I’m not very good at putting myself first! I genuinely feel that I am doing people a service by elevating their needs, wants and desires above my own. Yet, when I am honest about it it actually tends to be of disservice to me in the long-run. While I was drinking I did it because I felt like I needed to be constantly finding some way to apologise for my bad-days behaviour. So putting others first seemed like a good way of showing them that even though I may have been verbally aggressive towards them over the weekend or failed to show up because I was too hungover to function, didn’t mean that they weren’t important to me. So I got into the habit of doing things for my friends and family that didn’t always take my needs, wants and desires into consideration and sometimes even left me feeling a little hostile towards them.
Unfortunately this is now seen as being part of who I am. Always happy to be agreeable and maintain the status quo to avoid confrontation where possible and go along with what the other person or people have in mind. The problem is that now that I’m not drinking and having to be constantly apologetic, I find that I’ve started to feel really hostile towards these same people when they do this, because now I feel like they are taking advantage of my niceness. I’m not a total pushover, but in the realms of insignificance I chose not to do battle. So I’ll consent on the trivial things over and over again, and it’s started to piss me off about myself. I’m not talking anything that goes against my moral fibre, but rather decisions over evenings out, places to eat, leisure time, what’s on the TV, which movie to watch…you get the idea. I’m starting to think that I should stand up for myself a little more in the respect that my opinion, no matter how insignificant the subject, should matter to the decisions taken.
I constantly hear myself saying things like, “whatever works for you” and “I’m really not that fussy”, but actually when I start to think about it there are times when I’m not that happy with the option. I grew up with parents that fought about really stupid things that still don’t make any sense to me and I’ve always believed that compromise is important. The problem is I think I’ve swung to the opposite extreme where there’s no compromise because that actually entails discussion and reaching a mutual decision. And I don’t want to carry this into my new relationship because I can only imagine that I’ll start to become resentful of the fact that I’m just too acquiescent. I’m not talking about constantly disagreeing over the silly little things, but if I don’t have any practice how do I voice what’s important to me on the larger issues!?
I’ve learned how to stand up for myself professionally. I guess I just need to take myself more seriously in the personal sphere of my life and talk about the things that matter when choices crop up. There are things that I’m willing to let slide, but I suppose what I’m getting at is that I need to be more vigilant about just letting things go and then regretting that I didn’t give voice to my wants, needs and desires at the time. There are so many new skills that I’m having to learn as my journey into sustainable recovery lengthens that it can be a bit daunting at times. However, I do need to remind myself that I have 20+ years of self-neglect and bad habits to undo and underdeveloped and new personal skills to sharpen and acquire. At the moment I’m going to focus on looking for the assurance inside and sticking up for myself when it matters.
‘Til next time