If you know me at all you know I’m opinionated, painfully so sometimes. One thing I’m full of opinions about is the concept of being a Martyr. I’m not talking about a secular and religious based deep passion type of Martyr. I’m talking more about your run of the mill daily life type. The Merriam-Webster definition I refer to specifically defines it as: a person who pretends to suffer or who exaggerates suffering in order to get praise or sympathy.
The personal aspect for ME is that my illness and the subsequent fall-out throughout every level of my life has left me reliant on others in ways that I never had to be before. It was both a difficult and a humbling lesson, one that I still struggle to come to terms with. On the whole I’m quite blessed to have a life filled with people who have been NOTHING but supportive, helpful and understanding ~ with no need or desire for accolades or quid-pro-quo and I’m eternally grateful to those people. In the course of my life, and this illness, I have however also encountered some Martyrdom that I have zero tolerance for.
When your life is turned upside down some illness or catastrophe though, it often puts you in the path of potential Martyr’s. They see nothing but opportunity in your struggle and pain, and though they might not in any way be out to cause you HARM ~ they are fully in search of the “glory”. Their priority is in fact the glory, not a genuine desire to help make someone else’s life better. Can I just tell you that this is in my top two pet peeves in LIFE! I’m a realist, honestly I’m neither a pessimist NOR an optimist. I’m the original “it is what it is” kind of girl. I don’t blow sunshine, I suck at pretending and though I don’t go out of my way to hurt or otherwise cause unpleasantness in anyone’s life, I am NO GOOD at social graces, and I’m even less skillful in engaging in anyone’s bullshit. If your flow is to be the center of whatever the “story of the week” is, it’s fairly unlikely that you and I will have much to talk about. I’m incredibly private, about my own stuff as well as those around me. I don’t dig for information from friends or acquaintances, if it’s not my concern I really don’t concern myself with it ~ period.
So when shit “got real” in my life, like the worst of the worst, over the last few years in dealing with this freaky illness and it’s Jenga impact on my world, I found myself at a loss. I did need help in ways I had never experienced before, and my understanding of “all time low” reached new depths. That being said and acknowledged, I am still me and anyone who expected the core of who I am to change was in for a big surprise. Here’s my fruit salad analogy.
If I ask you for a grape, and you give me one ~ you have both my appreciation and gratitude.
If I ask you for a grape, and you expect a strawberry next week in return that’s okay too. However I ask that you please TELL me that before you hand me the grape, then I can make an INFORMED decision on whether or not I wish to engage in this transaction.
If you have expectations of fruit in return and do NOT tell me that, then your disappointment is all on you. You cannot assume that I know what your expectations are and then cry foul when they go unmet.
If your only goal in giving me that grape is so that you can spread the word about how WONDERFUL and SELFLESS you are ~ do me a favor and keep your grape. In my experience good deeds that go unsung are the BEST good deeds that exist, and if a good deed is to be discussed it should NEVER be by the person doing the deed!
If you are going to give me the grape and then not only sing your praises (as outlined above) but you are going to now call that grape a FRUIT SALAD to boot, please do us both a favor and keep the grape.
That’s my fruit salad analogy lol, sounds silly but at it’s core it’s really how I feel. If I ask you for help you have a right to refuse, and you certainly have a right to agree but “with conditions”. I can accept BOTH of those things without any ill will. Where you lose me is when you try to turn it into something it’s not, and use my pain and suffering to make yourself out to be some kind of sainted gift from the heavens bestowed upon me. Please don’t do shit I didn’t even ASK for and then try to make me feel “guilty” about it. Please don’t “embellish” your role, or what I asked of you, and for christ’s sake don’t cry about how I didn’t hold up “my end of the bargain” when you never once TOLD me that your “help” came with conditions.
If you gave me the grape it’s likely that I’m going to share that with those closest to me, as an acknowledgement of my gratitude and my appreciation for you help. Your help that was a choice you made, a kindness I will forever feel a debt for. I refuse to allow our “grape exchange” however to become your own personal tribute to the greatness that is you, and allow you to make me feel some kind of guilt for a freaking fruit salad that I neither asked for or received.
My lack of willingness to engage in this nonsensical bullshit in no way makes me ungrateful for the grape that you gave me. Of COURSE I am grateful, and humbled and appreciative; all of those things and more. What I am not is a pawn in your game of self service. I do not appreciate having my struggle or the pain in my life used “against me” in this way, and I do not take kindly to being called a bitch for not holding up my end of a contract that I never signed. Had I known you expected a strawberry in return for that grape up front, I could have easily said “thank you anyways I appreciate your consideration” and moved on.
I don’t know if a Martyr KNOWS they are engaging in this when they do, because I’m not a psychiatrist or any other kind of ist. I have to think though that on SOME level they DO know what is in their own mind and I just cannot get my head around how they think it’s okay to do that to people. I can tell you that if I do something for you it’s likely that #1. I’m not going to tell anyone and #2. I’m going to request that YOU not tell anyone. If you mean enough to me to do something I’m doing it BECAUSE you mean enough to me ~ end of story. I don’t want any freaking critical acclaim or awards for it. I believe that part of being a HUMAN is having compassion and wanting to make life better for a fellow human being where possible. That’s my penny and a half on the Martyr life and how intolerant I really am.