A very, very long time ago I made a hugely big-girl decision and put myself on birth control.
I did it even though I was married and he didn’t like it.
I did it even though I was a “natural family planner.”
I did it even though (according to religious doctrine) it was a no no to prevent conception, even though it supposed to be a mutual decision, even though I was supposed to be submissive to my husband’s direction, even though I had more or less committed to having four kids and not just three.
I did it without anyone else’s permission, without anyone else’s input, and without anyone else’s blessing.
Even though I never thought I’d be on birth control again after I stopped to have my first baby, even though I knew for sure I wanted more kids, I did it anyways.
I remember the day I made the decision. I was nervous, excited, kind of sad. I remember the rush of adrenaline that came with putting my foot down, and how much stronger I felt to take responsibility for my sexual identity and reproductive system.
I remember feeling sad, a little, that my body had to be “taken back” from the role of wife-mother-child-bearer, like the name tag I had worn on my chest for so long needed to be changed from all those other things to “Just Erin,” but I ALSO remember how right it felt to have a grain of control over my life and my body.
For the first time ever, on that day I took OWNERSHIP of myself, my destiny, and the trajectory of my life.
For the first time ever, I did something just for me.
My body, my rules, my life.
Sounds selfish, right?
I think women in particular are given a hard time when they choose to live under such a mantra. After making the choice I made about birth control, I heard from some (supposed to be) close family and friends, “You’re not a very nice person, how selfish can you be, don’t you think of other people, you just want to have your own way, you try to be in control of everything, you’re so selfish.”
At the time, having been the first act of self and independence, I felt bad. “Maybe they’re right, I should feel bad. I didn’t do this for anyone else, I AM selfish.”
NOW, though. Now I reply differently.
“I am nice. I love everyone, and YES. Yes, absolutely I am selfish.”
When it comes to me and my life and those I care about, I am absolutely selfish.
As women, caretakers, givers, lovers, and the center of our own little world we call “home,” we should be selfish.
We need to be selfish.
When it comes to our lives and the path we choose to take, we need to be selfish. We need to be on the path we’re on because we CHOOSE to be there, not because we’re guilted or shamed into doing it. We should understand that we are 100% in charge of our lives, and the outcome of anything we do is our own responsibility.
Because really… what right do we have to be bitter and miserable about the outcome of our lives when we refuse to accept the responsibility we have in it? That’s like telling someone else “Hey, pick me something to eat, anything, just YOU choose,” and then being pissed at them that they chose wrong. “I don’t like mushrooms, asshole, and this is full of mushrooms.” You didn’t SAY “not mushrooms.” You just said “you choose,” and then you shut your mouth and trusted.
Trusting is okay, but being responsible for your own preference is better.
If you don’t speak up about what you want, if you don’t choose FOR YOURSELF, you’re stuck with what you get.
Your sexuality. Your reproductive organs. The state of your current relationship, the culture of your home. The way you’re treated at work, the way you are spoken to by your children and your spouse. The clothes you wear, the car you drive. The amount of money you make, the education you’ve received.
Are you happy with what you’ve got?
We have had it beaten into our heads as women and Christians that “you are built to do for others, doing for YOU is wrong. “Selfish” is wrong.”” Women of my generation are caught in perpetual suspension between feminism and conservative roles of women, where on one side of the fence you’re weak and on the other side you’re a selfish bitch.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
I personally am “on the fence.” To many it seems I sit perched with picket planks up my ass, one leg in each yard, appearing completely bullheaded to some and worthlessly weak to others.
The reality is, though, the fence I sit on is not really a fence. The fence I live on between the yards of “selfish” and “weak” is not a fence, it’s a whole different yard. There is no fence post jabbing me in the rear, there is only a meadow. A meadow full of broad, open, sweeping, flowery, grassy freedom where women can be giving and selfish and strong and vulnerable and independent and servants to those they love, ALL AT THE SAME TIME.
Giving AND selfish, at the same time. Because we need both.
We as women are our own worst critics. We live behind a wall of fear, locked inside our cages, afraid to step out and say “THIS IS WHAT I WANT.” Why do we do that? Why do we hide inside the expectations we assume others have for us?
How different would it be if we spoke out, spoke up, and demanded from ourselves and for ourselves what our hearts and lives needed?
How different would your life be if you were just a little bit more selfish, in all the right ways?
The first thing I did when I embraced my righteous selfishness was put myself on birth control.
The second thing I did was pee with the door shut, and all by myself.
( …prison pee, where you push as hard as you can to make it fast, but still. I PEED WITH THE DOOR SHUT. Moms of three-very-small-kids-at-one-time understand what a big deal that is.)
I am not condoning that we all discard our obligations and responsibilities to “get ours.” I’m not suggesting that our duties as wives and mothers should take a back seat to “me time,” or going out with the girls, or feeding destructive or addictive behavior.
I AM suggesting that we refrain from thinking of “selfish” as a dirty, four-letter word, and that we find a way to claim for ourselves what our hearts need. I’m suggesting that fulfilling the basic needs of autonomy, connection, or growth for ourselves is RIGHTEOUS, and justified, and vital to finding fulfillment.
I am important, too, and I had to learn that in order to get out of this very short, very valuable life what I wanted to have, I had to stand up, speak out, and be counted.
YOU are important, and what you need and how you feel are just as important as those needs and feelings of those you love. You have permission to choose for yourself, you have the right to be happy.
You are WORTH joy.
And so now I ask… What do YOU want? What would make you happy?
I am so excited for you to figure that out, because once you do we can absolutely make it happen.
Join me on my new website, www.erinlaurvick.com. Blog posts and materials and webinars will be available to help you Forge Depth with yourself and those you love.
Change yourself and change the whole world. Opt in and be notified at the launch. See you there!