Don’t pick the broken one

I’ve written about an issue of mine dating back to childhood, related to what I deserve, or more pointedly what I believe I deserve.  I’ve gotten into this before, as I say, and I’m not going to totally rehash it now but the gist of it is I’ve been really thinking hard for many years about this issue – what do I deserve – and trying to correct its negative effects in my life.

I have not always thought I deserved a lot, or even much at all, in several areas of my life. It’s not a happy thing to discover this about one’s self let alone admit it, but as with other topics, I’m more inclined to share AFTER I’ve figured a bunch of stuff out. I need to process things alone.

In a book by Dr. Phil McGraw, aka Dr. Phil, whose title I don’t remember but would find if anyone is desperate to know it, he writes about choosing someone to be in your life, and says words to the effect that the first rule of choosing anything is don’t pick the broken one. That’s obvious right? Most of us would understand that as a reasonable truism. But the reality is, especially for women, that a lot of us DO pick the broken one, especially when it comes to choosing a person to be in our life.

Until I read it put that way, so directly with no namby-pambying around, I would never have thought about it in such hard terms. Lots and lots of people are broken in some way. Many women don’t think they deserve better and/or think they’re going to fix the broken person. Haha! I am in a position to scoff, having finally learned that no one “fixes” another adult. Love is NOT a cureall. Certainly not for major personality or character disorders in other people.😐

Let’s shift gears and look at this another way. The (semi) autobiographical movie, The Homecoming ( pre-cursor to the TV show The Waltons), Earl Hamner’s tale set at Christmas in depression-era rural Virginia, features a scene that had an impact on me. The many kids in the big family have gone to a church where missionaries are giving out presents. The youngest girl is delighted to get a gift, a wrapped baby doll. However, the doll’s face has a big crack in it, and the kids are disgusted and leave, dropping the doll on the ground as they do so. See, in the same position I would not have abandoned that doll. Oh no. I would have taken it home and kept it. Maybe I would have tried to use glue or tape to fix the crack. Whatever. It would not have occurred to me to throw it away nor would I have thought I was allowed to toss it out. A doll is a doll I would have thought, a gift a gift, even it’s a bit messed up.😕

I have a long history of trying to “make things work” no matter how shabby or defunct or defective or pitiful. I know where this comes from and the more important thing now, at this point in life, is simply recognizing it. Nobody but me will ever set the standard for what I deserve, for what is good enough and what is not, be it in things or situations or in people.

For instance when I meet someone now, man or woman, and they seem a bit messed up? I can be civil, even somewhat friendly, but there is no welcome mat into my larger life. You got yourself “a little drinking problem”? You lose your temper on a regular basis? You lie or obscure the truth? You have lots of legal troubles? Not for me.

I shop regularly on Amazon for many things and it’s really in the last couple years that I’ve gotten more into it. It may seem odd but it’s actually the impetus for this post. Now with the pandemic it’s been all the more important since I’m staying out of stores. Anyway, Amazon has been a training ground for me in terms of forcing me to confront what I think I deserve. I regularly send things back or ask for a refund for anything substandard. The “old me” wouldn’t have or not nearly as much. I would have “made it work” or settled for less than I expected. And this is a little embarassing, but I’d have done that so I didn’t bother them.😢 Or annoy them. Yep bother or annoy AMAZON. Sad but true. However, each time they sent me crap, crap I considered keeping, I gave myself a little talk. Would you select this pair of shoes that are scuffed up if you saw them on a shelf? Would you take this browning head of lettuce home from a grocery store? Would you be willing to re-glue a brand new pair of earrings? Why should you do any of these things and many others? (Note that as someone who routinely finds stuff others have cast off & takes them home to fix up, I’m not talking about that at all, which I do willingly and enjoy.)

I have felt like I’ve been tested. Tested & tested. You may have heard the idea that anytime you make an important or momentous decision about implementing a change, the universe will test you to see if you mean it. I do think I’ve had many opportunities to examine and investigate what I deserve in a variety of scenarios, perhaps a few more than was called for! Still, until it’s not even something I (have to) think about, I expect I’ll be challenged. IT HAS GOTTEN EASIER. Which tells me real progress has been made.

17 thoughts on “Don’t pick the broken one

  1. JT Twissel

    I learned the hard way not to pick something (someone) I think I can fix. Of course, often something with an imperfection can also be beautiful. So depends on what is meant by broken.

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    1. Colette Post author

      Yes, the “fixing” business has low returns! Imperfections are a given, though, in people especially. Fatal flaws – in cars, houses, people, food, anything – not so good.

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  2. Pistachios

    I’m sort of like (past) you in the sense that I don’t tend to ask for refunds/replacements, mostly so that I don’t inconvenience the vendor. Since I don’t buy online much, I don’t tend to have problems with things I buy because I inspect them in-store. However, even when I dine at restaurants, and the meat is over-cooked, or there’s a bone in the fish, as long as it still tastes ok, I’ll eat it without complaint. I think I tend to keep in mind the work that has gone into something, and whether the flaw can be attributed to human error or random chance, etc.

    As for people… the saying “Not my circus, not my monkeys” comes to mind. Usually I’m an instinctive helper, but I’m learning that I can’t (and shouldn’t try to) help everyone.

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    1. Colette Post author

      We definitely share what I call the “Nice Girl Syndrome”, never wanting to bother or inconvenience anyone. Sometimes I have to remind myself that being of service is the other person’s job. I remind myself too that in my own work I am of service to people (just like you are in yours) so it’s okay to let other people be or even to “demand” they be when it’s called for. I don’t know about you but I get annoyed with myself if I let too much slide by, mainly because the confrontations or challenges make me uncomfortable. Restaurants are tricky because you only get to talk to the middle man!

      I’ve been experimenting a bit with limited helping, kind of deciding in advance how far I’ll go so I don’t get over-involved or feel overly responsible. (I first heard “not my circus…” on the show Orange is the New Black – love that phrase!)😊

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      1. Pistachios

        I take it on a case-by-case basis, but I also don’t like confrontation, so I’m willing to bet I let things slide more often than not. Still, I don’t think there’s any cumulative effect, or maybe it doesn’t happen often enough to really impact me.

        But having said that… For some time now, I’ve become more aware of when I apologise (unnecessarily) for something – that was something that bothered me after reading that women apologise a lot when they don’t need to. I expect I’ll now become more aware of how much I allow myself to accept too. Self-reflection is a continuous process!

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        1. Colette Post author

          Self-reflection is a part time job!😊 I read that about women apologizing too much a long time ago too. We women apologize to inanimate objects even! I DO still say “I’m sorry” quickly & easily to people; however, I’ve made a real point of not saying sorry when I don’t mean it, whether in person or in writing. It’s such an easy thing to add w/o thinking but I think it can send the wrong message (and undermine your point) if it isn’t really true. Thanks as always for your thoughtful input.

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  3. Ally Bean

    I’ve never heard that Dr. Phil saying, but I get the truth of it. It takes time to realize and analyze your own behavior patterns, then correct them if warranted. I often remind myself that when the time is right the teacher will come. The time was right, but how amazing that it was Amazon that turned out to be your teacher! Intriguing story.

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    1. Colette Post author

      You’re right Ally. I’m being schooled by Amazon (they just don’t know it!). I like that idea about teachers coming too; we imagine them one way but invariably they show up in another form. You don’t always know you’re being taught till after the fact. I never heard Dr Phil say that either but it sure leaped off the page at me in his book. I know damn well HE would never settle for substandard anything!😊

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