It turns out that running away from your problems doesn’t change who you are as a person. Not even half way around the world.
I have always been a person who doesn’t demand respect from others. I’ve let people I call friend walk all over me through my entire life history because I’ve always feared losing the few people who had that label.
In high school and part of college it was the girl I met the first day of high school. She would talk to me about how my other friends had betrayed or hurt her in some way, and I would defend her until she was my only friend. And then she tore me down.
In college we had a falling out and I gained new friends. I let them walk over me, but it was mostly benevolent – ignoring my preferences about silly things like entertainment. And then I fell in love, and, oh… that meant something. It wasn’t hard for him to make me his whole world. I spend my whole life being groomed to defend the people I care about from every problem and to focus my energy on one person at a time.
So when he informed me that we were going to open our relationship to other people it broke my heart. I tried to say something, but years of learning to keep my mouth shut and let the people I care about have their own way made it almost impossible for me to say no. When he fell in love with someone else and decided that he didn’t want to continue our relationship… it broke me. And I swore that I would never let anyone do that again. That I wouldn’t date anyone my friends didn’t like, not that I had many friends left. That I would learn to stand up for myself.
And then I fled to China, determined to redefine myself.
Except the person that I am has remained the same. As has my past.
It’s still part of who I am to defend the people I care about and to give more of myself than I should. It’s still burned into my soul that saying no, or refusing anything to those I care about is the fastest way to lose someone I care about, and while I know that isn’t the healthiest, I think it is deeply part of who I am. Changing that would be to be someone that I’m not.
I can’t run away from who I am. I just have to find a way to keep my soul safe from people who are all too happy to learn that I can’t say no and collect me as someone who will always bow to what they want.