Ever wonder how some people seem to get what they want but you feel like an outsider in your own life? You bend over backwards for the people in your life EVEN strangers.
You do everything right: you don’t cause a fuss, you color inside the lines, you keep your head down, you don’t ask for much and yet…you can’t seem to get ahead or be appreciated for all that you do.
Careful, you can slip into martyrdom. It is a slippery slope. You see, on the surface, you are the dependable one, the responsible one, the one who people know they can trust and depend on. You have been this way for as long as you can remember. You might have slipped into this role in your family dynamic because it didn’t seem like anyone else was going to get X handled, so you had to step up.
You handled the situation, it may have come to you easily or it may have been incredibly difficult but you didn’t complain. Most likely, there was no one to express your concerns too because everyone else was in their own bubble.
Before you knew it, you had become ‘the one’. Enter the ‘Good Girl’. You knock yourself out to ring the bell again and again to get that fix of being good: the good girl.
Initially, it feels good to be depended upon. But there is a switch when it starts to feel like a burden. It is so subtle, life is going along the same as usual. Someone asks you to do something, but they aren’t really waiting for your answer, they assume you are going to say yes. They just want a sound to come from your lips. But you are tired, weary of being depended upon, but where can you lean?
Let me tell you a story. My mother was that person for everyone in her life. The ONE: husband, son, me, aunts, sisters, nieces, nephews, in-laws, friends, co-workers and yes to strangers. You know the type, easy to get along with, kind, considerate, full of love, the kind of love that you just want to cozy up to and get it on tap.
She expired, she died at 50. Now all these people who depended on her had this enormous void, a hole. Excluding the in-laws, friends, and co-workers, all the other people expected me to step into her shoes.
I never considered ‘being nice’a good thing. I rather like kind as a concept, because it has a built-in boundary. There is an implied choice. My mother’s life and death taught me very well about boundaries and the necessity to have them.
(Because my mother was risk-averse, I wildly took risks just so I wouldn’t be like her. She liked that for the most part, I would swear she planned it that way. She was THAT good.)
I knew my father was devastated, his beloved, my mother and he were inseparable for over 28 years. I had heard the story of his good friend whose wife had passed years before (10) and her clothes still hung in the closet. I didn’t want that for my Daddy, so after we buried her in Alabama, I flew home to New York early to pack her things. I reminisced about this garment or that one, tried to squeeze my feet into my favorite shoes of hers. I gave away her belongings and had everything handled and sorted by the time he returned home.
It helped me process and grieve and I am glad that I did it. What I didn’t expect came next. My brother and father became dependent on me: for all things household including cooking. And they were both at home all day, while I went to college and worked both full time.
I asked questions why on Earth they would still be hungry when they had ample time to prepare a meal. I was met with half answers and blank stares. I feared that if I didn’t put my foot down to stop this madness, I might become the result of my mother’s end.
There were no more family talks, we barely communicated, we just walked around in our own personal hells of our individual loss. So, I followed their lead and ate before I came home. I didn’t have the energy or emotional space to get into a debate of them taking me for granted.
My mother’s surviving sister and my cousins were a totally other thing. I got a phone call from one of my cousins and she informed me that when my aunt spoke to me, she spent the rest of the day in bed because I sounded so much like my mother and it upset her. So I stopped calling. I didn’t know what else to do. I mourned yet again because I loved to talk to her. What was I supposed to do with that information besides what I did? My twenty-something-year-old mind didn’t have any other solution.
I shared my mother’s passing with my job because I needed the time off for her home going services. After that, I don’t recall sharing anything with them. I kept my head down, did my job and moved onto the next thing. A professor asked why I was doing poorly in his class after doing so well in class and I reminded him that my mother died. He asked me if it was really true right in front of the whole class. I confirmed through tears, that yes it was true.
All the avenues, I previously had (or that I thought I did) were stalled with no sight of beginning again or continuing, so I had to create my own version of family and healing with my friends and a good therapist. It was messy and hard and I didn’t have the emotional space to care what it looked like to anyone else. I was fighting for my life.
I share this story with you to for you to model or to remind you to choose yourself FIRST especially when it is hard and everything in your life feels like you should concede. Worrying about rocking the boat or making another person comfortable BEFORE you have secured a soft place for you to land is a violation.
A violation of the worst kind, because on the surface being the good girl is what you are trained to do and be. Being nice, apologizing when another steps on your toes, bend over backward and say yes when you don’t want to doesn’t get you the results that you want.
Of course, this is withIN reason and in situations where there isn’t any perceived danger. Here is the thing, a lot of ‘danger’ is the fear of not being liked, loved or accepted.
What if, just for today, you decided that you are worthy. AND that perhaps if you are not free to say, you can allow your action to speak for you. What would that be for you? How would that empower you to see to it that your dreams and desires come to pass?
You can still the One but you get to decide who you are, what you are willing to do and what is not ok. No more bending over backwards. No more to appeasing others in your life while dying on the inside of what you want.