“I’m selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.”
― Marilyn Monroe
One of Marilyn Monroe’s best-remembered and most- beloved quotes. She certainly doesn’t sound like a candle in the wind there. Rather assertive in fact.
Some people have adopted it as a mantra. Knowing that their negative qualities alienate, it’s a form of affirmation. My true friends will accept me for who I am, in other words.
A good friend of mine has a different perspective though:
“What it says to me is, ‘I am needy and a drama queen. I don’t want to be your equal, I wish to be superior to you. I want an excuse to behave as badly as I want because I am special.’ For me, it’s an absolute dealbreaker. I would never date anyone that felt this way.”
Now, before your pre-judge, this is not an intolerant person who expects everyone to be perfect. This is a person who has been through some incredibly difficult times in his life. He certainly knows what depression is all about. He’s very open about his past history of poor behaviour.
With that cleared up, what do you think? I had always been one of those who nodded sagely at the Marilyn quote. Perhaps it’s because we know that she died tragically, on her own – her bright-eyed innocent sex kitten image, always up for a good time, is forever tarnished by this knowledge.
People were happy to have Norma Jean at her best, but it seems when she was at her worst people deserted her.
But putting aside the source of the quote, my friend’s different perspective on it made me think.
I’m a firm believer in being upfront about mental illness, if it’s something you live with. It’s good for your friends and family to know what you go through so they can best assist you. By the same token, it’s not a licence to behave badly with impunity.
If someone is telling you that you don’t deserve them at their best if you can’t handle them at their worst, it should give you pause for thought.
Self-improvement is a noble goal for life. We’re only here once, and striving to be a better person is going to ultimately make you happier, let alone the people in your orbit.
If someone you meet lists all their negative qualities, treat it as a conversation-opener. Do they see these as set in stone? We’re all selfish and impatient at times. But there’s a huge gulf between having a bad day and being a narcissist. Likewise with being out of control and hard to handle. A manic or a depressive episode is something to be managed, not chalked up on the board as “oh well”.
It’s a bit like letting a bull loose in a china shop and then telling the gobsmacked store owner, “that happens sometimes. If you’re pissed off, then I’ll tell his cousin not to give you any milk.”
Some of us are high-maintenance by nature. Some of us know this. But some of us are working on it, and need your help on the journey. That way you can see us at our best more often.