According to the Cambridge Dictionary, a Martyr can be defined as;
noun [ C ]
UK /ˈmɑː.tər/ US /ˈmɑːr.t̬ɚ/
Martyrmum able to guilt families into doing house work with her supersonic sigh.
Martyrmum says yes, then makes you pay for it all day, with her laser beam gaze.
Martyrmum unselfishly puts herself last in all situations, then uses supernatural sulking to communicate how she feels about that.
Martrymum, able to manipulate small children into doing activities they hate, with telekinesis.
I know Martyrmum well. In fact, you might be able to tell by the wonderful *ahem* drawing above, that I have fashioned her off myself . For I am a recovering Martyrmum.
I spent many years of home education, and indeed parenting playing the Cambridge dictionary’s second definition of a Martyr. Trying to be all things to all people, both in and outside of the home. I found it very hard to say no to things, I tried to go above and beyond in what I expected of myself, and I often then made other people feel responsible for the boundaries, I refused to set for myself.
But something has changed along the way. I have learnt that I can not be all things to all people, and making people feel responsible for the areas I am struggling with, dis-empowers me.
There is a false economy in being Martyrmum (or Martyrdad- and it can equally apply to him too). I felt like I had power, because I was able to affect the atmosphere around me, using a form of emotional manipulation on those I love. It was brilliant because there was no need to identify what I was feeling, try to communicate that effectively, or be responsible for my own actions and needs. I just used one of my Martyrmum superpowers.
Until it wasn’t brilliant anymore and I began to see the damage that Martyrmum was causing. Sure her intentions where often good, she wanted to clean up the world, or achieve great things and be all things to all people. But the way she (I) went about it, was not loving and kind, nor authentic.
It left me feeling hollow, weak and at the mercy of the world around me. I had made the world responsible for my happiness, so therefore when I wasn’t happy I became a victim of the world.
It has been hard going, but I have learnt to take back some of my destructive power, and channel it for good. Learning to ask for what I want and need has been a big one. Rather than making people around me guess what it is that would make my life easier I am trying to identify it for myself, and find the words to express what I am feeling. I believe this has made me more resilient, and has certainly made me feel stronger inside.
Sunday night, I had to say no to a family outing. My husband had organised a family night out after a weekend of renovation jobs around the house. He wanted to go bowling and eat at a noisy local shopping mall.
This was the last thing I needed. I had spent close to ten hours in noisy overstimulating environments like children’s play centres, leisure centres and trampolining places that past week. I was on stimulation overload, full to the brim with jangley nerves and buzzing in my head. What I needed, was to detox from lights and noise.
It was a big thing to say I was going to skip it. We haven’t done very much as a family recently, and I could have allowed mother-guilt to rule that decision. And I know if I had, I would have been miserable and I would have run the risk of Martyrmum making an appearance. What I needed was a calm soothing environment, to try to regather my internal resources for the week ahead.
I stayed home, had a shower, put my pj’s on, ordered a take away, made a gin and chilled with a favourite show I had wanted to catch up on.
It was bliss.
I was ready to face Monday morning, which makes me a better parent.
Perhaps more importantly I had kept my self-respect. I had identified what I needed, communicated it, and made myself responsible for getting it.
I like those superpowers much better.