I have only one New Year’s Resolution: To Stop Being a Doormat.
I am not your rolling wheels
I am the highway
I am not your carpet ride
I am the sky — Audioslave
“Hi, I’m Erica Rhodes, what kind of doormat would you like?” is how I used to introduce myself.
“Would you like a cheerful welcome mat that tells you how good- looking you are? You got it!
What about a wallflower mat, you barely notice exists, but you get to walk all over? Coming right up!
How about a sweet, soft, cuddly mat that keeps your feet warm at night? My pleasure!
A mat that lets myself out? Sure….
A mat that just sits here politely while you wipe your feet on other mats? Why not.
A mat for storage?
A mat for decoration?
A mat for all occasions?
You want it, I sell it!”
After a year of hard-core, and I mean hard-core daily coaching with my incredible coach/therapist, Harry Petsanis, I have finally reached a level of awareness where I realize if I continue down the path of doormatism, I will never achieve any of my professional or personal goals, and I will wind up a curled-up ball of nihilism on my own floor, unable to ever reach my full potential.
Luckily, I did meet Harry, exactly a year ago, and he helped address my primary issue: that of incredibly low self-esteem and self-worth. (I know — crazy to think a comedian would suffer such traits).
For most of my adult life, I thought that self-worth came from the outside world.
Self-love was a foreign concept to me, beyond my comprehension. Some kind of corny joke. A platitude on a yogi’s bumper sticker. I didn’t truly understand my value. I only placed my value on the impression others had of me. Did they like me? Did they accept me? Did they value me?
I thought, if only I’m sweet enough, kind enough, loving enough. If only I laugh at their mediocre jokes, smile incessantly, listen when they talk, make them feel seen, heard, and adored, maybe then I’ll feel good enough, valuable enough, worthy of love.
Surprise! It never works.
One time I asked a guy I was seeing, “Do you like me?” And he asked, “Do you like yourself?”
He was right to ask that, because the truth is, I didn’t. And I understand now why he asked, though at the time I thought he was simply evading the question.
He was asking the real quesiton. The one I needed to be asked, that showed he actually did like me, or at least cared about me. (No bad feelings toward that guy).
I used to think being a doormat was a privilege.
Wait… you want ME to be YOUR doormat? It must be my lucky day! Out of all the doormats in the world, you want to walk on ME?
Wow. I’m honored.
Last year, I was seeing a guy who didn’t even call me back on NYE.
“What’s wrong?” he asked on facetime.
“I guess I just feel lonely, it’s NYE.”
“Want me to call back?”
He never did. He sent me a text at 2am, an obligatory: Happy New Year.
I had been seeing him long distance for six months. The day before Christmas, he took himself shopping, while I tagged along. Obviously hurt, I walked out of the store, not feeling confident enough to say, “Hey…this is kinda weird that you’re shopping for yourself the day before Christmas.” Or better yet, “Ciao! Have fun shopping for yourself…by yourself!”
I spent my NYE, last year, walking down the streets of NYC alone, crying in the rain, feeling ashamed that I had canceled a show because he had talked me out of working that night, just so he could also ignore me.
The next morning, I woke up on Jan 1st at my aunt’s apartment on the Upper West Side.
My cousin, Maia was having a sleepover with her friend, Erin.
Both girls have learning disabilities — different forms of autism. They are both authentic, loving, talk a mile-per-minute, and are great company.
We all went on a walk in Central Park, on the first day of 2020 (we had no idea what was coming — yikes). It was still drizzling out, and the air smelled fresh, with that early morning fog.
Erin held my hand the whole time as we walked.
“Are you sad?” she asked.
“A little,” I admitted.
“What would you do if your boyfriend didn’t call you on NYE?” I asked her.
Without even a beat she said,
“I’d call my other boyfriend.”
Good answer, I thought. I can learn something from her about self-worth.
I ended the one-sided, non-relationship, and moved on. But I swore to myself, it will never take me that long to walk away again.
This year, I wasn’t dating anyone, but I had a few unfulfilling friendships I also decided to end. I politely sent a few texts saying, “This isn’t working for me.” And it felt good to walk away like that, without any anger or blame or punishment. Just a simple, “Not for me, take care.” No hard feelings. Just not what I need in my life right now.
Luckily, I have finally learned, that it is my choice to be…
or not to be…
And I choose, not to be ever again.
From now on I’m, “Erica, I’ll be very sweet if you’re sweet, but the second you try to walk all over me, you can kindly go F*** yourself, (I mean, show yourself the door), please don’t step on the mat on your way out, it’s not for you, Rhodes.”
Nice to meet you. And Happy New Year.”