As I continue to grow up I think I’ve really come to understand the importance of protecting my mental health, especially after Berit was born.
I don’t keep it secret that I struggled with postpartum anxiety and struggled with it alone for the most part. I had to learn how to speak up and speak out.
Luckily, I had a certain managing editor friend that lovingly told me I needed to speak to my doctor.
Since then, I’ve focused on not allowing toxic relationships ruin me.
But man is it hard.
Why is it so easy to tell a rude stranger right where they can go but when it’s our own friends or family member, someone we should be comfortable with, we agonize over what to say?
When is it okay to step away from a toxic family member? A sister, a cousin, even a parent?
Living in the south we are taught as very young children to mind our manners even at the expense of our hearts.
Mind you manners, cross your legs, dry up your tears, and be on your best behavior.
However, and please don’t hate me for saying this, sometimes it’s OK to not speak to people — even if they’re our elders.
It’s never OK, of course, to be hateful. That’s not what Jesus has taught us and what we should spread to others.
But I truly believe it’s OK to walk away from people that keep you from having that relationship you need with Jesus because your heart is constantly filled with anger.
I don’t want Berit to be conditioned to thinking that being in an emotionally abusive relationship is OK, if they are related to you.
Be respectful, be kind, but you absolutely do not have to be tolerant.
It’s so easy to teach her these things but so much harder to teach them to myself.
I recently experienced a situation in which I knew I needed to speak up. I was being taken advantage of, and while I don’t think this person meant to do so, it was still happening and still hurting.
I was honestly so afraid to address my concerns that I was willing to continue to allow myself to hurt just so I didn’t lose this person.
With some encouragement from that same pushy editor, I spoke my truth about what was bothering me.
Thankfully, it was an amazing conversation and we are now closer than ever.
I was able to address a situation and stand my ground. It’s amazing the impact saying, “this truly hurts my feelings” can do.
As children we’re taught to speak up and let someone know when they’re hurt our feelings but when do we unlearn this? When do we reach that level as adults when we’re supposed to let it roll like water off a duck’s back?
Sometimes I don’t want to be that duck!
What if I want to be the duck that bites you on the rear and chases you back to the car?
Unfortunately I’m also facing a situation with someone that I know won’t end well. They’ll forever be in my life but I’m learning I must limit interaction with them to preserve my own mental health and relationship with Christ.
I’m learning to let that be OK; to be a different kind of duck.
So, here’s to trying to not be the duck that lets it slide, but also not be the duck that attacks people.
Maybe I can be the duck that walks in the other direction, away from the toxic waters that can harm me.
Here’s to not letting others make you go “quackers.”
Courtney Warren is a contributing writer with The Bolivar Commercial. She may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.