We have all experienced it. We have all had to deal with it. Making sacrifices is a big part of life, of anyone’s life. For some, it may be a bigger part than for others, or it may have more meaning than for others.
While I went for a walk today, I was philosophizing about life, and what came to mind first and foremost was about making sacrifices. I looked back through memories and experiences throughout my life, and recognized a pattern of sacrifice in my life. Sacrifice has been a huge part of my life, and I have actually experienced many patterns of sacrifice, some that have involved many years of sacrifice.
I guess, from as early as I can remember, looking back, some of the first sacrifices I had to make and was forced to make were for and by my mom. I love my mom, and God rest her soul, she passed nearly five years ago already, though all throughout my childhood, I made sacrifices of my “self” for her feelings, wants, and needs. I often felt like I was just “there,” and not allowed to ever truly “be myself.”
Of course, there are many very personal reasons for this that I will not describe here, however my entire childhood was a sacrifice of my own feelings, needs, and wants to my mother. That is how my brother and I lived, growing up in our home. That was “normal” in our household, however dysfunctional it was. I never really realized how dysfunctional it really was to me, personally, until I was well into my adult years. I later recognized it the most since I ultimately married and was divorced from a spouse who has a personality similar to my mom.
In growing up, I dysfunctionally-learned that I was supposed to and expected to sacrifice my feelings and needs to others. This was expected in my home. My parents’ needs came first, especially mom’s. My brother and I were seen and not heard. We had no voice – ever, for anything, no matter what happened – no voice. I think this is much of the reason that I use my voice today, since I was never allowed to have or use my voice as a child or youth. I had to be perfect, and I could never be perfect enough. I could never do enough for others. I could never be “good” enough. No matter how much or how hard I tried, it was never enough.
By the time I was about 25, I realized that I was so tired, exhausted, and drained that I could not continue “doing” for everyone else except myself. I finally started saying “no” to people for things they wanted. It was liberating! I had always been over-extended before, and never had time or energy left for myself after doing so much for others. On one occasion of saying “no” to a friend for something she wanted, she turned to another friend in my presence and asked her for the same thing. It was at that moment that I realized it was just fine to say “no” to people – because they will find someone else to ask. The world will not end just because I said “no” to someone!
I am skipping some periods of time, post-marriage and post-divorce, to being a single parent for more than the past 15 years. I will say it again as I’ve stated before, it is so important to marry someone that you are truly compatible with and with whom there is true mutual love. At my age, it is not pleasant to have to look back and realize that you have not truly ever experienced that in a long-term relationship. It is extremely painful, disheartening, and discouraging to realize that.
That said, I had to make decisions about particular challenges and sacrifices for the benefit of my son when I became a single parent. One of those decisions when my son became a bit older was for him to be schooled through online, virtual school at home. The home that he and I lived in was with my parents after my divorce. Therefore, I made the choice and the sacrifice that I would do my best to “be there” for my son and be responsible for him while at home. That meant being at home as much as possible for him, and again, there are other highly personal reasons for that due to my mom and her behavior.
And so now, looking back and looking upon the sacrifices I have made, whether I have wanted to or not, and whether I was forced to or it was voluntary, I wonder what and how many other sacrifices I will have to make in my life. I am currently in the midst of making a choice of sacrifice in order to repay my student loan. It is a big sacrifice and one that I do not necessarily want to make, but one that I need to make, while I still can, so my son is not someday saddled with my debt. It is something that needs to be done, and I know of no other “best” way to do so other than the way that I have selected. I am doing my best to put it in God’s hands.
And speaking of God, of course I remember the sacrifices He made for us. I know of the sacrifice of pain, suffering, and death that He took for me so that I may have eternal life. That is the ultimate sacrifice. Thankfully, I do not need to and will not have to sacrifice my life for anything. And, I have processed and “recovered” through prior feelings of Catholic guilt that I had in the past for not necessarily doing what the Church may have “expected” of me; I have learned that it is better to accept, forgive, love, and “be” myself than to feel “guilt” for what and who I am not.
At any rate, I still wonder how much more I will have to sacrifice in my life. I have also shared before that I am not a “lucky” person. I am generally someone who always has to pay for something in some way or another. I generally always have to give more than what is needed or expected. I often have to “give” more than what I receive in return, and even then, things often don’t turn out as planned or expected.
Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful and grateful for all of the good and wonderful things that I have experienced in my life. However, I wonder when it will be my turn to have a good relationship with a compatible and loving partner; I wonder when I will have some “luck;” I wonder how many more sacrifices I will still have to make in my life. And, I wonder if I will have any hope left after all that if I have sacrificed so much that there is nothing left. Maybe I shouldn’t ask because I may not want to know. Thankfully, there’s still a long way to go and only time will tell.