There can be a sense of shame, sometimes almost disgust, in experimenting with the idea that you could deserve more. It can feel almost recklessly naughty, holding something which is urging better for you.
Whilst self-respect can be the loud, decisive, affirming push of summoned defiance in the face of something cruel, manipulative, belittling. It is also the softer voice.
The whisper that pecks at our chests and asks gently to be heard. It trembles with doubt and supposedly terrible self-indulgence, but it hushes at our humble protests and gives us the suggestion that maybe, just maybe, we have settled for something too much less than what we can, than we should, than we deserve.
It’s as though you set out chairs for others to sit by you, to talk with you, to take your energy, your time. You sculpt these chairs for them; carve elaborately for design and place velvet down for comfort. Continue. Emanate such generosity for others as though your exhales are saturated with the care. Yet mind they don’t rock on those chairs, scrape the floor, wobble and agitate the joints of the chairs weaker. Mind they don’t swiftly, smoothly, smirking, ask you up to dance with them, only to leave you beaming and breathless but your chair whisked away from underneath you and the others upturned, in their jealous, troubled, selfish sniggers and shrugs.