In my lifetime, I have been abandoned four times.
The first, by my stepfather after he and my mother divorced.
The second, in my early twenties by a best friend.
The third in my thirties by another close friend.
And recently by another lifelong friend.
Each time I racked my brain for answers. What had I done? How was I responsible?
If you know me at all, you know that I love learning. I am an open book and daily, I shine the light on myself and all of my imperfections.
As a sought-after keynote speaker, my mother frequently listened to motivational leaders on our family road trips, long before TVs or phones in a car. So, I listened to them too.
And what was drilled into me then has never left me: Only I am responsible for my actions. In each and every decision, I have a choice on how I will respond. If I am wrong, when I make a mistake, it is up to me to figure out what happened and how I can learn from it so that I can grow into the best version of myself. Growth cannot happen without mistakes and mistakes aren’t mistakes unless I didn’t learn from them. They are lessons!
I remember so clearly the pain I felt the first three times. I felt misunderstood and desperately wanted to defend myself.
After this last time, I asked my husband and other friends, “Please, tell me. What is wrong with me? If this has happened this many times in twenty years, surely this is on me. What do I need to do to fix myself? To be a better daughter, friend or version of myself?”
And then, without them saying, I knew.
I knew exactly what was wrong with me.
I realized how wrong I had been to take responsibility for something and someone I was not. responsible. for.
That these people are human, too. That they make mistakes and it is their responsibility to learn from their own, not mine to try and fix the damage of the abandonment by proving myself worthy.
My mistake is my lack of self-confidence in knowing that I am already worthy. I am loved by God, my husband, my children and the rest of my family and friends.
And for those who choose to inexplicably check out of our relationship, well, they can keep on walking.
Because I am worthy.
And it’s their. damn. loss.