“You know I have a place of my own, right?” I remember asking him one evening, fairly early into our relationship.
I noticed how he was happy to fit me into the open space in his life but was failing to consider whether he was fitting into, merging with, or considering mine. Failing even to remember that I had a home and a bed of my own at times.
He knew, he said.
And sometimes, he would act like it.
Yet two years later, we sat by the lake, a month or so before our relationship would finally come to a close, and I cried.
“I matter, too,” I said. “My life matters, too.”
It was a realization far bigger than him or us.
A reckoning inside of me, spreading clarity through every relationship, personal and professional. A stark and startling awareness that I was here and that my life, wants, and needs mattered, too, that there were so many spaces I hadn’t even remotely been a factor.
How could he, or anyone for that matter, have honored that my life, wants, and needs mattered if I was only just realizing this truth? If I was only just acknowledging the depth of its roots in all areas of my life?
He was following my lead the whole time, just like everyone else, because I wasn’t making myself matter. I wasn’t making my wants and needs and way of life important.
“I matter, too,” became a quiet mantra, often whispered to through tears until it grew into a mighty roar from the depths of my soul.
I matter, too.
My life matters, too.
My wants and needs matter, too.
It’s no longer a plea for someone to see and maybe sometimes honor, but a deep, visceral knowing with every cell of my being.
A belief. A way of life. An unwavering truth.
The foundation of who I am now and who I’m becoming.
The start of this summer came with an invitation, and I’m so proud of how quickly I said no. How quickly I saw that there was no room for me at all, and how quickly I knew that I absolutely could not — would not! — say yes to anyone or anything that left no space for me and the life I desire to live.
It’s not on the table for compromise.
Some details and aspects, sure.
But who I am and who I’m here to be? The work I feel called to do and the way I must live my life? My wants and needs?
Not on the table.
We fit and work together well, or we don’t. We’re aligned and on the same page, or we’re not. Our negotiables and non-negotiables are complimentary, or they aren’t. We can honor one another without self-compromise, or we can’t.
This goes for every relationship.
I know how skilled I am at honoring people for who they are.
Now I know that I deserve the same.
Because I’m here, and I matter, too.
And that starts with me.