When I first heard the quote from Maya Angelou "When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.", I was very young, naïve and didn't grasp the wisdom from those words fully yet. As I got older and went through the growing pains during my adolescence, I learned to read the signs the "hard" way. The experiences were painful, but it only made me stronger and more aware of subtleties. As they say "the devil is in the details" right?
For those who know me, know that I'm a very giving and forgiving person, because of how my parents raised me and my Christian background. I forgive easily and, believe me or not, I even forgot some awful things that happened to me during my childhood, but that doesn't give people the right and excuse to take advantage of those traits. But they did of course. And there I was, in my early twenties, making up excuses for the bad behaviors of some people around me.
There were signs; subtle and not so subtle; and the people who truly cared to point out the toxic behaviors, but good old hearted Tanja made up excuses for the people who took advantage. "No it's because of problems at home..." or "Look it from their perspective..." or "They didn't mean it like that..." It was all good and well until I started to be more critical and demanded the respect that I had deserved, that's when the "masks" fell off.
I'm not saying to not be forgiving or not to look things from other perspectives, because those are attributes to be appreciated. I'm only saying to be aware of how people treat you, read the subtle and not so subtle signs and take everything into account. Not just your experiences, but also of those around you.
That's what I did when I got older. There was an instance when someone disrespected me, because I'm female and not on the same level. My skills, knowledge and voice didn't matter from the beginning. I warned the people around us to be aware and vigilant, as this person could cause more problems and it turned out that I was right. I wasn't exaggerating the behaviors and the warning signs, because there seemed to be trend.
And that's when I made the decision to choose me and put myself and my own wellbeing and (mental) health first. Does this seem familiar to you? Experiencing or have experienced something similar? Would love to read about it.