I am a MARSHMALLOW when it comes to people.  I have this awkward inability to say, “no.”  This is a learned behavior from my parents and in many ways is good – we  love to help people and people know it.    When it comes to service, this is a handy thing.

When it comes to relationships?  Oh boy.

I’m learning how to say no.  It’s been part of my therapy for a while now: sometimes–whether I like it or not–I need to be the priority.  I wasn’t the priority with my ex-fiance, my college ex, or my on-and-off ex.  I’m lucky the ex-fiance broke up with me and I’m intensely lucky that my college ex couldn’t handle long distance.  But the on-and-off ex?  He was a whole different story.  I couldn’t say no to him!

About a year ago, he made it patently clear that I was always going to be second best.  He asked me to be–in nowhere near so few words–to be the other woman.  It wasn’t that we’d be having a physical affair, but an emotional affair is still an affair.  And he was asking that of me.  I realized, probably for the first time, that I wouldn’t be anything more than the fall back.  The second choice.  The non-priority.

And I got angry.

It was liberating.  It was the impetus behind my first ever NO concerning him.  It was that anger that got me through those first awful months when I realized that the time I thought we were finally going to make things work between us was never going to come.

But anger fades.  And guess what happened to the “NO!” then?  It got weak, it didn’t really come into play.  I still drew the line in the sand, but if he was willing to cross over to my side, to woo me, I would have been willing to go along with it.

This went on for about a year.  And then, out of the blue, I got angry for real this time.  It wasn’t anything he did or didn’t do.  I mean, his brother got married and I told him to pass on my congratulations (I’ve known their whole family for some time).  He did.  And that was it.

This time, I was angry for ALL of it.  Not just the inappropriate requests.  Not just for being made to feel second best.  Not just for being strung along for a decade.  But for the little things, too.  The promises he made and broke.  The way he made me feel like I wasn’t worth it and never would be.  The time he wasted.  And for the things that he did RIGHT.  Not because I’m capricious, but because HE is.  And that capriciousness was what made me fall in love OVER and OVER and OVER again as well as being what broke me OVER and OVER and OVER again.  Even the good times become bitter and tainted when in that context.

And that anger?  It’ll fade, too.  I’ll forgive him eventually.  BUT, this true anger is different because it comes with an epiphany: I deserve better.  A right and proper anger doesn’t just hurt, it should also heal.  And that’s why – no matter what happens in the future – I won’t falter.  While the anger will fade, my conviction won’t.

I am worth SO MUCH MORE.