Wow, great post MollyJ. Amazing what we learn about ourselves in retrospect, huh? I can look back now and see unhealthy patterns in my relationships....but back then I couldn't tell the forest from the trees 'cuz I had my face smashed up against the bark.
The great thing about being in your 40's (yes I'm there and proud of it) is that you finally have some retrospect and yet have an opportunity to change things. (Actually you can change at any age.) I also find it liberating to not have to be right all the time. Funny enough, at 20 something, I always needed to be right. Now I don't. And someday, I'll wear purple if I feel like it.
The most important change however is in your priority setting. I still love to have fun and own things but now am painfully aware that kids grow up too fast (my first two are 21 and 22). I am treasuring the time I have with my younger three (15, 12 and 11). Soon they will be gone too. Helps too, when they're especially annoying (ha ha). "This too soon will pass."
Back to the point (and I do have one). My biggest challenge is setting boundaries with people in my life...."they might not like me".....but I always feel better about myself when I do it. And those people will respect you for setting those limits. And your kids are watching too. If they see other people walking on you, they'll follow suit and do it to you too. I know this....that was my wake up call....about 5 years ago. A lot has changed now (see previous postings) and change was hard. My oldest really fought it. But funny enough, she has told me since that although she found it unnerving at first (change is always hard), she now respects me as a person. She says she used to be embarrassed of how her step-father treated me and how I allowed it.
There is a famous saying. "a mother bird removes the down and feathers from the nest a bit at a time so soon, it becomes so uncomfortable, that the youngsters will leave the nest and fly". So if you're sitting on sticks, maybe it's time for change.