Never Too Old. Or: Annie has a Zero Tolerance Policy.

First of all, let me acknowledge the fact that it’s been more than a month since I posted.  What’s that about?  Well, it’s simply been about time – the lack of it.  I’ve got loads of things to say and every day I feel like I’m seeing more and more opportunities to reflect on Owning Your You – but the act of putting these things in writing has seemed impossible.  I simply haven’t had enough time to sit still and put my thoughts in order.  So, I apologize.  I’ve been thinking of you, I promise!

Now, let me get into Ellen’s story.  This one struck me as really powerful.

I met up with a group of friends and former colleagues recently.  Among that group was a close friend, Laura, who went through a painful breakup a while back, and who I have helped work through a lot of the junk that comes with a particularly painful breakup.  Also among the group was a woman, Ellen, who I only knew slightly prior to leaving my former place of employment, and who I always thought was sweet and funny, and I was happy to get to spend time with her on this particular evening.

And so it begins.  We are at dinner and Ellen’s phone happens to be on the table.  And it rings.  Immediately, there is a chorus of “Don’t answer it, Ellen!” “It’s Jimmy the Jerk. Ignore! Ignore!” and other such comments.  Clearly I was missing something.  Once the near-riot dies down, obviously I ask what the hell that was about!  To make a long story short (so that I can get to the moral of this fine story):

Ellen is seriously just sweet and generous and funny and everything that is good in the world.  And she is engaged to Jimmy the Jerk.  She had been married but ended that after 25 years, which obviously took strength and a strong sense of self.  Then she met the love of her life and had a few years with him, and then he died.  Then she met Jimmy the Jerk, who of course started out sweet and wonderful and she thought he was sent to her by god to fill in the emptiness in her life.  They got engaged.  He lives with her.  Rent free.  She bought a new car and gave him her old one for free.  And…he’s a total jackass now.  She got attacked/mugged outside of her house a few years ago and so has been very gun-shy when she is walking after dark and knows someone is behind her (um…UNDERSTANDABLY!).  One evening she was walking to her door after this had happened and she heard someone running behind her so she obviously freaked a bit and was at her door knocking and pounding (I’m guessing she was too freaked out to be fumbling with her keys or was doing the knocking while trying to work the keys, not sure which) and then Jimmy the Jerk opens the door and is like, “What’s your problem?”  She says, “There was someone behind me [turns out it was a pizza delivery guy running to deliver a pizza next door or something] and I freaked out.  I was attacked recently.  I could use a little support.”  And what does Jimmy the Jerk do??  Gives her the finger and says, “There’s your support.”

Are you KIDDING me?  And yet she’s still with him. she is afraid to “start over” again at her age (Ellen is 63.)  I do not care how old you are or how old you THINK you are (age issues – another topic for another post…this is something I continue to struggle with, no matter how hard I try to overcome!)  It does not matter how old you are or how many “chances” you think you have left.  You deserve better, Ellen!! You deserve to be with someone who values you and all of the amazing qualities that you embody.

Obviously, I started in on Ellen.  Not in a mean way, but in an “Ellen! You are amazing! You deserve better!” kind of way.  I don’t care if you’re 23, 33, 63, or 93!  None of us deserve to be with someone who flips us “the bird” and tells us that’s our support.  F* that!  This is when Laura chimes in and says to Ellen, “Annie has a zero tolerance policy…” and launches in to how I helped, guided, and supported her through her aforementioned breakup, including when she was making the initial decision to leave the guy.  I also shared some of my own story about stepping up, stepping out of my comfort zone, and making a life decision for MYSELF (another story, another post…I promise!)  I do not tolerate or condone one-sided relationships.  I cannot justify any form of abuse or neglect.  Zero tolerance.  We are amazing.  We deserve amazing partners.

I am never trying to encourage someone to do something they aren’t ready for, but I am always trying to push people just beyond their comfort zone.  Does Ellen deserve better than Jimmy the Jerk?  YES!  Without a doubt.  Would I push her to make a move she’s not ready for, or that would otherwise negatively affect her life?  No.  But the only barrier between Ellen and freedom from an abusive relationship are her own insecurities.  So, will I push her to get out of her comfort zone and see her true value?  Damn right I will!

Ellen needs to Own Her Ellen.  Who SHE is, at her core.  She is someone who gives love unconditionally and she deserves to receive the same.  We are all worthy of a partner who both respects our true selves and returns the values and kindnesses that we bestow on those we love…regardless of our age.

It’s scary.  It’s terrifying, in fact.  When you are in a relationship or situation that you are familiar with, that you are comfortable (if not happy) with, it is scary to think about leaving that relationship.  But I promise you…it is better on the other side.

Ellen is still with Jimmy the Jerk.  This story is not over.  But I have hope.  And I have faith in Ellen.  She just needs to get to the place where she can see – where she can BELIEVE – that she is worthy of more.

Ellen is working hard to Own Her Ellen.  I am working to Own My Annie.  Are you really working to Own Your You?  It’s more than just acknowledging that you should, or that you will…it’s about the steps you are taking to actually do it.

Talk to me, friends.  I want to hear the ways in which you are Owning Your You!