‘The Only Good Martyrs are Dead Ones’

My middle name is Joan, though.
My middle name is Joan, though.

Joan of Arc, I’m not. Besides, a friend once said to me: “The only good martyrs are dead ones.” That was decades ago, yet I’ve never forgotten that. Maybe because she was just one in a long line of folks who felt a need to tell me stuff like that.


Including Tanza, yesterday. She didn’t say that per se, just let me know she wasn’t thrilled about my weekend plans.  Before I go into detail, let me state for the record that I am working on my codependent behavior. I truly am.

No, I haven’t been reading The New Codependency like I’m supposed to. I started reading it, then I just, plain, ran out of time. I really did like all that I had read, even though it was just the first chapter.  Well, part of the first chapter. But that part was really good, and this weekend I intend to start over, highlighters nearby – soon as I finish getting my daughter’s room painted, and picking out some new bedding to match her new room color, and some stuff to help my son get his room organized, and also wrap all the gifts I’ve already purchased for Christmas. There are a lot of them, and 1) I suck at gift-wrapping and 2) I’m too cheap to pay someone else to do it and 3) with Bobby and Sky in Columbus for her cheer competition, I can wrap while watching a movie and sipping wine.

With enough wine, who knows? Maybe my wrapping will improve.

If you know me, my history, and my tendencies, you will have noticed an absence of me in the aforementioned weekend plans. That’s what Tanza was chewing on me about yesterday.  I’m still doing so much for other people, and nothing for myself.

I get how she thinks that. What I don’t get is why she doesn’t think that my doing for others is a form of doing for myself. It feels really good. Still, when I was at Marshalls last night getting stuff out of layaway – stop snickering; I’m halfway done, and what have you accomplished? – I moseyed over to the “women’s” section and took a look at the sweaters. I quickly found a nice, cranberry turtleneck with a tunic-like length. I’m wearing it now.

Sure, it cost about a tenth of what I spent on others, but it’s not that I don’t think I deserve to shop for myself, it’s just that right now, I prefer to do for others. And I’m happy about it.


I sorta understand how that might be perceived as a “problem,” but I have done a lot of great things for myself lately. Never mind that I can’t think of anything right now . . . OK, here’s one: I painted my new office orange. Not a subtle orange,  but a shade that would require an exclamation point. And some tchotchkes. Earlier this week, I ordered a task lamp from Amazon, so there.

And did I feel guilty about spending money on myself? You betcha.

So while the cat’s away, this mouse will play, but will also do her homework. Tanza’s been pushing me along, and there are some landmines I need to deal with, and she wants me prepared. I understand, and I want to be prepared, too.


But first, I’m really looking forward to heading out to Lowes tonight to get the paint, rollers, tape . . .

The martyr sacrifices themselves entirely in vain. Or rather not in vain; for they make the selfish more selfish, the lazy more lazy, the narrow narrower. ~  Florence Nightingale


Leslie J. Ansley is an award-winning journalist and entrepreneur who blogs daily for TheRoot. She lives in Raleigh, NC.