Like my co-blogger Ruth and her mother-in-law (see previous post, "The Value of a Woman") and many more women, I'm sure, I am looking for a better balance between what's desired and what's required in my life. Whether I was trained to it or born to it, in my early years I saw my needs as secondary to those of my parents, my brother, and then my husband, children, and friends. Like the archetypical obedient child, I did what was expected of me. I did what was required to the best of my ability, and I didn't spend much time thinking about what I desired. If I wanted or needed something and fulfillment didn't interfere with anyone else, I usually got it. If my desire conflicted with another's, I deferred to what I interpreted as their greater need.
I want you to know that I thought I was being objective, carefully weighing those needs against each other and concluding that the other person REALLY wanted theirs, while I, well, I could get along quite well without having my own way all the time, couldn't I? And didn't it make me happy to see my loved ones satisfied and fulfilled? And didn't I get comfort from avoiding conflict and the possibility of rejection?
In recent years, though, I've started to wonder. Did I perhaps go overboard with the self-sacrifice? Did I turn myself into a wishy-washy doormat instead of the loving and giving nurturer I thought I should be? I'm often envious of people who seem able to stick to their guns and get their own way 90% of the time; but, in general, I don't like them or respect them. The people I admire stand up for themselves in a most pleasant way and get what's important without walking all over everybody else.
My ideal self is assertive without being aggressive, accommodating without being subservient, a partner rather than slave or master. Old habits are hard to break, but I'm strong. I am proud of the woman who is emerging as I move toward my ideal.