It’s been countless times now when I’ve been forced to gather my anger and shrivel into a small apologetic mouse to pacify others that — looking back on it — were quite in the wrong.
My high school boyfriend got me to agree that him flirting with other girls and going on car rides with them after school, rather than answering my calls, was okay by saying he thought I was more secure than that.
“Oh, I’m sorry. You’re right; I overreacted,” I replied, ready to ask for a second chance if he threatened to break up with me.
The girl that unfriended me on Facebook during college, after I confronted her about cancelling our plans, made me think that I was just too boring to hang out with when I saw the pictures she posted of the much prettier and more exciting girls who had won the gold ticket of a night out with her.
“It’s okay if you want to come over another day. Maybe I forgot that you said you were busy,” I texted, hoping she wouldn’t ignore me.
I was always the person who made excuses for other people turning their backs on me. I thought it was a gift of mine — to always see the best in others. But when I became a mother, it was game over. No more playing nice. People who treated me badly didn’t consider me a priority, and not only did I need to recognize that, but I had to make them aware that I knew what was going on and wouldn’t be treated like a piece of candy from 1947.
You get what I mean.
So what is life like now that I’m a mom and know my worth? It’s still downright sucky sometimes. Finding friends who care is difficult and learning when to confront others is an uphill climb. I don’t go around strutting myself like Heidi Klum or a Kardashian, but I do understand how critical it is for my son to have a parent who can stand up for him.
Figuring out how to stand up for myself was step one, but I’ve made enormous progress in that regard, and I encourage other “sensitive” moms to do the same. Because having feelings is normal. Behaving like you’re the only one who has feelings (i.e. those who judge us for getting offended, but then turn around and play the victim when someone says something unpleasant to them) is not.
The waitress who laughed when she accidentally spilled hot marinara sauce on my lap, barely missing my newborn, cost her restaurant the price of my meal and my sweater. I didn’t hesitate to talk to her manager because she put my child in danger. Not only should she have been more careful, but she should have apologized for being so nonchalant with her sizzling dish near my baby.
When my OB started writing lies in my medical record because I had asked simple questions that he couldn’t answer, I wrote an 11-page letter to his department explaining how their staff either needed more training or more educational materials for female patients, and that I didn’t appreciate being glared at during appointments when I made decisions for my own body after conducting my own research. This male doctor thought I should do everything he said and stop being difficult, but I didn’t have to undress just because it was “routine,” and I had a right to say “no” to prenatal screens.
Back in college, I didn’t have the nerve to tell my gynecologist that the male student she allowed to enter the room made me uncomfortable, but now I was taking charge, even if it wasn’t what others wanted. What I wanted mattered, too.
My mother told my husband he was a piece of crap because he didn’t work and stayed home with our son. She said if it were her, she never would have married him because he’s useless. Then months later when she told me (instead of asking) that she was considering staying at our house for a few months so she could save on rent, I told her I needed to be sure she would respect my family and our parenting decisions. I reminded her that she hid my son’s medicines after accusing my husband of trying to put my son in a drug-induced sleep so he could play more video games. All she said was, “Really? You’re simply too sensitive. This is why we didn’t even want to talk to you about it.”
Excuse me?! You’re inviting yourself to my house without any plans of discussing it with me and when I forgive you for that and lay down that my only condition is for you to show me some respect, you tell me I’m the one that’s in the wrong for not letting you act however you damn well please, even though you’re a grown adult. AND my mother.
No. You cannot stay with us.
My siblings, friends, and in-laws constantly act like I’m this horrible person they shouldn’t talk to because I “take things the wrong way,” but I turned off my shitty people filter long ago. My brain will no longer transform their comments into sweet, sugar-filled words due to my lack of self-confidence or inclination towards self-doubt. I will no longer be shamed for having feelings, just because they want the freedom to say anything they please whenever they please without having to deal with my reaction… and, consequently, possibly having to explain themselves or apologize for not thinking about what they say before they say it.
It’s unfortunate that there are still moms out there apologizing for other people, making excuses to smooth out awkward situations, or turning the other cheek to save friendships that aren’t worth saving. Well, I’ve worn myself out turning both my cheeks to the fire of people’s cruelty and selfishness, so I’m turning my former passiveness into a dignified strength my son will be proud of one day. If I can speak up my mind to people who hurt me or flagrantly ignore my needs, I’ll be able to vocalize my opinions in school meetings, family events, doctor appointments, and more when it’s my son’s well-being and feelings at stake.
Yes, I’m still more sensitive than others, but that’s not a crime, and it’s unreasonable to ask me to mute my feelings and allow others to disrespect me simply because they think they have more of a right to express their opinion than me.
Sorry not sorry. I’m not “too sensitive,” you’re just rude.
Originally published on Scary Mommy.