Sunday, May 13, 2012

Ask For What You Want

Happy Mother's Day to all you mothers out there, myself included. I was looking at all the HMD posts on FB and remembered a gripe my mother has expressed on countless occasion. She tells the story of a time when she and my father were fighting about his lack of involvement around Mother's Day. They had five, yes five, children between them. Both theirs from their union. No blended families. So my mom is angry that my father does not honor her the way she would like to be honored on Mother's Day. My father's response, one he would never live down, was "You're not my mother."

Whew! Have you ever heard a more argumentative invitation between a husband and wife? Holy Shit, Dude! What were you thinking?! I don't remember what followed. I was either too young to remember or more likely, blocked it out. My parents fought quite a bit, and it wasn't pretty. What I do know is that my mother still, to this day, talks about that. In fact, I am about to call her, and I'll bet she brings up that story.

I do have a memory from about teenage years. I was in the kitchen with both my parents. My father had gotten some drinking glasses. They were packaged in a box, short glasses with birds on them. Not particularly interesting. Ugly, really. Not the particular taste of anyone in our family. My dad worked in the Automotive Trades division of 3M Company. He often got freebies of many kinds. I had the sense that these glasses were a "gift" from one of those exchanges. He brought them to my mother as a gift for her. I want to say it was Mother's Day, but I'm not certain.

SHE   WAS   FURIOUS!   And she let him know it, too. She let him know that this wasn't a real gift. It wasn't something she would want. He should know that, and if he paid attention, if he really loved her he would know that. On and on she went. I watched as my father's shoulders drooped. It was a familiar dance. I had the sense my father, on some subconscious level, set this scenario up over and over again. It was familiar. Still, as I watched my father, I felt sorry for him. I thought to myself, "If I were him, I would never give gifts. If that's what I got, I'd say F*** YOU! Get your own damn gift!"

As I remembered all this, while I sat sipping my Starbucks on my couch this morning, I wondered how many women were angry and disappointed that they were not honored for Mother's Day in the way that they wanted to be? Or forget Mother's Day, angry that they were not honored for _______ (you fill in the blank), or loved the way that they wanted to be. And out of these angry women, how many of them held the belief that "If he loved me, he should know". 

If you are one of those women, and I have been, I have a question for you. How is that working for you? Take a good, hard look at what that belief, that inner message has cost you all these years.  Isn't it counter-productive to getting your needs met? If you are willing to take a hard look, you will see that this is your part, your piece in creating this dynamic. This is one of the ways in which you, yourself, have perpetuated the problem.

Wouldn't it be nice to let that garbage go and replace it with a belief that actually helps you get what you want? What would it be like to ask directly, clearly and cleanly for what you want, with love and vulnerability? Sure, it will be new and awkward and uncomfortable, and even scary in its vulnerability. But isn't that why it's called a stretch? Isn't that the nature of "stepping out of your comfort zone"? It's not supposed to be comfortable, because you are in fact stepping out of your comfort, consciously and intentionally in order to grow soulfully and spiritually.

So I invite you, women and men, begin a new practice. Ask for what you want. Make it clear. Make a list. Make a list of what kind of behaviors make you feel loved, honored, seen, and appreciated. Make a list of your own personal love language and then make an appointment with the person you want to hear it. Yes. I said make an appointment. Set aside a time with no interruptions. A time that is honored as special. Be intentional about it. Set healthy boundaries around it. Take turns. Don't interrupt. Use a timer if needed. The point is, you create what you want. Step out of the victim role. You are responsible for your own happiness. That's a good thing! Enjoy.

With Love,


Lady said...

I couldn't agree more. Well said!

Sylvia said...


cinnflowergirl said...

I often struggle with this. I think deep down I don't think I deserve to get what I want. I have asked and it is scary, but I am a lot more likely to get my needs met.

What if you are the one that is expected to guess? What if you are the clueless one getting it wrong?

Julia Speer said...

To Cinnflowergrl:
Your questions, "What if you are the one that is expected to guess? What if you are the clueless one getting it wrong?" are questions I believe many women would ask. My answer is this:

You are not responsible for another person's expectations.

Just because the other person "expects" you to guess or mind read, does not mean that you have to do that. In fact, you can't. It is impossible. Certainly you can "guess", as you say. But energy spent on that is enabling behavior. It enables the other person to continue in their behavior. Your
"guessing" keeps them from taking responsibility for their own asking for what they want.

(Sorry it took me a year to respond. I kept your response in my e-mail because I knew some day I would want to respond. This morning I just figured out who you are. :)