August 20, 2010
I had a geography teacher at secondary school who had this notice on the wall that read: compromise is the enemy of achievement.
You get a lot of jobs and businesses and products that say ‘we never compromise on the details / quality / dedication’ etc. but it’s funny because all those who say it expect you to be compliant and sedate in return for their guarantee.
We’re raised to be polite and make compromises as we make our way through life and I for one have seldom questioned why I do it, why I let other people get their way under the guise of ‘compromise’ when I’m not happy doing that.
Prime example: I was back in counselling, but now I’m not.
I made it very clear in my own mind when I started again that I’d not want weekly appointments because I need the space found in fortnightly appointments to deal with all the other rubbish that goes on in my life, such as the Mystery Illness that’s still undiagnosed after three years and still here. Plaguing me.
The doctor said that weekly sessions would benefit me better. Uhh… didn’t I just say they wouldn’t? And I’d know because I’d previously spent a few months in weekly psychotherapy sessions and found that after each fifty minute round I was exhausted, emotionally unstable and feeling worse than before I went in. And then I’d have to rinse and repeat the following week, spending the days in between dreading going back to that room and trying to control the anxiety attacks that resulted.
Weekly session are out of the question. I don’t care who you are. You could be Buddha and I’d tell you weekly sessions are not on the menu.
So what happened today is that I found myself under silent pressure to compromise and accept weekly appointments, even though this isn’t actually a compromise because I get nothing of what I want out of it. If I had accepted what was offered, that’d have been me doing as the good doctor said.
I plucked up the courage for once in my feeble life and clearly stated that I wasn’t going to do something I didn’t want to do and so, my counselling sessions ended before they’d even begun. I walked out of the hospital to find my Dad and ‘Square One’ waiting for me in the car.
My Dad was understandably dismayed that I had walked away from something that I’d been trying to arrange for the past few months but when I explained that I wasn’t going to do things I didn’t want to do any longer and was very unhappy that my rights as a patient – the rights to request another doctor, to arrange visits to a convenient health centre, to be given appointments that are suitable for my life and to seek second opinion – were being undermined – again – he understood where I was coming from and was very supportive.
I made the correct decision today and for once, I didn’t compromise and give up on what I knew with absolute certainty, was best for me. So why do I feel so terrible about it?
I think it’s this culture of ‘you should be grateful’ that I’ve come across before:
you should be grateful that you have these sessions; dozens of people are going without and waiting long periods of time for this
Yes, I’ll be grateful for a service that I’m very unhappy in. I’ll give regular thanks to the gods of guilt for it.
Sometimes it pays to be fussy. Why should I compromise on my health? Why should I sit in a room and divulge my darkest thoughts to a complete stranger who makes me feel like I need to go home and scrub my skin with Ajax?
At the very least, one of the poor souls who has been waiting decades to finally get some counselling will be able to have my slot. I hope they’re happier in it than I ever was.
If compromise is indeed the enemy of achievement, then what have I achieved in walking away? I’ve taken control of my life for the first time in years. I’ve given myself the strength to clearly and firmly say ‘no’ without curling up into a ball and crying or exploding with rage. If I’d have compromised, I would not be sitting here telling you that I’m a better person for being able to stand up for myself and confidently make my own choices.
So what happens now that I’ve ditched that avenue of exploration? As Matt Bellamy says in Muscle Museum:
And I’ll do it on my own…
with a pen in my hand.