One of the reasons that it is difficult for people to stand up for themselves is they fear the consequences of living an esteemed life. What I mean by this, is that when you start being true to yourself, and you begin challenging the way things are in relationships, people often react in a negative way. This doesn't always mean they are bad people, or they shouldn't be in your life. It often means that they are scared of the changes you are making and worry about how it will affect them. So what happens is that both partners end up scared and fearful.
When this happens, it is important to be clear with those you love. Let them know that this is about being you and that you need to make these changes. It is equally important to let them know that you want them to be right there with you. When this works well, people get the opportunity to grow together and it benefits everyone concerned.
When this doesn't work well, and people decide that they are not going to accept change, than you can be left with the pain of loss, as well as the pain of growing. It often feels like becoming who you are means walking through fire. (Martha Beck calls this "The Ring of Fire" in her book Steering by Starlight). At this point many people decide they can't do it, and go back to their old way of life. They change their story to read something like this, "I tried to get what I wanted, but it didn't work, so I am stuck living this way." They can go telling that story for a very long time. Others begin to feel the pain, and instead of moving backwards, they stay stuck by finding ways to avoid, deny, or anesthetize the pain. They use behaviors such as overwork, smoking, drinking too much, and overeating. All of this is done so as not to feel the pain.
Neither of these ways of dealing with pain works well! In fact, both of these options can last far longer and be much more agonizing than actually feeling the pain. What does work well, is stepping into the fire. You may be thinking, "There she goes with those crazy ideas again. No way am I going to walk into pain!" Let me explain this course of action to you. When you decide to walk forward even if you are terrified, what happens is that you find something you may have lacked before. That thing is courage. You stand up straighter, you square your shoulders and you say, "Let me have it."
Then what occurs is pretty amazing. When you decide to accept and deal with the pain of loss in your life, and the pain of growing, and willingly walk forward in your life, your ability to gracefully feel, embrace and resolve pain is unbelievable. When you do this, the pain is processed, felt, released, and you move through it much quicker than if you try not to feel it, or to avoid it at all costs.
So here is my suggestion. Is there any pain, grief, or loss, that you are not dealing with at this moment? I want you to spend fifteen minutes a day over the next week, taking that pain or loss out and examining it. Look at it, describe it, feel it, embrace it, and release it in any way that feels right to you. This might mean crying, yelling, going to the beach and throwing rocks till your arms hurt, writing about it, using what works for you. Then I want you to let it go, until the next day. Let it go, and get up and keep moving towards your life. And then do it again the day after that.
I know you can do this.