An Assertiveness Serendipity

There must be a strange connection between my need for assertiveness practice and ordering drinks.  It’s always the drinks! I just wrote a post on assertiveness yesterday and how helpful grumpy baristas can be in our assertiveness practice; and, last night it happened again–the wrong drink.

My husband and I went out to dinner to celebrate our 19th wedding anniversary.  We always go to the same restaurant.  I’m not sure why we do that.  Are we preparing to be elderly people who dislike change? We even went at 4 PM! The Early Bird Special?

I ordered a mocktail to drink rather than a cocktail.  Between my neurologist and my newly acquired rheumatologist, I’m on five prescription drugs! No drinkies for me.  It was some sort of blueberry-citrus concoction that sounded lovely on the menu.  I was given something similar except it came in a martini glass, and it tasted very intense.  Mocktails are usually served over ice.  This tasted strongly of limoncello and mint.  I began to wonder if I was served the wrong drink.  An alcoholic drink.  I stopped drinking it as soon as I began to feel weird.  A little woozy (I am a very cheap date).

Sure enough, when the bill arrived my husband said, “Yep, they did give you the wrong drink.  They served you something called The French Riviera.”  Oh really?! Did they now? Well, here I am again only now I have to talk to a server rather than a grouchy barista.  My husband, however, had only skimmed the bill and paid it promptly.  He told me in passing about my drink.  I felt irritated.  Why should we pay $11 for a drink that we did not order? He simply said, “It doesn’t matter.”

This is where I could feel my inner Yosemite Sam rise up, and this is the moment I knew that ten years of practicing assertiveness was beginning to pay off.

“What? Did you say that it doesn’t matter? It most certainly does matter! Why did you pay for that? I didn’t order it, and I didn’t like it.  They also prepared the wrong drink! I didn’t order an alcoholic beverage! What if I was allergic to alcohol or couldn’t have it for some reason? It’s their mistake.  They needed to know.  And, I matter! What I want matters.  That’s the bottom line here.”

You know that look that men get on their faces when they’re terrified that they’ve really stepped in it with their wives? That look.  That’s the look that began to take over my husband’s face.  I felt amused.

I wasn’t going to fight over a drink.  It felt strangely empowering and reassuring at the same time to know that I could finally put into words that very deep feeling that comes with wanting to stand up for oneself.  The feeling that many of us grow up with–“Hey! What about me? Aren’t I worth something, too? Aren’t I worth fighting for?”

Yes, we are, and, as I’ve often suspected, we are the ones who will fight for us.  We are our best advocates.  Ironically, we often learn how to be assertive and self-advocate by doing for others first.  Once we’ve got that down we can finally internalize that elusive truth–we are worth fighting for, too.

Opportunities to learn are everywhere.  Even in French restaurants.

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