Learning the Importance of Honoring Myself: The Monday after Thanksgiving in 1999, I pointed my sun-stained burgundy Honda Accord westward towards Los Angeles. I was leaving the city of Chicago for good. I had intentionally looked for work in L.A. to reunite with close friends who had moved there and to create a year-round active life in the local mountains. My boyfriend was staying behind to wrap up loose ends for now. 

I was excited and nervous traveling across the country in my old car. The decision to leave my boyfriend in Chicago didn’t weigh heavily, as he planned to visit me and celebrate new year’s. It was Y2K that year which was so top-of-mind during that time but now it seems so long ago. Our relationship history included a prior cross-country move for my education and I felt optimistic about our future and my new job. Little did I know, this move would become a pivotal point in understanding the importance of honoring myself, my needs and my boundaries.

His First Visit Was a Disaster

During his visit in December, we had a great trip with our friends to the desert out in Joshua Tree. We all danced and drank champagne outdoors as the sun set for the final time in the 20th Century. It was joyful and I was so grateful to be living in California. 

But shortly after our celebration, a thoughtless comment from my boyfriend sparked a conflict that revealed deeper issues. I realized that I had let him fall into a pattern of retreating when confronted with my pain. I let him know how deeply his comment hurt yet he withdrew without apologizing and left me grappling with hurt feelings. His inability to take responsibility made me question the relationship’s sustainability. I contemplated canceling a planned overnight romantic hotel stay, torn between hurt and the desire for intimacy.

Learning The Importance of Honoring Myself

During this struggle, I recognized that I had come to the end of the road in accepting his inability to apologize and talk through conflicts. I hadn’t really set boundaries with him previously, and I was paying the price. My confidence was strong and I knew that I deserved better. I had failed in the past but I needed to show him how I wanted to be treated. Conflicts weren’t a regular thing for us but the same patterns were showing up and I wasn’t up for it anymore. He needed to learn how to resolve conflict better and to apologize when he was at fault. In the past, I had told myself that the make-up part was worth the pain. But now I was looking at it differently.

More Big Lessons Ahead

The next day I was driving him to the airport. We were driving down Lincoln Boulevard and I was working out how to break it off as we were going to say good-bye. As I was driving, he apologized. I pulled the car over and burst into tears. I wanted to hit him and hug him all at the same time. The conflicting emotions fizzled into a mushy make-up session before his flight. Later that night I was grappling with the feeling of being taken to the edge and then being pulled back. I didn’t like it but I was willing to see how things went. 

As he eventually moved to L.A., the following months proved challenging. Lingering sadness, rooted in the unresolved conflict, overshadowed our relationship. I yearned for the affection and verbal affirmation I needed, while he insisted his actions should speak louder than words. I felt my need to stand in my own needs getting stronger. Within 6 months, I made the choice to walk away because he would not honor my needs. It was a difficult choice because we were so entwined in life with our friends but it was important for me to stand up for myself.

My journey from Chicago to Los Angeles became more than a physical relocation; it was a voyage into deeper self-worth and the recognition of the significance of boundaries. Through moments of conflict, I learned that emotional intimacy and effective communication are essential for me to continue in relationships. No longer was I willing to put my needs aside.

If you’re a women 40 or over and you struggle with honoring your own needs, please join me in my FREE 5-day challenge by registering here: 

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