By Hayley Miller, MS, RD, LDN
Women go through a lot in their lives. I work as a therapist working with mostly men. I hear everyday about how annoying women are and how “emotional” they are. I’m not going to lie and say that my clients’ words don’t bother me but it’s not really my role as a therapist to fight for the rights of women during a therapy group. Don’t get me wrong – I do say a lot about how men don’t understand the way women deal with emotions and that men have the same emotions. I wish I could say more to them for them to understand women but my role is more to have them focus on themselves instead of the people that annoy them in their lives. Even more astonishing is the things women say to other women and what they allow themselves to put up with. . As a woman in America, it is stressed to find a partner. Other women look down upon a woman that’s single. This fosters a dependence on relationships and not the woman’s life goals. When women are put in a desperate position where they are supposed to be taken care of by a man, they don’t leave the man even if the relationship isn’t healthy. It’s quite common for the women I see as a therapist to report an abusive boyfriend and unhealthy relationships. Also, when some women tell others about what abuse they have suffered people don’t believe them. This makes the woman feel as though she isn’t worth anything and isn’t meant to be treated fairly. She passes these ideas onto her daughters and more and more women lower their own self-esteem. Having someone in your life is never more important than your own life. . Women are also pressured to look good all the time even though that is impossible. Women feel as though they need to be perfect for their men to stay with them. They are also under the impression that men will cheat so it’s okay for him to get his needs met. These ideas might not fit your ideas but these are the things I see in women I work with. I do not accept the notion that women have to be objects for a man to stay. Men are not as harsh and do not have as many expectations as women put on themselves. And if a man or woman makes you feel as though you aren’t worth respect then that is a problem with them, not you. Please understand that women and men deal with emotions differently and accept that about you. If someone doesn’t treat you with respect and constantly puts you down then they’re not meant to be in a relationship with you. Too many women sacrifice their lives to please their men. . A man that puts his hands on you because he feels as though you bother him too much isn’t worth your time. If he can’t use his words to work things out with you and must resort to scare tactics he can’t be saved. It is not your job as the woman to try to understand him and “fix” him. It won’t work. Why not try working on yourself to understand why you would allow someone to take away your self-esteem and possibly your life just so you can say, “I have a boyfriend”. This does happen in homosexual relationships also. I am only writing about heterosexual relationships because those are the ones I hear the most about. . If I have learned nothing from my clients it is that boundaries and speaking your mind are important for self-esteem. I pick my battles with the male clients involving woman bashing. But at the same time I do not allow them to put me or any other people in my group down. My clients know that when I go over the rules in my groups that “no” means no, and I will not yield. I don’t care what your story is. This is not a power trip. This is telling others that my boundaries need to be respected or the conversation is over. It is so empowering to know exactly what I want and stick to my boundaries. That makes me feel in control of my life instead of pleasing others and sacrificing myself in the process. I am able to fight for myself instead of allowing others to put me down. No one can make you feel badly without your consent so stop giving it. You’ll be surprised at how happy you will become.Hayley Miller is a therapist at a drug and alcohol center. She has a Master’s in Clinical and Counseling Psychology and is a Registered Dietitian. She has worked with clients with eating disorders and ran an eating disorders group.