March 13, 2007

What I Deserve

Posted in emotional healing, entitlement, fur, vegan at 2:25 pm by nevavegan

Yes, this about veganism too.

All too often when I’ve tried to talk to people about wearing fur, and the cruelty involved in producing fur, I’ve heard “I’ve had a really hard life, so I deserve this fur coat.”

It’s really hard to look at someone, and listen to their hard luck stories and still say “No, you don’t deserve this.” Of course to me, it’s not really about deserving anything. People deserve to feel good about themselves, they deserve to be happy, they deserve to have some clothing they like. But that really has nothing to do with the horrors of the fur industry; in that case the animals deserve better.

But the question of deserving and entitlement run very deep in my psyche. I was raised with some soul-killing guilt and shame heaped on me. Guilt for being my own person even, for having my own thoughts or desires. Things have been rough at times, and I deserve more than this.

Still, I’m a slow learner at times so I tend to have these mouth-agape, pick my jaw up off the floor moments of realization. One such moment came when I was sitting in the therapist’s office describing how my mother essentially ruined my sister’s birthday and the party we’d planned was cancelled, and my sister nearly went off the deep end, running away screaming and crying. And I told this entire story, and the therapist asked some questions, and I did what I almost always did which was to launch into my litany of excuses. My mother is old, my mother is very sick, she has this health problem and that health problem. She calls me non-stop to tell me how much pain she’s in, all the medications she’s on and their side effects, how she can’t sleep, she’s having palpitations and so on and so on.

The therapist looked at me and said “All that may be true, but you need to realize that being sick doesn’t entitle someone to mistreat others. People can hurt without trying to hurt others. We can excuse an occassional slip up, everyone gets cranky. But just because someone is sick doesn’t give that person permission to terrorize and bully everyone else.”

Hello Jaw, meet floor.

I mean, I always knew this. I often don’t feel well, and while I do have my less than stellar moments of behavior, I never felt I could just trample over everyone in my path because I’m in pain. I never felt that having been abused myself gave me the right to abuse others. But I have this deeply entrenched excuse-making habit. For G__’s sake, I never reported or filed charges against the guy who attacked me because he told me he’d been molested as a kid and I felt so sorry for him. Yeah, it’s pretty pathological, huh?

While I would never put wearing fur in the same category with abusing other people (if for no other reason than wearing fur is condoned in our society, so many people just don’t get that there’s an issue with it), I do think there’s something applicable here. We can feel great sympathy for someone who has been through rough times, but that doesn’t really absolve them of living up to their own morals. I do think that if someone is saying “I’ve had it rough; I deserve this” then on some level they know there’s cruelty involved in producing fur. The person who isn’t aware is going to say “Huh? What are you talking about?”

But here are some thoughts on what all of us deserve. We all deserve to know that we are beautiful in all our many shapes, sizes, colors, or whatever, and that this beauty radiates from within us and is not enhanced by wearing expensive clothes (fur or not). We all deserve to love, and to know that we cannot accept the love offered to us until we love ourselves. We all deserve to be honest with ourselves, like a loyal and candid friend, who will call us on our b—sh–, but forgive us for it at the same time. We all deserve to continue to learn and grow everyday, but without growth there’s only death. None of these things we deserve can be bought at a store, but they are much more valuable.

Of course you also deserve that perfect outfit that flatters you perfectly, you know, so long as it’s vegan.

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