Don’t appreciate me, I’m not up to it. Don’t criticize me, I don’t deserve it. Just be my friend and forgive me, because I am craving for it.”
Yesterday I wrote about an interloper’s comments pushed at me early in this experience. They wrote I “don’t deserve any answers,” from C in response to a series of questions I asked. Someone else told me I “deserve to live in my van.”
As I said, these two phrases have really stuck with me. Now after reading this story I know why.
I cannot count the number of times I’ve said to K, she “deserves to be loved.” I’ve said the words to plenty of people over the last 50 years trying to offer comfort to others when they had their heart’s broken, when they told me of abuse, or as I listened to others in the rooms of Al-Anon and AA.
I’ve had it said to me too.
Recently something interesting happened. I said “you deserve to be loved” to a friend as we discussed the rapes, abuse, and neglect at the hands of her ex-husband. I said it out of love, empathy, and concern.
She responded, “I think there is something wrong with deserving.”
Her response caused me to consider what do I deserve? Do I deserve forgiveness? Punishment? Opportunity? Love? Closure? Answers?
SIDEBAR: I would say, “Nope,” and in my situation, I have never said otherwise…but even my answer has an implied judgment of my value.
Who am I to decide what others deserve? Who are you to decide who is and isn’t worthy of what and when? Does anyone deserve anything from me? Do C or K deserve anything from me now? Did they ever?
There certainly is an inherent arrogance in the word. Reading her response has forced me to rethink my use of these words. Misuse? I’ll be curious what you think.
Let the pain have a purpose.
About the Author
Two years out from her divorce from a narcissist, today’s contributor lives in the Upper Midwest surrounded by friends, flowers, and wildlife. Some of those are the same.
What is Deserved?
A friend told me last night I deserved to be loved by someone with their whole heart. And though I get what he was saying, it disturbed me enough that I am up in the middle of the night writing.
See, I think there is something wrong with deserving. If it is me saying “I deserve…” it is an entitlement.
So what happens when I don’t get it?
I had a hard week, I deserve a double scoop of my favorite premium ice cream in a waffle cone. Really?
Do I deserve my pipes freezing up? Do I deserve to get cut off in traffic?
If I believe I don’t deserve it, then I am angry when it happens – it’s not fair – I deserve to have a free lane of travel. Again, really?
And when someone else says it – you deserve to be happy – it is nothing more than a judgment. In someone else’s judgment, I am deserving of happiness.
Because I earned it? Because I am worthy in their eyes? And those who are not worthy in their eyes? Do they not deserve to be happy?
I am worthy of love because I am. Everyone is worthy of love. I’m worthy of love because I am love. Everyone is love. Everything is love. It is not earned, it is not a competition. Love is not a finite resource.
We deserve nothing. We deserve everything. It is just another way to feel entitled, to set expectations, to judge.
There is no “deserve”.
We don’t deserve to live, to be happy or to find true love. We just live; we’re either happy or we’re not, we are always love. Sometimes, these things are challenged and only faith to what connects us all can see us through.
I am not entitled to anything. I may work hard and not have anything to show for it. I’m not entitled to honesty, support, friendship, kindness, money, a roof over my head, a phone call from my kid on Mother’s Day. A birthday party or working dishwasher.
I’m grateful for these things when they happen, but I don’t deserve them.
Maybe that is the difference – deserving sets up expectations. Which sets up disappointment.
On the other hand if we can just be grateful for what we have – a working body and mind, friends, family, loved ones, a beloved pet, a job, a chance to be in nature, to watch the hummingbird or indigo bunting at the bird feeder, and maybe a chance to make a positive difference in someone’s life, we may find we are entitled to nothing but we have everything.