Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Learning to Advocate for Myself

A recurring theme in my life, not being "Good Enough", has reared its ugly head again.

I am allergic to the wool carpet in our new house. This is a known allergy and we presumed I would suffer a bit when we moved in but had hoped that it would be mild enough that replacing the flooring could wait until we went, room by room, and redecorated the whole space.

Unfortunately, my reaction to the house has been swift and total. Inhalers needed, skin erupting in rashes... the works.

In dealing with all of this, already feeling low physically (it's exhausting being itchy 24/7) and emotionally (I find I'm still horrendously embarrassed by my eczema, even after more than 40 years with it), I took a backseat. I sat back and allowed Spouse to make decisions about how and when the flooring would be replaced because I didn't want to make waves, I didn't want to add stress where it wasn't necessary. And I started to feel worse. My health, I felt, wasn't being taken seriously. I wasn't being "heard".

Spouse and I got into a very slightly heated discussion about the flooring and timings, etc, about what I thought we should be doing versus what Spouse thought we should do... And why my needs were being ignored... and it was pointed out to me that I wasn't being "heard" because I wasn't saying anything!

I had been grumping around the house, miserable, sore, itchy - not telling Spouse how bad I felt, not communicating how much I was suffering.

I expected Spouse to know - and then was upset to discover that they didn't. Not to the extent that I was feeling it. Of course Spouse knows I'm suffering. It was obvious to anyone who sees me.... What Spouse couldn't have known, however, was how I am feeling, how much it's actually affecting me, how I feel emotionally and mentally because of the situation.

I briefly struggled to figure out why I would have trouble telling Spouse what my needs were. It didn't take long, though, to work out... In various, large portions of my life, the things I said, when I declared my needs, fell on deaf, impatient ears.

Throughout my life I had been ignored. Directly, wilfully, deliberately, indirectly, ignorantly, unwittingly... I have been ignored by my most primary relationships. Not all the time, of course. And sometimes, I was simply dismissed.

Through all of this, I learned. I learned that telling people what I needed, how I felt, what I wanted, even, was an exercise in futility at best and, at worst, in pain. It hurts to be ignored or dismissed and I can't tell you which is worse.

Now that I'm in my first healthy relationship, I'm having to relearn a lot of my behaviours and responses... I'm having to learn that it's not only OK to express what I need, it's essential, it's vital in a healthy relationship.

And I'm having to learn that my words will be listened to, that my voice will be heard.

I am learning that I am Good Enough.

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