There was the time that a coworker was laid off and I sent him and email asking if there was anything I could do to help him out. He responded by coming on to me. His daughter is my age.
Or the time that a particular "gentleman" took a liking to me, and me being the oblivious person I am, felt weird about things but couldn't quite put my finger on it. When I was off work because of my illness, he insisted on taking me out to lunch once a week. I didn't have an issue with that until he brought me flowers and we were standing in my apartment and he was between me and the door and I had the thought, "I don't have a clear escape path right now." (Because that's totally normal. Ladies always listen to your Intuition.) The next week he picked me up, I made sure to meet him in the parking lot. The week after that he showed up early, catching me by surprise and coming into my apartment again. I felt creeped out and sick to my stomach. I think he sensed I was feeling uneasy because the week after that he invited me to have lunch with him AND HIS WIFE at their house. I was relieved. I drove out to his house and, surprise surprise, his wife wasn't there. And he wanted to drink and get in the hot tub together. I rebuffed everything and left. He sent me a scathing email a few hours later telling me how selfish and self-centered I was.
I've written about it before - here and here. We are socialized to not be "selfish." Selfish is bad. Selfish is unwanted. "Don't be selfish!" We're told as young children as a way to get us to behave and interact with others.
So when he threw that word at me, I felt sheepish (given how as a woman in America I've been socialized to be a doormat). I saw my therapist a couple days later and she helped me put the whole thing into perspective. I left her office blazing mad. HOW DARE HE! HE was the one who offered to take me to lunch each week, I hadn't even asked him to. I was less than six weeks out of a coma, barely able to walk, sleeping for 16+ hours a day, but *I* was the one who was being selfish? Because I didn't want to stay and fuck a married man old enough to be my dad in his hot tub? It literally disgusts me now to think of it and type that sentence.
Personally, I feel like the word "selfish" has been maligned. I don't like the definition:
self·ish - adjective
(of a person, action, or motive) lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one's own personal profit or pleasure.
You're damn right I'm chiefly concerned with my own pleasure. You're damn right I think of myself first. You're damn right it's not my job to make you happy. You're damn right my ONLY job is to make myself happy.
Think of it like this: everyone has a bucket. Over time, but especially as a child, your bucket is filled as you figure out who you are and what you like and come to understand yourself as a being. When your bucket is full, you have learned that it's OK to ask for what you need and you take care of yourself before others, and since your bucket is full it's no problem to be generous and share your overflowing bucket with others.
Some of us never had our buckets filled and are still filling them as adults. It means it's taking a little longer than others, and that means the bandwidth we could give to others is still going to filling out own bucket. There's nothing wrong with this. It doesn't mean we're selfish or bad people or don't care, it just means we need to focus on our own buckets more than perhaps other people do.
Here is a list of ways I am NOT being selfish:
I won't fuck you
I won't hang out with you
I cut you out of my life, regardless of our past history
I do what I want to do
I say what I want to say
I won't help you
I take care of myself
I say no
I don't want to befriend you
I set a boundary
I stick to a boundary
I don't return your message right away
I block you on my phone or online
I put myself first
And some good quotes I've seen online to wrap things up:
You are allowed to terminate toxic relationships. You are allowed to walk away from people who hurt you. You are allowed to be angry and selfish and unforgiving. You don't owe anyone an explanation for taking care of yourself. And don't ever feel badly for making a decision that upsets people. You are not responsible for their happiness. You are only responsible for your happiness.