Friday, October 29, 2010
I’ve truly never considered myself spoiled until just recently. Instead, I consider myself a woman who knows what she wants and takes it, and also until just recently I considered this to be a very good thing. I can now say unequivocally that I am spoiled, but things weren’t always like that.
Growing up, we went through periods of “have” and “have not”, but even when we “had” I wasn’t ever spoiled. Although she never controlled the purse strings for the family, my mom made damn sure my dad held them tight. Growing up poor, she wanted to make sure our needs were provided for, while my dad, raised straight middle class, was more concerned in my individual ability to earning all those extras that I wanted. If you work hard then you can play hard is something I learned in not so many words at a fairly early age. I gladly worked hard to do my chores and earn my allowance, and I never minded working hard because the payoff was always adequate. However, in the times of “have not”, I knew well enough not to expect the opportunity to earn an allowance. Instead, I made sure not to rock the boat, and I held my breath until we made it past those points – the last of which was about a two-year period of severe instability ending when I was 11 years old. From that I developed many lifelong goals that I still hold on to today, some of which you’ve heard me talk about here before. Namely, I’m willing to do whatever it takes to ensure I’m stable enough that I always have a place to live. That’s a fairly easy goal to meet: find and secure shelter. It’s that basic goal that stemmed from a very bad period in time that I think has ultimately contributed to my spoiled nature as an adult.
During those two years that we were without a home things were tight. Food was tight. It sounds severe, but there really was no, “I’m hungry, let’s go find a snack.” Food, like money, was carefully portioned, and like I did with my prior allowance, I largely enabled myself to give up food as enjoyment so as to “not rock the boat”. I didn’t even really think about it at the time this was happening – I just knew it was how things were going to be for now, and I always held out hope that things would get better – if not when I was a child, when I was an adult. Then I’d have control over my own destiny, and I could provide for myself, getting what I want. One day I woke up an adult (last Tuesday, FTW) and realized my daydreams as a poor child had come true – I had not only secured a home, but I had also secured a life where I was able to conceal past wounds and consume until I had more than made up for the sacrifice I made in those two years some twenty years ago.
I found myself wanting to Tweet the other day, “I’m not used to not getting what I want.” It was then that I realized I’m spoiled. And it’s true, I’m NOT used to not getting what I want, and lately it’s been causing me a world of hurt in my heart and in my head, because I don’t just spoil myself with material things – I also expect others to bend to my will. God only knows how those of you who know me put up with me.
Another downside to my knowing what I want and taking it is my relationship with food. I realized last week while on my first week of Weight Watchers that I’m really not used to telling myself no. I want it, I get it, I eat it. I may know things are bad for me, and trust me I do self-regulate with food in other ways. I do have rules. For instance, I really try to only eat one processed item a day and eat whole foods the rest of the day, but I do this because I know it’s good for me and my body. It’s the quantity and variety of whole foods that I use to spoil myself. It fits my guidelines, but it’s more and it’s different, so I want it. Really, that’s my mantra with everything (not just food): it’s more and it’s different, so I want it.
Could I really be making up for those teensy two years of lost time with a life of varied obsession?
I’m scared that I am. It’s funny how intuitively I’ve been obsessed (in other ways) with the idea of balance for the last year or so. It’s like I knew I need a more balanced life, but maybe I just can’t figure out how to truly make it balanced until I address the source of the imbalance? Man, I hope I’m not over thinking things.
In an attempt to gain some balance and shake my compulsion to make up for that two year period of past painful events, I think an easy place to start saying “no” is with food. Now, I’m not going crazy here, and I’m not going to say “no” all the time – I’m not going to deny food as an element of celebration associated with holidays or birthdays, but I really could stand to deny varied overindulgence as a way of coping with, say, a day of stressful meetings at the office remedied by a large dinner and dessert.
Balance is hard, y’all. But I think figuring out your unseen motives in life is even harder. While I may have a long standing track record of spoiling myself, I think that’s relatively okay, but I do need to consider who I am without all the shit I yearn to consume. What I truly need to learn to be okay with is just being, and that, my friends, may take damn near a lifetime to perfect.