I came to a realization. If I'm going to survive in this world, I'm going to have to develop a thicker skin, learn to set better boundaries and become more selfish.
I was raised to sacrifice for the sake of others. As a jw, and also as my mother's daughter, I was taught that my needs were not of concern but that if I could defer to what someone else needed, that God blessed that kind of sacrifice. Apparently he had some kind of cosmic Excel spreadsheet to take note of every time I set aside what I wanted, needed, thought or felt and would tally it up come the end of the world.
I was raised to be sensitive to people's needs, even the ones they didn't know they had. My home growing up was one of emotional...strangeness. My mother, an incredibly emotional person, hid her feelings behind a painted smile most of the time. My father showed very little emotion, except the occasional burst of anger. So, most of the time I was left trying to figure out what was really going on with my parents, and brother too. I turned up my empathy barometer to sense what people were feeling and subsequently sort out what they needed from me. I remember being acutely aware of this ability from the age of 6 on.
As a jw, it's all about keeping the peace with everyone in the congregation, whether you like them or not. Actually, you're not allowed to dislike your "brothers and sisters"; you must "cover over any grievances with love". There was no room for boundary setting. No room for saying "No" and meaning it. No room for saying, "This relationship is unhealthy and I don't want to be part of it anymore." Once again, there was no room for my individual thoughts, feelings, and ideas. All was to be sacrificed for the greater good of the group.
Well, fuck that. The more time I spend observing human nature, the more I see animals vying for survival. While we like to think we're an altruistic bunch, I sincerely believe that we're a long ways off from being the loving, giving sentient beings we may aspire to be. Evolution is slow. Both personally and collectively. So, I think it's high time I thickened my skin, learned to say "No", "Enough" and "I don't like you/this/that". And to take stock of what I need and want in this life in order to survive and be willing to put myself first for awhile to get it.
So get ready. This penguin ain't takin' no more shit.