Over the holiday weekend, my wife and I had a very long, very interesting conversation about relationships. Not the dating, marriage kind, but the people who you spend so much energy trying to impress. It seems like everyone has someone in their life who makes them feel inadequate, someone who’s respect you want the most, but who is either unwilling, or incapable of giving it. The person who you so want to love you that you’ll go out of your way, turn your own life upside down, give up your own plans and dreams, just to try and make them happy. But it never really does.

People who demand that you do that are no better than abusers. They may not physically beat you, but they steal your self-esteem, they steal your time and attention away from things that are more constructive. In some cases, they steal your life. They make you believe that pleasing them, and gaining their respect is worth more than living your own life. It isn’t. They manipulate you and control you in the same way that your abuser did when you were a child, but you’re not a child. They are.

Don’t let anyone else control you. You only live once, make it worthwhile for you and the people who love you and accept you. Not for the people who demand you to be something you’re not.

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