September 12

As a writer, I think I’m pretty good with communicating my ideas. I’m usually careful with word choice and wonder how what I say may be taken wrong or out of context. I try to imagine how others may respond so I can get a point across without being insulting or putting someone on the defensive. Usually, I’m good at it. Usually. When it comes to communicating my needs/wants/desires, I still fail miserably. I know it’s partly that I was taught to put others’ needs ahead of my own. I remember very clearly my dad asking me on more than one occasion if I thought I was better than anyone else. The answer was always no because any other answer was unthinkable. I’m not better than anyone else. This carried into my relationships, especially the 8 year one where everything between us was a competition that he had to win. I couldn’t be better than him at anything. Doing so would get retaliation in the form of thrown objects, swearing, or public humiliation. Trying to explain myself would begin an argument that somehow ended with me at fault and him saying, am I wrong? I became very adept at letting him win, until I finally got out. I thought I’d never let myself feel so small again. But I have. More often than I’d like to admit to myself or anyone else. It’s hard to be assertive for yourself when you’ve spent most of your life taking a back seat. But it’s also getting harder not to. I still don’t believe I’m necessarily better than anyone, but I think I’m just as good. And my needs, wants or desires matter just as much as anyone else’s. However, I was reminded tonight that I’m still terrible at being direct about it. There’s still something in me that whispers, but maybe that won’t be ok. Maybe they won’t want to do that. Maybe you just expect too much. Maybe you should just stay silent. After all, coming right out and saying what I really want seems selfish somehow. And it runs the risk of being rejected. It’s not at all comfortable for me, but neither is feeling unimportant, or dismissed, or ridiculous. So I’m thankful for the reminder that I still have some work to do in this area. It should be interesting.

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