When I was a young wife, I prided myself on keeping a clean home, cooking my husband’s favorite meals, taking care of the kids, managing our family business, mowing the lawn, shoveling the snow, balancing the checkbook, paying the bills, and taking care of just about every aspect of our family’s life.
Rarely did I get a good night’s sleep or spend time alone with my friends. Never did I dare get a massage, manicure or pedicure. I was too good of a mom to dare think about my needs over the needs of my family, or at least that was my frigged up perception of self-care at the time.
OH BOY—since then, I have learned a thing or two—thank heaven!
You see, before I began my recovery journey, I didn’t need anybody and I didn’t want anyone to think I needed them.
After over a decade of me trying to be Super Woman, and the desire to be the fixer upper for my family had worn me thin, I was DONE! Not only was I done, I was pissed off, resentful, angry, disillusioned and depressed.
At the time I didn’t know I had followed in my mother’s footsteps. Deep in my subconscious mind I had been taught that my worth would be found in DOING for others, CATERING to others, and in the NOT needing or expecting of help from anyone for anything. I was taught to CAVE when others were unhappy and to instead, spend my life anticipating the needs of others and to make sure I never upset anyone by daring to have a need of my own or dare to set a boundary.
In my childhood home, we were praised for NOT needing. I had been taught that only weak people ask for help and so I never asked. I lived in fear of having my parents think of me as less than, and so, in spite of how worn out I was as a young mom, I forged on and did my best to pretend I was okay when in reality I was not.
I was pretty pissed off by the time I asked for a divorce, but in reality, I was just as upset with myself as I was with my ex. If I would have known I was enough, and that it was GOOD to ask for help and to expect the father of my children to help out, I might not have been so burnt out. And if he would have refused to participate, I could have set boundaries around what chores I was willing to do and not do. Because I was taught to believe I was unworthy, I stuffed my feelings, made myself sick, excused enabling and even taught entitlement.
Not telling my truth got me into a ton of physical as well as emotional trouble.
My fear of being perceived as weak was my ego talking. In addition to being afraid of being viewed as weak, I was also afraid of others letting me down. If I asked for help and others said ‘no’, what then?
Codependency creeps into our worlds in the most invisible ways. I never felt good enough and so I did everything and hoped that would do the trick. Any way you slice it, I was trying to manipulate how people saw me, which of course, is not something I even had the right to try and manipulate anyway.
Sometimes we do things because we want something in return, whether that is validation, appreciation, acknowledgment, consideration, praise, or some other form of recognition. When we engage in practices because we are hoping someone will make us feel good enough, we are NOT showing up as our authentic selves and the end result we experience will not be satisfying.
Sure, it is good to expect to have others appreciate us for who we are, but when we enter relationships half full and unconsciously do for others because we are hoping we one day receive that pat on our back our mothers and fathers were supposed to give us way back when, we sell ourselves short, teach others to take advantage of us, and repeat cycles that need to end.
Have you ever done something for someone, expected a particular response, did not receive that response, and then got angry because the person did not offer you the response you expected?
If so, don’t feel bad. I lived most of my life that way unaware I was unaware, and in fact, most people do.
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