LD Takes a Stand

Well, it finally happened. The Little Dog stood up for himself.

This whole experience has taught me that, in addition to a bleeding heart and a strong empathy for where the other person is coming from, you also have to have an even stronger ability to draw your own boundaries. You have to be able to stand up for yourself before you can stand up for anyone else.

LD is learning that he has every right to have reasonable expectations of those people closest to him. The first expectation is of mutual respect, which had become non-existent in the relationship at issue.

It seems I have spent the first part of his life teaching him to have empathy, compassion and respect for others. He has learned well, and is now one of the kindest young men I know.

Now, in his teen years, he is faced with the adult realization that others don't always have these qualities. I'm trying my best to help him navigate these new concepts and to learn appropriate responses. I definitely want him to understand that while righteous anger is a good and powerful thing, he must learn to express it appropriately.

You know, everybody doesn't think about these things. My parents certainly didn't. Like almost everyone else, I learned as I went and stuffed my emotions accordingly. It wasn't until I tried therapy in my 30's that I was confronted with the idea that, holy cow, all of my emotions were valid. As much as I had a right to be happy, safe, pleasant and warm, I also had the right to sometimes be angry, scared, pissy and cold.

So, while the person in his most recent equation holds a position in LD's life that deserves respect, it does not have to be a blind respect. Up until this weekend it was.

I told friends that it had become so bad that if this person spit on him LD would make the excuse that, "He just needed to spit real bad and I was in the way."

In the way. That is how he has been made to feel. But because he is old enough for me not to butt in and advocate for him I have had to hold myself back (and keep my mouth shut.)

Then, yesterday, he said, "I'm tired of this."

"Tired of what," I asked, knowing the person in question was expecting him to show up and be glad about it.

"I'm just tired of the way I am being treated." He went on to think out loud for the next hour. He would pop into where I was working and say, "Here's another thing that makes me mad..."

Finally, it was time to go and much to my surprise he said, "I'm not going. I just don't want to do it any more. Are you okay with that?"

I assured him that the decision was his and I had his back. I tried not to eavesdrop on the conversation he had in order to cancel the arrangement. I asked him how he felt when it was over.

"I feel GREAT," he said.

And we went out to dinner to celebrate.