In today's edition of "Ask G, Anonymous writes:
"I am terribly passive. I don't know why my opinion is the slightest bit valid. Other people have no problem drawing boundaries in their life, pursuing what they want, and simply not accepting no for an answer when the situation dictates. Everyone I know seems to believe without question they deserve the finest things in life, and they pursue their goals and dreams relentlessly. They know they are gifted in some way and won't allow anyone to infringe on their talents and happiness. If they see others threatening their well-being, they use all their resources to keep themselves and their loved ones and friends protected. Must I have this sort of personality to be happy? If so, how will I ever develop it? In essence, I just can't stand conflict: there is not a person nor a thing in my life so valuable that I wouldn't acquiesce if someone trying to damage it pressed hard enough."
Dear Terribly Passive:
Let me just say right off the bat - I can completely relate to everything you're saying. I remember the first day I sat down in therapy I said - and I quote, "I just can't understand those girls who unapologetically ask for what they want." It was such an outrageous notion - asking for what you want and feeling you deserve it. And let me be clear - asking for what you want is not the same thing as demanding people buy you ponies and trips to Fiji (though it's fine to want those things - I currently want both of them). Asking for what you want is asking for what you deserve. Respect, justice, basic human decency - the same things everyone should feel entitled to.
I spent most of my life deferring to other people. I let others make my decisions and, when it pissed me off, I stood by and let the rage burn inside so as to avoid confrontation. You know what happened? I became a very sad, very angry and very sick person. I was willing to sacrifice my own health in order to make someone else happy. Pretty fucked up when you put it that way, right? It sounds like you might be doing the same thing.
Do you have to be the kind of person who goes to any length to get what they want in order to be happy? I don't think so. But I do think when you start to realize how powerful you are you will realize how to harness that power and use it to fairly and justly get what you want while feeling you deserve it. You need to learn stand up for what you believe is right just like you'd need to learn how to ride a bike. Changing the patterns, changing the way you react to things - it all takes time and practice. I know you want to be happy and I'm pretty sure you feel like you don't deserve it. Well I'm here to tell you you DO. But you have to do the work. You're not going to row that boat to shore by throwing out your paddles and wishing for wind. (Said in my best Dr. Phil voice.) You have to get down and dirty and DO THE WORK and, as I said yesterday, in my case The Work = therapy. Going to therapy doesn't have to mean you're "sick" or "broken" or any other terrible word associated with getting help. It's just an hour a week where you get to sit with an unbiased professional to get that stuff out of your brain. I heard a quote once, and I'm going to mangle it, but the jist of it was "once the lights are on, they can't be turned off." Basically, once you say something out loud enough times you'll truly be illuminated by it, learn from it and use it to move forward and grow out of that dark, confusing place.
If you have health insurance - great! You're one of the lucky ones and can find a therapist through your providor. If you're without insurance and located in NYC there is a great resource available for payments on a sliding-scale called The National Psychological Association for Psychoanalysis (NPAP). You have to do an intake interview (which they unfortunately charge for), but it's a great option and I have friends who use and speak very highly of this service. http://www.npap.org/about/index.html
I hope this helped a little, Anonymous. I know how terrible it can be to feel unworthy of happiness. You are worth something. You are worth a lot. Your opinions are valid and people want to hear them. It sounds daunting, but take it one session at a time and try to be as honest as you can. We need more strong, happy, confident women in this world! Best of luck to you, keep me updated, and remember - you're not alone!!