I Bargained with Life for a Penny
I bargained with Life for a penny,
And Life would pay no more,
However I begged at evening
When I counted my scanty store;
For Life is a just employer,
He gives you what you ask,
But once you have set the wages,
Why, you must bear the task.
I worked for a menial’s hire,
Only to learn, dismayed,
That any wage I had asked of Life,
Life would have paid.
~Jessie Belle Rittenhouse (1869–1948)
When I first read this poem, I realized that not only did it describe my life in general up to that point, but especially my marriage to a Narcissist. I spent a whole day reflecting on its words when it finally came to me…
What I got from the Narcissist was what I’d bargained for…
Not to say I deserved the abuse. No one deserves that. But, the reality is that I did enable him to continue his unacceptable behaviors. I bargained for a penny when I accepted crumbs from the relationship. I worked and toiled for our marriage while he contributed the equivalent of one cent. Yet, I “begged at evening, counting my scanting store” as I acknowledged this imbalance, yet didn’t do anything to resolve it. Sure, I may have asked for equality, for respect, for love…but in the end, I accepted less than what I wanted and deserved – in ways that included the following:
Looking back, it’s easy to see what patterns kept repeating in the relationship. He made me feel devalued, worthless, and that no one else could possibly want me with all of my so-called “unacceptable flaws”. And I subconsciously accepted this as truth. Not willfully, of course. It was due to his persistent and calculated planting of the seeds of doubt and humiliation. He carefully tended the sprouts of my fading self-esteem and lowered confidence until finally, he was rewarded with a harvest of my full-blown self-denial and sense of worthlessness.
By the time I’d reached the above-referenced point, my thoughts and motivations were mostly beyond my control because I’d been conditioned and psychologically manipulated . However, I’d contributed to that state-of-being by sweeping his crimes under the rug in hopes that he would finally love me in the way I wanted. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was bargaining for a penny. I exchanged my worth for his.
The Small Print
We all have our own reasons for deferring ourselves in order to gain love from someone. However, if I’d been more aware of the economy of love, I’d have insisted on a more equal supply and demand. Instead, I devalued my own worth so his could be inflated…
If you are in a one-sided relationship where you are taking part in these same behaviors, you, too, are bargaining for a penny. The “wages” of love should not keep you in the red.
Copyright © 2015 Kim Saeed. All Rights Reserved.
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