Justification Rehabilitation

March 19, 2006

I was rather surprised that most of you admitted to being fans of corned beef and cabbage. That is incomprehensible to me, but I don’t like ham, either, so to each his own. For the record, I let the corned beef cook all day. I added peppercorns, potatoes, onions and carrots. No butter and mustard, though. I didn’t know about that, but I can’t imagine that those things would have made much of a difference in the palatability of the meat. Corned beef served that way is simply not to my taste. All I can say is, those of you who like it can have it! I’ll stick with reuben sandwiches from now on.

By the way, I didn’t like the Irish soda bread I bought to go with the meal, either. But I did enjoy the glass of Baileys® Irish Cream.

I had to chuckle when I was reading the comments and found this from Daniel:

“As Stephanie’s husband and the lucky recipient of her daily culinary masterpieces, I can tell you that Stephanie’s corned beef and cabbage was out of this world! Every night I say to Stephanie, “This is the greatest meal I’ve ever had!” And paradoxically, each time I say it I truly mean it! I also bring Stephanie’s leftovers to work with me each day, and everyone comments on the intoxicating aroma. Am I biased? So was Julia Child’s husband.”

You should know that Daniel hates cheese, so you can take his opinion about food with a grain of salt. *wink*

I want to thank everyone for the messages of concern and encouragement in reference to the never-ending headaches from hell. The support of the online journaling community has been a tremendous source of inspiration and comfort to me over the years. Bless you all.


I’ve been thinking that I should fire my doctor for quite some time now. I’d much prefer to have a female primary care physician. It has been my experience that women doctors pay more attention to what I have to say about my health issues. Unfortunately, I’ve had to change doctors I trusted in the past for one reason or another (they moved out of the area, I had problems with their office staff not relaying my messages, etc.).

Not driving is one of the reasons I’ve stuck with Dr. WDYWMTD (What Do You Want Me To Do). His office is within walking distance, which is a major consideration for me. There is now a woman doctor at that practice, so I’ll see if I can switch over to her.

LA’s remark about “no more justifying” made a particular impression on me. She is absolutely right. That is exactly what I do. I’ve spent so many years being made to feel that I have to defend myself, and even make apologies to others because of the effect my chronic pain has on them. That is rather ironic, considering that they don’t seem to really care about the effect it has on ME, or, in some cases, even believe that my pain is real.

Back in the diary-x day, I wrote:

My family’s insensitivity to my pain is demoralizing and frustrating, to say the least. The fact that people don’t take this condition seriously because they can’t see anything wrong with me, and instead seem to dismiss my level of suffering as imaginary, makes it all the more difficult to bear. I am made to feel guilty about not keeping up with housework the way I used to. The internal conflict over whether to succumb to the guilt and drag myself through the motions of household duties, or to rebel against being labeled a slacker and do what I have to for the sake of my health, causes an increase in stress, which, in turn, causes an increase in pain. It’s a no-win situation.

Ignoring the criticism is hard to do when the words “lazy slob” are reflected in the eyes of those around me. I know I shouldn’t care what they think, and I’ve read enough about “invisible disabilities” to realize others really don’t and probably won’t understand. But, it’s so difficult to bear up under constant disapproval, along with constant pain.

It hurts me to admit that my daughters follow their father’s lead in this. To acknowledge the disabling effect the Fibromalgia has on me would be to admit that they need to pitch in and help more, something they apparently are not prepared to do. Co-workers and friends also seem to have a hard time understanding the extent to which my physical abilities are impaired because of this condition. Consequently, I usually try to keep the pain to myself, which contributes to my feelings of alienation.

Another thing that gives me reason to pause and reflect is the way I measure my value against other people’s attitudes towards me. Because of the disrespect and lack of support, encouragement, concern and compassion I have had to deal with over the years, I often find myself questioning my worthiness. Of course, intellectually, I know that is wrong, but it’s hard to keep a positive outlook when you are being battered emotionally. It would be nice to be built up once in a while instead of being knocked down all the time.

The following is from another old entry:

Not only have I failed to live up to the expectations of others (as they frequently and hurtfully remind me), but I have failed to live up to my OWN expectations, as well. I feel like I have failed to become the person I was meant to be. I got sidetracked by my obsession with ministering to the needs of other people.

The expectations of others are often unrealistic and unreasonable, and are based on THEIR ideals and THEIR needs, rather than mine. I am not responsible for anyone’s happiness but my own, and have done myself a great disservice by not realizing that until so late in life. However, it’s not too late, and I’m trying to work on that, I really am. Unfortunately, old habits die hard, and this is something I struggle with constantly.

This mission of mine to be all things to all people goes back to my childhood. I am the oldest of six children, and often took it upon myself to try to make things right for everyone else. My parents didn’t have a happy marriage, and voices raised in anger were not an uncommon sound in my childhood home. During particularly unpleasant fights, I would gather my siblings and retreat with them to another area of the house where we would listen to the shouting together. I guess I thought I could monitor the trauma, and somehow keep it in check. I would try to convince my brothers and sisters (and myself) that everything would be okay. Afterwards, I would make an attempt to console my mother, and occasionally, my father. It only occurred to me after I became an adult that no one had ever comforted ME. I was a CHILD, yet I shouldered the responsibility of being a peacemaker. I took on the burden of trying to orchestrate everyone else’s happiness, often at the expense of my own.

I carried that duty with me throughout my teenage years. In friendships, my role was that of “listener.” I don’t mind listening, and even consider that to be one of my better qualities. But, there were times when I needed to be heard, yet I wasn’t given the same consideration. People wanted my shoulder to cry on, but didn’t feel inclined to offer me theirs in return.

My marriage and employment history were more of the same. I was the one who always tried to rectify negative situations, and I continued to attach more importance to the needs of others than I did to my own. Of course, that is very unhealthy, and I found myself withdrawing more and more into what I called the seductive allure of the abyss. But, I had my daughters to consider, and they helped to keep me anchored. Naturally, I put their happiness before my own, but that’s par for the parenthood course, and I don’t harbor any resentment about placing my children’s needs first. Still, the role of nurturer DOES wear thin. Being made to feel responsible for the happiness of so many others can be overwhelming. Taking care of myself and my own needs far too frequently winds up on the back burner. I am low on my own list of priorities. How sad.

Being the person others depend on is not, however, without a positive side. It has strengthened my character, and made me more independent. But, sometimes I wonder if I’m TOO independent. It is difficult for me to accept help. I find myself keeping things to myself, and shutting people out, even when they make a genuine offer to lend me their ear. It’s hard to break the habit. It’s also difficult to break the pattern of being a doormat. Taking that final curtain call after starring in the role for so many years isn’t easy…

All of these things have contributed to me failing to live up to my potential, and not satisfying the expectations I had for myself. This explains to a certain degree why I feel that I turned into the wrong person. Of course, there’s more to it – a LOT more. I made poor choices. I often felt inhibited and trapped by what I considered my inadequacies. I made mistakes, and continue to make them.

It has been my experience that people don’t typically bother to pay close attention to the signals I send out. Instead of accepting me for who I am, they see me as the person they want me to be, and are then disappointed when I fail to meet their requirements. I need to stop worrying about trying to impress people, or live up to their Great Expectations.

Of course, there’s always room for improvement, but I resolve to try to be more forgiving and accepting of myself, and will make an effort to quit agonizing over fulfilling the needs of those who might find me lacking. I truly believe there’s still time for me to get back on track, and become the right person, the person I was meant to be.

That should give you a better idea of why I often feel the need to “justify.” Oh heck. Now I’m trying to justify my justifying! Argh! This is going to be harder than I thought…

Song of the Day: Old Habits Die Hard by Mick Jagger & Dave Stewart


One Response to “Justification Rehabilitation”

  1. yaketyyak said

    Comments from Diaryland:

    LA – 2006-03-19 09:44:35
    You’re welcome. Now fire that lame GP and get you some real help. Good luck with that and with getting off the justification chain gang. The latter is HARD, as I well know. Love, ~LA who doesn’t like soda bread either. Or sourdough, for that matter.
    Sasha – 2006-03-19 12:46:52
    I understand how GPs can get complacent, I worked in several doctor’s offices and a lot of the patients would come in with imaginary complaints because they wanted their “shot” (generally a narcotic). Yes, I’m serious! Still, becoming complacent is -not- acceptable and you have every right to demand more. Patients need to educate themselves and doctor’s need to stay aware and involved. I’m glad to see you feel inspired to seek out another physician. I hope you find someone who will treat you better.
    ann marie – 2006-03-19 14:17:05
    I can SO relate to your post! It’s like you were inside my head. I agree, corned beef is not my thing either, although we do have it at least once a year, but I don’t mind ham. I too, spent years putting others needs before my own. My life would entirely different if I hadn’t spent all that time putting my son’s and both my husband’s needs first. I still haven’t learned my lesson though. (sigh) One thing I have changed, though, is some of my doctors, and getting over the not mentioning or “having to justify” my medical issues. These changes have brought intervention, some relief, and a better understanding. I hope you find some relief with a more understanding PCP. {hugs}
    Texas Peach – 2006-03-19 20:10:06
    I don’t have medical things that I “justify” but I always feel the need to justify almost anything else I do in my life. I think it goes back to having to explain everything to my ex. Scott never asks for a reason why I did something or anything else..but I am always starting off with an explanation. I wish I could stop. I am glad you are trying a new doctor. Hopefully she will be more sympathetic and actually listen to what you have to say. *hugs*
    Bex – 2006-03-20 07:12:44
    Wow, your entry today was chock full of emotion and topics. Glad you will be switching PCPs. I also believe women pay more attention – and not just to medical problems but to everything in life (no offense guys). Remember, God made Adam first…then figured out what was wrong, and made woman second… after working out the flaws! Without getting into a long diatribe about philosophy of life, my short version is that whatever “stuff” you having going on in your life is so much easier to understand when you believe (as I do) that we are all here in this life experience just as we were meant to be. Everything in our lives has happened to us for a specific purpose, decided upon by our spirits before birth. So telling ourselves that we are on the wrong path does no good because it’s not true…we are on the pay that we, ourselves, have chosen to be on, for reasons that we may not know in THIS lifetime, but for reasons we will come to know when we change planes into the next one. Any let-up in the headache department, Steph?
    LA – 2006-03-22 09:01:38
    The emergency lipstick that lives in my purse is Revlon Super Lustrous, the color is #110 Blush Chrome. I loves me some drugstore lipstick. The 99 cent Wet-n-Wild ones have some decent color choices too. Current fave is #915. ~LA

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