deserts, part 2

I deserve the same rights as everyone else.  That means I have the responsibility to work towards human rights.  For everyone.  For me.

Everyone deserves these things.

But I don’t think that’s what my therapist was getting at.  She wasn’t asking what everyone deserves — she was asking what I deserve.  I, as an individual.  Not as one in six billion; as me.  Ginger and Lime.*  And that’s still the hard part of the question.  Who gets to decide?  How do I know what I deserve?  Is she asking me to guess?

It’s such a murky territory.  Do I deserve to live in a house instead of in a shelter?  Yes, I think I do, but so do the people who actually live in shelters.

Do I deserve to eat healthy food?  Yes, I think I do, but so do the people who live in food deserts.**

Do I deserve to have a job?  Yes, I think I do, but so do the 9.4 percent of Americans currently looking for work.

Every day I thank my lucky stars.  Or whatever deity may be out there.  Or maybe just my lucky accident of birth.  And now I get to the heart of the matter, the hard questions that I’ve been circling around all this time.

Do I deserve to make music, even hemidemisemiprofessionally as I do? Lots of people are out there practicing more, playing better, networking and fundraising better, and I count myself extremely fortunate to have had the opportunities I’ve been given.

Do I deserve to be loved? I am monumentally lucky to have found my amazing husband, who loves me despite apparently neverending depression and the failure to adequately financially support his graduate school, not to mention my frequent lack of interest in anything but lying down.  I am also lucky not to have alienated my entire family, although I am developing an unfortunate habit of taking their kind gestures in the worst possible way.

Do I deserve to be a parent?*** This is the big one, of course.

How can I ever know the answer?

*Someday  I will tell you all my name.  It will be anticlimactic.

**Technically I do live in a food desert, but thankfully I have a car.  Do I deserve it?

***Apparently not, at least according to my Midwestern state (my employer, which excludes fertility treatments from insurance coverage — yes, I’m one of those dreaded government workers!) or the People’s Republic of China (I fail to meet at least two of the requirements to adopt from China).

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7 responses to “deserts, part 2

  1. I like this question–it seems like a simple way of getting a person to feel more entitled. But it also seems like feeling entitled is at odds with your VERY acute social conscience (seriously, can’t you be more of a selfish pig, like me) and your Buddhist leanings. Still, being told I deserve things makes me burst into tears, and I think it’s because those of us who are accustomed to denying ourselves things are always kind of stunned to be told we are worthy.

    I personally have a knee jerk psychological reaction that several therapists have tried to train me out of. When I talk about something bad that happened to me, I automatically add a caveat that I am grateful that it wasn’t worse. Maybe it’s just me trying to make it clear to the fates that I’m not complaining (lest I be visited with something worse), but maybe it’s more that minimizing is a good coping strategy for those of us who need to keep on keepin’ on in spite of obstacles.

    ANYWAY, I hope she takes this exercise to a good place. I think it could be valuable to cut the balance of good and bad in the world at large out of the equation and focus on your own personal worthiness, even if that runs totally counter to many aspects of your thinking.

  2. You DO deserve all of the above. I don’t want to go all Oprah on you, but I’m gonna – I know this Marianne Willimason quote is super cliche, but it’s also good advice:

    Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

  3. I think you deserve all of the above. We all do.
    Unfortunately, as you said, deserving and getting it are not the same. But that does not mean you do not deserve it.

    Also, like you describe, I often think of how amazingly lucky I am in many areas of my life, and how I can be so greedy and want even more. And then I see others who seem to have it all, and wonder how they can deserve it and I might not. And feel bad for even thinking that…

    I hope your therapist has some good insight on this.

  4. So thought provoking G&L!!! Its easy for me to say you deserve to be a parent but I know how hard it is to believe that for yourself.
    It just comes back to self confidence in my mind. You could have two people just as deserving as each other but one has higher self confidence so they will say proudly that they deserve XYZ, whereas the quieter more self conscious person will question if they deserve anything.

    But you do deserve to be a parent. You do. I hope you’re able to answer that question proudly next time your therapist asks. xxx

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  6. Sometimes disentitlement reaches too far for a therapist to let it go. I applaud your therapist. I wouldn’t let you get away with it either.
    You see, your social conscience is a thing of beauty. I am continually amazed by it. But how to balance your deep commitment to social justice and your important commitment to personal well being? And do they have to be at odds? No. No they don’t.
    I wrestle with those questions too, G&L. I just want to say that I would like you to find a way to feel better. I hope for you to emerge out of this depression soon. If it helps to think about it in this way: the world needs you, and needs you well.

  7. Pingback: why i choose him | ginger and lime

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