Life Lessons: Table scraps and left overs

I’ve given lip service for a long time that what I need and want matters.

That I matter.

Often I’d pronounce what I want or need and then look around slyly for permission or approval. Then I would feel shame for acting on what I need or want if it made other people uncomfortable in any way. Or, as often happens, I let them shame or ridicule me into submission.

Over a period of time, years, decades or lifetimes you start to think it is normal. You start to believe what you need doesn’t matter. You start to believe what you want doesn’t matter.

And in the end, if what you want and need doesn’t matter then you believe you don’t matter either. You believe you are invisible. You live fractured and hide. You lose your voice and ignore your vision. You end up alone in a room full of friends. So you settle for surviving instead of living.

The Family Trap

Of course, there are workarounds to this situation such as dishonesty, passive aggressiveness, manipulation and rebellion but these are all emotionally and spiritually unhealthy options. Eventually acting on these options lead to numbing depression or fits of rage…or both. Among other things the result is lost friendships and missed opportunities.

Maybe missed friendships and lost opportunities.

There are lots of reasons this happens. Child abuse, alcoholism or drug addiction, sex abuse or simply immaturity. However, as an adult I realize understanding is overrated. The why isn’t important. It simply is.

As such, I’ve been talking to people lately about the idea that their vision matters. Their needs and wants matter. They matter.

What it has highlighted for me is how little value I place on my own needs and wants. How little I believe in my vision. Surrounded by critics I forgot my importance and salivate for whatever scraps that come my way. It is the result of a lifetime of training to be the Hero and my deep feelings of inadequacy to the task.

I’m at a new jumping off point in life. Maybe it is my age. My place in life. The health decline of my parents. The loss of important relationships. Not having children. The change in my finances. The death of my grandfather.

I don’t know.

What I do know is I’ve jumped.


  1. Thanks for writing this Sean. I focus on supporting others and while that’s great, I tend to sacrifice what I want and need. I convince myself I’m being selfish and it’s best for everyone else if I refrain from doing what I want. I’m glad you’re taking this step!


    1. Hi Gerry.

      It is hard.

      It came to a head when I realized I tend to define my value based on other people’s happiness or opinions. For example, I have someone in my life that I love tell me: “You are a really great writer but no one will ever pay for it. It isn’t commercial enough.”

      It is easy to ignore comments when it comes from a stranger but it is almost impossible to ignore when it comes from a lover and someone you admire. So I stopped writing, or if I did write, I stopped sharing it with her.

      It has taken me a long time to embrace the truth that I am not writing for an audience but rather I write for me. If someone else comments, appreciates or relates to my writing it is a bonus. It is never the goal.

      I had a man I’ve known for 15 years as a friend stop talking to me because he was angry about over my opinion about the role of lawyers, investors and MBAs in destroying this economy. I didn’t write it for him. I wrote it for me out of my anger and frustration with Wall Street.

      It is what it is. I am what I am. Sometimes I am a hypocrite, liar, cheat, selfish and sarcastic prick. Sometimes I’m a warm hearted, cheerful, impish, honest man. Like most people, on most days, I am usually somewhere inbetween.

      Just some sins are better hidden than others. I’ve decided to document mine. My opinion is I’m only as sick as my secrets and I have very few secrets left to hide.

      I’m glad you are here Gerry.


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