YOURSELF OR MS. NICE
is Sabita's story. She loved beginning her day with cleaning her collection
of mythological dolls, even as musical chants wafted through her room.
This was the most important ritual of her day, her personal way to commune
with herself and get inspired for the day ahead. And then Sabita got married.
Theirs was an arranged match. Her parents had explored many proposals
before settling for this one. Sabita was 26 years old when she got married.
Her husband, Akhil was the eldest son and his mother, younger brother
and older, unmarried sister lived with him.
After the honeymoon, as most brides would probably do, Sabita plunged
heart and soul into looking after the house. She was an excellent homemaker
and a fabulous cook. And she wanted to please her new family at any cost.
She rose early every morning, dressed up prettily and started with getting
tea ready for everyone. She redecorated the house, cooked sumptuous dishes
for the family, took over the domestic accounts, supervised the part-time
helps, and tried to become a friend and confidante to her older sister-in-law.
She served everything anyone wanted at any time. And with a smile.
Of course, Sabita had to give up her favourite morning ritual of cleaning
her dolls. She could no longer listen to holy chants on the CD player,
because it disturbed her brother-in-law's sleep. To start with, she thought
it was a small sacrifice she had made. After all, isn't marriage all about
adjustments? Or is it?.
TRYING TO BE WHAT YOU'RE NOT
Sabita's veneer soon began cracking as she realised she was being taken
for granted. If she didn't dress up in the morning, her mother-in-law
was displeased. If there was nothing good to eat for dinner, her brother-in-law
was displeased. She had no time for herself. Neither for her music, nor
for her occasional shopping trips, nor for catching up with her favourite
magazines. Someone or the other in the family wanted her all the time.
If not for stitching a missing button, then for making a phone call to
the doctor. It went on and on. But didn't she ask for it? Sabita felt
her moods going out of hand.
She felt the frequent urge to scream. She could no longer put with being
Ms Nice all the time. She had fallen into the trap that many girls do.
Trying to please others by being what you're not.
MS NICE AT WHAT COST?
Trying to be goodness personified comes with a heavy price. True, in Indian
families, you are considered "selfish" if you attempt to protect your
space. Many women fall into the Ms Nice trap because being "not nice"
But what women need to realise is that while it is okay to want to please
a new family, it must be done only by continuing to be yourself. Being
at your best behaviour takes a toll very soon, and you lose the right
to say no, even when you want to. Result? It is the beginning of a loss
of control over your life. Because you allow other people to exploit you
continually, the resentment builds up and sometimes after months or years
of the Ms Nice routine, you could end up with an emotional outburst.
Here are a few tips to help you protect your boundaries in a new family
what your personal likes and dislikes are and stand up for them.
make 'sacrifices' in the name of adjustment unless you are sure you
want to give up something.
- Do what
you would normally do, dress the way you usually do, eat what you like
and say no when someone is overriding your space. Say it softly but
- If you
don't want others to peep into your cupboards or rearrange things for
you, make sure you don't do any of these to them. Resist the temptation
of rearranging jars and bottles in the kitchen the way you would like
taking control. Or being responsible for everyone's comfort. A controlling
person often ends up becoming the most controlled person in the end.
If you draw the lines at the beginning it will be easier. Be yourself
first and Ms Nice after that.