Come here and sit with me for a few minutes, my lovely – there’s something I want to tell you.
It’s not a big thing, and really no more than semantics and a measure of stubbornness on my part, but it’s something which sticks in my craw and I want to get cleared up once and for all, and it’s this: No, you don’t deserve me.
You’ve been tricky to find lately, and I feel as though I’ve caught echoes of your laughter or seen the place where you were but moments before. I’ve held out my hands to catch the kisses you’ve blown as you’ve zephyred past and out of sight again, consumed by the need to be present elsewhere. Keeping up with you is like trying to hold onto a shadow, and you’re in grave danger of becoming Mythical, but at whatever point you settle to tidy your wings and sup a little something before taking flight once more, I hope that you find time to read this.
I felt like an asshole when we last spoke. I probably behaved a bit like one, too. You used a word (quite innocently) in reference to yourself, and it cut at me. Such a simple, little word. So much inherent within it, which I refuse to accept. So instead of continuing the conversation and just enjoying your presence, I took issue. But I want to tell you WHY, in more detail than I gave you back then…
We say it when a badly-behaved person gets their come-uppance.
We say it when we feel we’ve accomplished something good and want to reward ourselves.
We say it when we see something good happen to someone we admire.
We say it when we see something bad happen to someone we dislike.
We use it to judge.
We use it to confer worth.
It seems to be the adult equivalent of ‘good boy’ or ‘bad girl!’, where a child’s personal value and goodness somehow becomes dependent on their actions. I remember being taught to never, ever, ever use those terms, because children are intrinsically valuable, and although their behaviour might be more or less desirable, nothing can alter how worthwhile they are.
Furthermore, it serves as a measure of entitlement; a justification for celebration or condemnation, depending on the antecedent. Advertising uses it to sell products to people who feel as though they should have expense and luxury.
It’s very affirming, as long as you forget that one false move – one slip-up or goof or alteration of behaviour into a more negative pattern – and you could be very rapidly stripped of your position as one of life’s successes. From there, you are trapped, because you bought into the idea that as long as you are behaving in ‘good’ ways, then you are enough – you are deserving.
But then the inverse must surely be true – that if you behave in negative ways, you are no longer deserving.
Worse, the things you want and don’t get, or the situations you wish could be rectified, those things have gone wrong because you haven’t behaved well enough to deserve them. And somehow other people get these things handed to them on a plate? They’re more worthwhile than you – they must be – they got the things and you didn’t. But NO! That can’t be right? Surely ‘deserve’ is beyond behaviour, isn’t it?
Maybe she’s born with it. Maybe it’s entitlement. Because you’re worth it.
I do very badly with ‘deserving’ because I’ve never really thought that I do. Previously that was down to a complete lack of self-worth, but lately things have shifted for the better on that front. There’s still no ‘deserving’, though, because if I deserve the good, for the places and times I’ve behaved well or been worthy enough, then I also deserve the bad, for the places and times when I haven’t.
And in some ass-backward karmic shuffle, that means that I’m shunted into history and once more fighting the thought that I miscarried because I didn’t deserve to be a mother, which is ridiculous. The ability to reproduce has nothing to do with personal worth. From thence we can jump off into all kinds and manners of measuring a person, their actions, their personality…all this judgement, whether against others or self, leaves us tangled and hung-up on whether or not anyone’s really worth it.
Not to mention the obligation it would put on each of us if we were to truly attempt to meet the expectations of all the spoken, visible or physical affirmations given to us, because they were ‘deserved’…wWe would go quite mad.
When you told me you didn’t deserve my friendship, in spite of the flippancy of the remark, it stayed with me, brooding in a corner of my soul, because I don’t want you to feel that way, not even in jest or light-heartedness. I also rankle at the suggestion that my (or anyone’s) friendship is something another person could be entitled to, or a thing which is too good for them because of who or how they are.
And so I wrote this, because I love you dearly, and I want you to understand the knots this word ties me into:
Knots, because I’ve seen the ways you can make your friends light up with your care and attention.
Knots, because I’ve observed your anger and your gloom and resignation.
Knots, because I’ve been blessed with your love.
Knots, because there have been times when I’ve felt you’ve forgotten me.
Knots, because you’re incredible and brave and beautiful and amazing and creative and kind and talented and wonderful.
Knots, because you can be snarky and grouchy and careless and distant and snappish.
Knots, because my friendship could never be reward nor punishment enough for any of those, nor do I wish it to be.
Knots, because I know that whatever you do or say, or don’t, you can’t possibly deserve me…
…and butterflies, because no, my darling, you don’t deserve me – I choose you.