Wednesday, January 24, 2007

From Nobody to Somebody

(Excerpts from Men are Just Desserts: How Learning to Be a Woman With a Life of Your Own Can Enrich the Life You Share with a Man by Sonya Friedman)

Who are the women who think of themselves as nobodies? How does a nobody behave?

A nobody is unable or afraid to say anything positive about herself.... A somebody would say: I did it! I got my license!" "I'm a good cook!"

A nobody cannot list her strengths. A somebody would say: "There are four qualities I know to be true about myself. I'm a good listener and a great friend. I'm reliable and I don't give away secrets."

A nobody advertises to others that she's needy for approval and would be willing to do anything to maintain a relationship... A somebody is aware of the difference between doing a favor for someone she cares about and enslaving herself to another's directives and approval. A somebody doesn't apologize for others' intended slights or oversights and would say: "You forgot my birthday and I'm a little hurt by it."

A nobody believes that because she's a woman any and every man is superior to her. She subscribes to fixed rules about what the sexes are "supposed" to be and do. These very narrow boundaries keep her in a subordinate position... Living under her husband's thumb, she diminishes the contributions she makes to the household and feel guilty if she wants more from life... A somebody recognizes that being a woman doesn't automatically label her as inferior. Nor does she feel that a man is doing her an inestimable favor by marrying her.

A nobody doesn't trust her judgements, values, or grasp of the facts. She gives over the authority to someone else... The nobody not only surrenders her position on judgements or information; more importantly, she hides the truth about her feelings. She never believes that what she's experiencing is true at all and is content with the alibis that others provide... A somebody has faith in her judgements and summons respect from others.

A nobody dislikes her own company and cannot entertain herself easily, have a laugh on her own, or go to a movie or dinner without someone by her side. Others validate her existence... A somebody knows that if she doesn't like being in her own presence, why should someone else? A somebody likes the respite that being alone provides and she is able to bring more of her real self to another -- not less.

A nobody makes no demands -- sexually, emotionally, or financially. Fearful that she'll be totally rejected if she asks for gratification of any sort, the nobody becomes accustomed to collecting the crumbs that others throw her... A somebody knows that she has the right to ask for what she thinks she deserves. She is willing to take a chance and ask, rather than be taken advantage of or taken for granted.

The nobody can't say no to anyone. She is always at another's beck and call, fearful that if she doesn't say yes, she will be punished by a withdrawal of love... A somebody sees the difference between asserting herself and subjugating herself to another.

A nobody can't be selective or turn anything down. A nobody is thrilled that she's had an an offer at all... Nobodies don't expect to matter, and they set up situations so they are proved right. A nobody makes a decision because she doesn't think she deserves any more. A nobldy will often select a man who mistreats her, because, she thinks, that man sees to her core of her soul and recognizes her lack of worth. And how smart of him! A man who would treat her well is a man who, in her estimation, doesn't have any sense at all!

A nobody has illusions that a man with a lot of confidence can fill that void in her -- and he'll have enough in store for the two of them. With a sigh of relief, the nobody murmurs, "Well, he's got it all. I don't have to worry about that now."

...Instead of learning about confidence from a man and emulating this quality, the woman who thinks she is a nobody tends to draw inward. Why? Because such women need to look up to a man. Desperate not to be an equal partner, but to make the man the main course, the nobody can shrink to virtually nothing. But it's worth the price, the nobody says, because I can look up to him.

One of the truths we have to live with is that we may wind up alone because of death, divorce, or desertion. We have to prepare for it. If you can't prepare for it within the marriage, how will you face it if it should crop up? And if you live as a nobody, where will you be?

Every woman has a responsibility to make herself economically and emotionally independent before she chooses a mate or she will be a "child bride" for the rest of her life. One reason she will not grow is that she has relinquished all her options and let her husband direct her life. But the more you do for yourself, the more you become a "somebody" for yourself and other people. As you become autonomous, you can give up being a nobody -- inside or outside of marriage. When you experience autonomy, you can invite people into your life because they're not going to be a threat to you. You never have to worry that you'll become permanently attached to a man as if you were a living appendage...

...What do you want from marriage? To share your life with someone you care about deeply, or to be taken care of like a child? To develop common goals with someone you respect, or to marry the man you believe will reach goals for you? To develop as an adult within an intimate relationship, or to remain a child who must still fo llow someone else's rules and be judged by someone else's standards? Look and the process and content of marriage, not the longevity. You can be married for twenty-five years and still be miserable, lonely, alienated...

... The wisest move you can make is to start to become an individual. And you don't even have to deal with issues of the past; these only complicate matters. History is written and you can't undo it, but you can attempt to change for tomorrow by making a small effort.

You don't need to assume the role of a nobody so that HE can be somebody...

2 comments:

Ian said...

Hey Cheryl !

Connie Banack said...

~hugs~ I hope you are doing well Cheryl, we haven't talked in too long. Thank you so much for your "From Nobody to Somebody" post as it hits home only too well. I can completely relate to not only this but your other posts and my thoughts and prayers are with you as we take this single motherhood journey together.