In an earlier blog post, I talked about a game we play as a family at the dinner table. Essentially, you start with one person at the table, and everyone else says something nice about them. Then that person has to say one nice thing about themselves before you move onto the next person.
I really love this game, and so do my kids (especially my oldest). But I have a confession: When we started the game, and before I really started therapy, it would fizzle out by the time it got to me.
We have three kids, and when we started playing the game (2 years ago), they were 5, 3 and a baby. It was hard to keep them focused, and something would happen at the table that would have us scrambling for a towel before the floor, table or phones got ruined.
But there was another reason that kept happening: I never stood up for myself and said, “Hey! We forgot to do me!” Primarily because I felt like it was OK to forget me, like I was not important enough to be honored in the game. Hopefully, we’re far enough along in this blog journey for you to realize it was my shame saying, “You aren’t special. It’s more important that other people hear nice things about themselves, because really, what would they say about you? Who are you, anyway?”
And even more hopefully, you realize that was a lie. I did deserve to be a part of that game! Heck, I came up with it! But I didn’t feel it in my heart. If I’m being honest, I also used it as an excuse to be angry at my husband: “If he really valued me he, would realize I had not had a turn yet.” Never mind the fact that he may have been soothing a crying baby, cleaning up a dumped cup of water or doing the dishes. I was feeling unloved and neglected, and it was everyone else’s fault but mine.
As I began to recognize my shame behaviors and triggers, I could see how during this game I could get triggered. I could only have value if someone else thought enough about me to say, “Hey! Mom hasn’t gone yet.” The truth was, they loved me regardless of whether they remembered me or not, but I was loved more by myself when I said “Hey! I haven’t had a turn yet.” No one resented me for speaking up. In fact, everyone (even the kids) would feel bad and compete over who could go first. I was the only one who thought I didn’t deserve to be recognized.
Now, when we play the table game, my kids are older and even the baby (who is almost 3 now) says something. Granted, he often says, “Poop” for everyone, but it makes us laugh, and he loves that. I rarely get forgotten in the game and sometimes even get the honor of going first. But thanks to my growth in therapy, I have the courage to speak up and say, “Hey! Don’t forget me.” Because I know I am worthy of their, and more importantly my own, love and respect.
I would humbly encourage you to look and see if there is an area in your life where you need to be saying, “Hey! What about me?” What’s holding you back from speaking out? Maybe next time when your moment comes, take a deep breath, close your eyes, and say, “Hey! What about me?”