The following is from "Call Me Crazy" by Anne Heche:
"I would purposefully forget my needs, my wants, my desires, and focus on theirs because I thought that's what love was I thought I would get love in return. But not being yourself only gets you away from love. Not being yourself never gets you the love you deserve, because you deserve to be loved for you, who you are, what you want and desire. Any form of love you receive when who you really are is not in the picture is not going to feel like love. In fact, it will feel like the opposite of love. It's going to feel like abuse. In fact, you are abusing yourself. You are giving yourself less than what you deserve, and that is abusive to yourself. You are responsible once you become an adult. It is your responsibility to recognize where you are in a relationship, and if it doesn’t feel good, you are right. If it feels weird, it is weird. But the other person in the relationship is not responsible. You are. I didn't know that then, I know that now. I would accept less and less, contort more and more for the next eight years of my life, until I figured out this pattern and started being me in the relationship."
This is another one of those times when I feel I truly understand what the writer is talking about because I have traveled along the same path. Now I do not think this passage means you get to be a real jerk in a relationship and you can chalk it up to you being you and your partner has to learn to live with it. No, but when you can truly understand, love and appreciate who you are, it is only then that you can begin to show love to another person.
I am more comfortable with me these days, I know there are parts of who I am that others can find annoying and I am open to sharing that upfront and asking them to let me know it I am being a little too much me. I do not change to fit what they want, but I am able to turn me down a bit, if (and that is a big if) the other person has something that I find worthy of being in a relationship with.
But I am first and foremost aware that any tweaking I do to make myself more likeable to the other person is always subject to review and if I am bending too far, I will reevaluate the relationship and see if there is still a healthy balance of give and take.
While prison is certainly not the best place to expose your feelings to others, the few people I have been willing to be open with have actually been able to joke with me, saying okay Pete, you are going over the top here, tone it down a bit and I am able to adjust, and everyone is more comfortable.