The #1 thing I learned from Pneumonia

In my mind this was going to be a funny post with all the hilarity that a serious illness can engender. Something like what Julie would be capable of doing, something biting and acerbic and funny as hell, with a lovely little lesson woven in there somewhere.

But I'm sorry. I just don't have my funny back on. So all you get is #1.

The #1 Thing I Learned From Pneumonia is....

That I derive all my self worth from what I can do for people.

Which means, of course, that I don't feel that I have any intrinsic value. I'm only as good as my use. Normally this isn't much of a problem. It keeps me busy, proving my value; it makes our weekends jam-packed full of activity. It makes me popular with hostesses; if I'm at a party I'm always the guest that's doing dishes, serving food, cleaning up, refreshing drinks, etc... I have a wide range of skills, and I am capable of getting a great deal done. I'm a handy person to have around. People like me. I feel like I deserve my partner's love.

But then, suddenly, I'm sick. And I keep doing things to maintain my sense of place and value... and then I push myself too far and get sicker. And suddenly I can do nothing.

Where does that leave me?

That leaves me wandering around the store in search of pecan pie while my prescriptions fill, wondering how quickly we could sell our house, and if the equity would be enough to set Kristin and Julia up in a nice condo or something (I, of course, worthless creature that I am, would just go move into my parents' basement) with some money left over for some vacations to celebrate the fact that she's just been severed of such a very great Dead Weight that has been dragging her down for much too long.

Ok, so it sounds ridiculous here. But at the time? At the time it felt like the right thing to do. The noble thing. Free her from the uselessness that is me. I have nothing to offer. I am empty.

Obviously, this is a problem. I don't judge people's worth by what they can do for me, why do I judge myself this way? And, more importantly, how do I stop? Anybody have any stories? Roadsigns?

Because my biggest concern right now is that I don't want Julia modeling this behavior. And I truly believe that the best way to parent is to lead by example. And if I can't do that, well then...

Aw CRAP! You see how pernicious this way of thinking is?

Posted by Trista @ 7:57 AM

Read or Post a Comment

Well, figuring out you think that way is a huge step. It takes a lot longer to get over thinking that way, but it can be done. You've got lots of people around you who love you, and who I'm sure will do what they can to remind you of the fact that you are of worth just because you are. Whether you will eventually come to believe that is up to you. I think you will, and I hope that you enjoy the journey!

Posted by Blogger Faith @ 9:59 AM #

I so get this way of thinking. It is the burden of the DOER type. We start to think that if we suddenly stop being able to do that noone will appreciate us. Oddly enough- usually the opposite happens.

While I was away last week nothing got done. The house didn't get cleaned, home made meals were not prepared and laundry was not attempted. I was clearly missed and needed and being needed felt damn good.

Soon you will be feeling more like yourself and back into DO-ing. I am certain that Julia & K miss the 100% you and that they could not carry on without all of the fabulous things that you do and are.

Posted by Blogger Calliope @ 11:07 AM #

You're also useful for generating empathy and smiles via your blog. If you give up blogging, you'll be useless to me.

That was irony, by the way.

I have no insight to offer, really. I derive all of my self worth from sharing insight (whether it's real or not and whether people want it or not), so having no insight to offer here a) is kind of funny and b) really sucks and c) makes me uncomfortable about the possibility that I may not be joking (am I joking? any insight on that?)

Just feel better, Trista.

Posted by Blogger zilla @ 11:37 AM #

Trista, i hate that you're having these feelings. i know the good thing is that you DO have those people who love you so much that will eventually snap you out of it.

i don't have any great advice myself, but i really do hope that you get to feeling 100% better soon.

Posted by Blogger Amanda @ 3:04 PM #

I second Faith. As G.I. Joe always said, "Knowing is half the battle!"

Self worth is a strange creature in our society. We get a lot of messed-up messages from the media, from our elders, pretty much from everywhere, from a very early age. We've got to examine these sources very closely and take whatever steps are needed to counteract their impact on how we treat ourselves, so as not to pass them on to our kids. How to do that - I'm still figuring it out. So far, this is what works for me: surround yourself with people who love you for a variety of reasons and who are not afraid to tell you, every day, what they love about you. Try to sink into a deeper self-awareness every day. I have had a lot of self-changing success through something they taught us in some stupid junior high workshop we had to take - it's totally corny, but I sometimes just have to look in the mirror and tell myself what I need to hear, over and over. Minds are weak little things and you can convince them of pretty much anything, if you know the right channels.

That's my two cents. I think you're fabulous.


Posted by Blogger Blue @ 5:00 PM #

Hey, Trista--Faith's sister again. I completely understand this way of thinking, especially given how very sick you are right now. It's worse when you feel physically unable to do the simplest tasks. Even the most determined optimist would view the world through a 3 o'clock in the morning lens. It's filtered and skewed because you aren't really you right now, physically or emotionally.

Your worth has less to do with what you do and more with what kind of heart you have. I know that sounds trite, but I'm not a good enough writer to express it better. Even if I knew nothing about you except what my sister tells me (she thinks you are splendid), that's all I'd need to know.

It doesn't matter if your dishes are undone, or even if, this time, you're the one receiving instead of giving. It is clear to me you are loved and valued by others because of who you are, not what you do.

Posted by Blogger Izzybella @ 9:28 AM #
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