Who can guess what a person with this schema does? If you said ‘played the martyr!’ you’d have it right. People with this schema sacrifice their own needs to the point of excess in order to help others. When these people pay attention to their own needs, they often feel guilty. To avoid this guilt, they put others’ needs ahead of their own. Often people who self sacrifice gain a feeling of increased self-esteem or a sense of meaning from helping others. In childhood the person may have been made to feel overly responsible for the well being of one or both parents.
This schema definitely hits a chord with me, I distinctly remember there being times when I was growing up that my dad expected me to care for him. He had open heart surgery when I was 13 and left me in charge. On my own and no instructions for the nurse to help me manage his care. I had my brother there of course, but he was 11, and he couldn’t seeing Daddy so sick. I always had to worry about him and his needs, in addition to the needs of the house. I couldn’t do it, I wasn’t perfect enough. I fled to my mum’s house shortly after I turned 14, to a situation that wasn’t much better.
Instead of having a daddy to take care of, I suddenly had 3 new step siblings and a step dad, and I became mum’s confidante. Looking back, both of them forced me to grow up, I wonder which would have done me the greater good ultimately? At least if I’d stayed in NC I’d have learned how to cook and clean, skills which I definitely need now, but what kind of childhood is that? Growing up here I was the red-headed step child, but it meant some kind of ‘typical’ childhood.
I made my bed, I stayed here and I had to lie in it.
I got pregnant at 17 and received enormous pressure to give her up for adoption, but I was keeping my child, come hell or high water. Here is where the mistakes of the fathers become the mistakes of the children and it’s painful to watch, I screwed my kid up. In so many ways. Ways my mother did that I swore I would never repeat. This precious bundle of joy was my life, my soul, my very reason for being. I couldn’t do enough for her because I felt no one had ever done enough for me, she would never suffer that same disappointment, But I had no real world experience for ‘what is best for a child’. I consistently put her needs ahead of my own to the point where I ultimately had a breakdown and spent 6 weeks in the hospital. Having always been a single mum, and it just the two of us she had no routine, she had no bed time, and as she got older it became more and more manipulative my child was becoming, Thank goodness I met my husband and we had kids too because we were able to reverse a lot of the damage I’d done to Adia by the time she was 10,
Now that I’m the mother, I still struggle in this schema bt making sure my children’s needs are met long before I’ll even contemplate meeting my own. I mean right now for example, I have a coupon for free glitter toes that I would love to redeem, and I’d love to get my hair done, but I’m not about the waste the money or time on making me look nice. My kids clothes come from Wal-Mart and the Mall, Mine come from Goodwill. It’s lead to fights before because my husband isn’t putting these restraints on my spending, I am. I’m too afraid to spend because what if someone else needs it more than I do and its gone?
This isn’t really a schema I’m ready to fully deal with right now. I think I’ll always have some self-sacrificing traits in me until the day I die. I think every mother does. But I’ll leave you with this question, “If the airplane is going down, who’s mask do you put on first; theirs or yours? Yours of course because you are of no good to them if you pass out and can’t get your children’s masks on. So try and keep your mask on. If your mask is on, and you’re breathing, everything else will naturally fall into place.
Did I learn anything about myself completing this assignment? I think I did. I learned that I’ve got to keep my cup full before I can truly be there for someone else, even my children. Did you learn anything new today about yourself upon introspection?
Let me know in the comments below!