It wasn’t until I met my husband until I realized how f*c^e# up I was. Because of my integrity, work ethic, and character… I always thought I was the pick of the litter and placed myself on quite a pedestal in that regard. I knew I had my flaws… which I deemed to be superficial i.e. physical. But on the ‘important’ stuff… I always gave myself a 10!
When we first started dating, I had a fancy new BMW 640 Gran Coupe that I was leasing… for whatever reason, literally once a week, the check engine light, or tire pressure light, or maintenance light would go on. It was so annoying because I would take it to the dealership who would reset the light, apologize, and send me on my way. After a while, I just ignored the lights whether it was a legitimate issue or not.
One evening, my husband aka ‘Papi Chulo’ was trying to make a point regarding my emotional instability and says, “Amber, you are like your BMW: The world goes ooohhhhh aaaahhhhh looking from the outside… but the truth is they don’t know that the check engine light is on”.
And let me tell you…. the first few years with my very direct husband, who pretty much tells it like it is with no filter…. did not mince any words regardless if it hurt my feelings or not. Luckily I survived that motivational speaking boot camp and would like to share some of my takeaways:
- Don’t lie to yourself.
- Don’t feel sorry for yourself.
- Don’t believe words – allow actions to prove true authenticity.
- If you do a favor for someone, demand that favor is returned at some point. Do not allow a relationship of any kind to become lopsided, as entitlement and resentment will follow.
Well…. all of these ‘tips’, though familiar to many, are often not practiced. For me, I didn’t have the self esteem or courage to do so. And… sometimes IT IS hard to enforce and demand respect and common courtesy from others…. Difficult conversations have to be had and often times relationships perish that are not in alignment with mutual respect and admiration – and frankly that’s scary for someone who has abandonment or co-dependence issues.
And let me tell you… now that I’ve figured out (finally) how much time, opportunity, and energy I lost: When a friend or colleague approaches me and shares anything that I deem to be ‘weak’ or ‘self pity’, I coach and counsel them them just the way my husband did me! It’s intense, they’re often offended, there have been some tears and probably anger (at me)…. But knowing what I know now, I would be doing a disservice to another by NOT being truthful.
A few weeks ago, my friend of 18 years called me mid-day in a panic – All hell was literally breaking loose. She has always been my rock – the stronger of us two – so I wasn’t prepared to hear panic and emotion in her voice. I immediately kicked into advocacy mode as said: Ok, don’t panic, this situation is NOT ideal but I see a way it can be spun into a positive! The window of opportunity is very narrow, so time is of the essence, but if you take advantage of this horrible circumstance, you will for sure be able to capitalize!”
We got off the phone and a few days later I went to spend some one on one time with her… 2 days in when we were waking up, she says, “Amber… I was so shocked at your response in my moment of desperation I didn’t even know what to say. You were all calm and collected talking about turning a negative into a positive and I’m over here like HELLO! Crisis 911! Who the F does that?” She made fun of me reenacting it for about 30 minutes while we laughed so hard we cried.
I’ve always been pretty strong and level headed when it comes to helping others… And for myself, I put on a huge front for the public and broke down in silence…. very few knew – BECAUSE… we are all being judged! And no one wants to associate or do business with someone who is unstable.
*WARNING* The tricky part for me is… now that I’ve discovered my voice, which can be unfiltered when I’m offended, is how do I stabilize my reactions? Swinging from one end of the pendulum to the other can be pretty scary and erratic. Sometimes I have an out of body experience when I am reacting out of character (in comparison to the old Amber)…. I often times realize it by the look on the other person’s face and I’m like ‘Oh shit! That was not professional or politically correct at all!’
And then I begin to audit myself and debate whether it was necessary or how could I have handled it differently? It’s a TON of course correction… and often times you just have to keep trying until you get the outcome you are looking for.
One of my biggest CURRENT weaknesses is the inability to politic. I’m HORRIBLE at it! It’s all smoke and mirrors floating on a bed of deception… And for someone like me who thinks in columns and has to reconcile to ZERO (truth) , I can’t wrap my head around abstract accounts that don’t add up.
I used to watch GI Jane over and over in the early 2000’s and loved the quote from Master Chief. I wanted so desperately to apply it to my life but couldn’t quite figure it out 🙁
2017 and a Papi Chulo later….. I finally have my wish!