“You deserve it,” he says. I’m awkwardly silent. I feel more curiosity than satisfaction.
Why do I deserve it? Would I be entitled to it even if I didn’t deserve it? Does it matter whether I deserve it? Other people deserve it, too, so why didn’t they get it? Am I somehow special?
My charmed life means I hear this phrase often, like the time I got Grigio, my little silver convertible. Why the declarations of my deservedness? Was it because I had the income to afford it? Or because I’d lived enough years to be worthy? I wasn’t sure.
When I fell into a state of mad happiness (which continues to this day) of being in love, people saw my bliss and said, “I’m glad for you. You deserve it.” Did I deserve to fall in love because my first marriage was a sad one? Because my second one left me a widow? It didn’t seem that being happily in love was something one earned.
“You deserve it” is also asserted when the dessert tray with tiramisu tempts me. I eat my greens and manage to fit into the same dress size year after year—surely I deserve this.
I may choose to decline it, but yes I deserve it. I deserve a hot fudge sundae and a new Fiat and a beloved who brings me my morning tea. I do. And you do. We all do. I’m not somehow special.
The question is not whether we deserve joy or peace of love in our life. We all deserve to have good health, loving relationships, and meaningful lives. The question is whether we can accept that we are.
If there’s credit to be given for the life I live today, I can take a tidbit. But also true is that grace has endlessly influenced my beautiful life far more than most who declare I deserve realize.
My mother deserved a happy love life, too. But her eighth grade education and eight children meant she would remain married in a lonely marriage most of her life. My brother Tim deserved good health, too. But AIDS took his life at 35. My sister deserves to see our city’s Christmas lights, but she lost her sight as a young woman. They deserved it all no less than me.
The next time I hear someone say, “You deserve it,” I can remember that whether waited for it, worked for it, or previously suffered without it, I still deserve it. Just like everyone else in the world. If it’s good for me, I’ll receive it. A “yes” to the love. A “maybe” to the new purchase. And when it comes to the tiramisu, perhaps I choose a decaf coffee with half and half. Unless it’s my birthday.
Can you accept that you deserve happiness?
Might the fact that you “deserve” something be irrelevant to your choosing it?
What do you declare you deserve and say “yes” to?