You Deserve It Too
I felt really bad after the surgery took a turn for the worst, and no, not bad in the “oh my gosh, I could have died” kind of way that I should have felt bad in, I felt bad in an inconvenient kind of way. I felt like an inconvenience. I knew that I had scared the person in the waiting room. I knew that my recovery was going to be longer now. I knew that I would need some help from my friends. I knew that my kids would have to be a little easier on mommy for longer than I was expecting. I knew that I was going to be in an even bigger financial mess because of added time off work. All of this made me feel so, inconvenient.
I went home, hung around in my trapped head, and beat myself up about it. I had already felt bad about even going into this surgery. I mean don’t get me wrong, I was excited to be offered the amazing opportunity to have the “original me” back, but I felt….undeserving.
After the surgery, I sat around for a few days mulling over what life lesson’s I could pull from this (does that make me weird? I swear I am seriously like the weirdest person I know). I really struggled with my feelings of being a burden. Friends offered to come over and take care of me and I politely rejected them. I had made this choice, it wasn’t the responsibility of anyone else to take care of me in the mess that I had created. They all reminded me that I would have needed help even if nothing had gone wrong, and yet, I wouldn’t let them help me. I didn’t want to be a burden on them. I reminded them one by one that they had kids, jobs, husbands, girlfriends, etc, and that I needn’t be on their priority list.
That one struck a bell with me right there. I needn’t be on their priority list. Do you know how many times I have helped them out when they needed it, even when I was in no position to be helping anyone out? I watched the nutcase neighbor’s daughter for weeks on end right after my ex left, when the two of them had a scheduling conflict. I refused to let them pay me because I knew they needed the money, even though I needed the money more and I absolutely had no time to watch their daughter. When my friend broke her leg, I regularly pushed her around the neighborhood in a wheelchair to get her out of the house for a while. When another had a surgery, I went over and cleaned her house from top to bottom. Now please don’t take this as me bragging, I’m telling you this to prove a point. Friends do things for friends who need help. They rearrange their priorities to make room for new ones. So why wouldn’t I let anyone help me?
Because to allow someone to make you a priority, you first have to believe that you are a priority.
I’ve come a long way from realizing the things that I don’t deserve, but I’m not sure I’ve made a whole lot of progress understanding what I do deserve. There is a subtle, yet highly distinctive difference there.
I don’t deserve to be raped. I don’t deserve to be abused. But what do I deserve? Sure, I deserve to be treated with respect, to find someone who loves me, to be happy, yadda yadda, but REALLY, what does that look like?
I go out of my way to make the lives of the people around me easier. “Sure, I can absolutely accommodate your schedule. Sure, I can absolutely do this for you. Sure, I can absolutely take care of that.” I really don’t think I have ever said “no” when someone has asked me to do something for them, and yet, I rarely remember ever saying “yes” when help has been offered to me. Really, how long can someone survive like that? Because I have to tell you, I’ve personally been getting a little worn down.
So yay, trapped in my head epihany, (See, I knew there was a life lesson in there somewhere!!) I think I’m on to something here. Looking back at my life, I can absolutely see where things went askew. For as long as I can remember, the phrase my parents used to love to throw at me was “you don’t deserve that.” One year for my 11th birthday, they told me I was going to be having a sleep over party, and I was THRILLED. I invited all my friends, made plans, and was near jittery with excitement. Two days before, my dad dropped the harsh reality in one line. “You aren’t having a party. You don’t deserve a birthday party.” Even now the shame and hurt of that one burns bright. Remember the story I told in my XOJane article about being left at the hotel while my family went to Universal Studio’s? When they came back that night, they told me that I didn’t deserve to go with them. That line was also thrown around in terms of basic necessities. “You don’t deserve dinner tonight. You don’t deserve to eat with the family. You don’t deserve anything.” That theme continued throughout my marriage. I got my wedding dress at a thrift shop after being told I didn’t deserve anything else. My first birthday as a married woman, my husband told me I didn’t deserve a gift, and that was the same thing I was told on every Christmas, birthday, and mother’s day after that; except for the year that my ex bought “me” a video game system, complete with racecar and gun games, and car remote control handle. Thanks…..
To this day I still can’t accept gifts from people, it makes me feel too guilty, as if I’ve received something I don’t deserve. Every boyfriend I have ever had has understood the unexplained rule; “Don’t buy me anything.” The guilt runs so deep, that it actually hurts, and it spreads to other area’s of my life as well. Its why I have such a hard time telling anyone that I need help. I don’t feel like I deserve to be anyone’s priority.
How did I not see this before? I consider myself to be a fairly introspective person, and I also consider myself to have an average level of self esteem. Not to be blunt, but I think I’m a good person. I think I’m funny. I think I’m pretty. I think I’ve been blessed with a couple of great kids, so where on earth did this come from!? I think in order to allow yourself to be the priority of someone else, you first have to be able to make yourself a priority to yourself.
I was never given that opportunity. From the time I was born, it wasn’t about me. It was about my mother, my father, or my husband. My survival depended on making someone else a priority. What they wanted, what they needed, what they expected of me, was more important than what I wanted or needed, because to keep them apeased, was to keep myself alive. The most basic life lesson I learned growing up, was that I don’t matter. Basic survival meant forgoing myself.
So all this time, as I’ve been fighting to be treated with respect, I’ve only been fighting half the battle.
I look back at my life and in the most basic of American women ways, its slightly laughable. I’ve never had a manicure, I’ve never had a massage, I’ve never just gone and gotten my hair done. I’ve never owned an expensive piece of clothing, or even just gone on a shopping spree. I’ve never been to a spa or a girl’s weekend away and I don’t treat myself to a starbucks, and that’s ok. But when I look at luxuries verses needs, its a little bit scarier. I often turn down help that I need, because I don’t feel like I deserve it. I don’t eat for days on end, because I’m afraid that there won’t be enough for my kids. I went an entire winter without a coat, because I didn’t feel I deserved to spend the money to buy one.
I need to make myself a priority. Its that whole “in the event of a sudden loss in cabin pressure, put your mask on yourself before putting a mask on your child.” I need to be a priority before I can be what my children need from me. Now don’t go all crazy, anyone who knows me knows that my children have been, and will continue, to come first, but still. I need to be a priority in my own life if I’m going to be around for the long haul. I can’t afford to run myself into the ground, or I won’t be any good to them.
I never realized that the crisis is over. I’m safe. Its ok for me to want. Its ok for me to feel. Its ok, for me to be important. It’s ok for me to deserve to want my life back. I do deserve.
This surgery was the first time that I have ever, in my life, said yes to myself. Allowed myself to take time off work that I didn’t have, to impede upon my friends for childcare, and to accept the doctor’s gracious offer. This was the first time that I have ever put myself first, that’s how badly I wanted this and yea, things didn’t go as planned, but I’m glad that for once, I made myself a priority.
So you know what, bruised and broken me, writer of this post? You deserved this! What you chose to do, it was ok. It didn’t go as planned, but it will work out fine. You deserve to get your life back. You deserve, to be a priority. You deserve, to want back what was taken from you, and you deserve to get it.
To all my readers that are healing with me, you deserve too. We all do.
Photo Credit Bells: http://www.flickr.com/photos/clarism_4/
Photo Credit Pondering Guy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/striatic/
Photo Credit Zippers: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pulguita/