What is this concept about?
This nugget is golden and I want to carefully unpack it. We're conditioned to feel we deserve something. It starts as soon as we're old enough to choose our behavior. We're told we need to earn play time, or a desired toy or activity. We're told in love we deserve better treatment. We deserve the love we've been offering for ourselves. We deserve to be treated the way we've treated someone else, even if that means we're acting like deplorable human beings and it's what we deserve because of it. I'm arguing that we're not victims to the life we get to live.
What does it mean to deserve something?
Dictionary.com will tell you that the word deserve originates in Middle English. Actually, I just told you, but feel free to fact check me. I'm not talking Tolkien's middle, but more Chaucer. It's English that doesn't sound like English because that's how old it is. It's English that still blends other languages into it. It's a really old concept that says what you get in life is determined by what you have done to earn it. You have to find a way to qualify or have a claim because of something you have done. This means that you are given what you earned, and it takes the accountability of your choice away from you. Deserving something is still part of who I am but I'm working on that. Right now I love Meghan Trainor's new album and one of my favorite songs is all about announcing, "I deserve better."
People will always try to tell you who they think you are. You don't have to believe what they say. I recommend rejecting what doesn't come from your own intuition, including this suggestion.
When I tell you that I want to love unconditionally, and I spell it out here and detail it in my posts about mothering, it's because love is a gift and shouldn't cost the person we give it to. I don't barter my love for affection or attention. When I give my love it's free. I give it no matter what I'm getting in return because I see value and have a desire to build and call out what I see until it is greater than it was.
Internal dialogues can be insidious. Sometimes guilt can weigh on us and make a bad day look like something we've earned. That perception takes away our choice and when choice is stripped, we lose control of our reactions. It becomes cyclical and repeats. We teach our reactions and adaptability to our children and they thrive or falter because of what we show them.
Deserving our lot in life.
When my kids were first diagnosed with autism I started to really question what we deserved. Did I deserve what they have to deal with (I'm not always proud of my thoughts, and this was one of those moments)? Did they deserve what they had to go through? People with platitudes would suggest that God only gives special kids to special parents. I call bull on that one. All special needs parents are just like other parents. Sometimes we do really well with adapting. Other times we don't. It's a choice and my choice is one I can stand by on most days. The choice is to be better to my kids than I want to be. It's not about deserving something. It's about deciding it doesn't matter why this is in our family. It's about deciding how I can help my kids navigate our world. I didn't get lost in what I expected and my perspective shifted. It was a good shift.
Reactions and Interpretation
We're all in charge of our reactions and interpretation, but so often people are ruled by stress over what they wanted to happen and disappointment controls our ability to move forward. Stress isn't even quantifiable. It's real, but it's manufactured by us to torture us into stagnation. People are always feeling major and minor effects of the stress they feel, but stress is entirely a choice you don't have to choose if you shift your interpretation and redirect your reaction.
When we live in the past, time drags on and we can't see what is right now or ahead of us. When we live in the future, there isn't enough time. There is too much to get done and again, we lose the gift that is the present.
When my husband of 15 years quit on me, I didn't react well. It was bad. It was ugly. I was a living and breathing open wound, bleeding everywhere. It was hard to live through and hard for others to watch. A year and some months later I haven't jumped into a relationship but I have enjoyed a couple of crushes that reminded me how awesome infatuation could be. They showed me what a really great guy might look like. They reminded me of the fun of seeing only the good in a person, ignoring the bad and glossing over the rest. My latest crush deciding to take himself out of our equation could have been devastating. It wasn't. It was fun. It was exciting. I needed to see what he showed me and hopefully he needed to experience what I offered. There's still friendship. I'm getting in touch with my geeky side that is entirely awkward and clumsy when it comes to him lately, but I'm enjoying that for what I've chosen to make it.
I didn't deserve to get dumped. And I was, by everyone's standards. Twice.
I get to be an autism mom. I got to be a stay at home mom. Now I get to work at a job I love doing.
I got to be married for 15 contented years where I loved and was loved for the majority of it. Now I get to fall in love again, and as many times as I'm comfortable with. I got to sleep next to someone and care about his needs, and now I get to put my needs first, and look at all of the pretty men I see, without worrying about my actions hurting someone else. (I have a special appreciation for watching men run. It's beauty. It's inspiration. It's a public service and I'm so happy when I see a man in full stride. It's my bliss at times and I have no shame about it. It's right up there with Crossfit and entirely yummy.) I got to love deeply.
I get to restructure my priorities. I get to really connect to what brings my life meaning and it's a beautiful life I get to lead. I get to do epic shit on a daily basis.
I get to be reminded that I really am beautiful by the many men that have tried to entertain me, and I get to pass on them because I get to choose who I want to spend my free time with. And lately it's me, and people that don't want sex from me.
There's a cost to the life we get to lead and it's not the price set by someone else's standards.