For most of my life, I’ve lived it as a caregiver or “doing the right thing” so to speak. That wasn’t by choice. It was ingrained into me as a Life or Death type of response by a set of parents who couldn’t get their own lives together either as separate people or as a couple. In short, they were totally miserable within themselves as well as with each other. Put both together and you’ve got a recipe for a bomb that goes off and takes down innocent by-standers as collateral damage.
Given that, I was trained into foreseeing other people’s lack of happiness and swooping in to find it for them and with them. I couldn’t stand to see anyone unhappy, in pain or upset. Where did that leave me? Right in the bullseye target for being a doormat for the users of Life.
None of us have our lives all together as Life can be rather cruel with the curve-balls it can toss into the mixes of our lives. A lot of us are struggling to simply stay afloat and survive, let alone thrive. Some of us will find what we believe to be happiness, only to be handed more bull in our lives to deal with. Is that The Universe’s way of telling us to never feel secure in anything?
Some people will say that the only true purpose in Life is to be “happy” not because our lives are going swimmingly well but in spite of them doing completely the opposite. That’s hard to do for a lot of us but, especially true for those of us who have been groomed towards making others happy first and putting ourselves last.
Most of my family has now passed on. I was a caregiver for most of them in one way or another. My now adult daughter was raised in quite the opposite type of household that I was raised in and only had herself to concern herself with most of the time. She chose to take off with a drug riddled jerk-off who has a personality disorder of some type and has been party to her dropping all of her friends and what little there is left of her family. Of course, part of that dumping has included her father and I who were and have always been there for her. I don’t hear from her and haven’t for nearly 2 years now. That should leave me fairly free to pursue new paths and interests as there’s no obligations any longer towards having to take care of anyone else other than my husband, pets and myself. I should be happy, right? Wrong.
When your sole purpose in Life has been a role of taking care of other people and making them happy, it’s not easy to let go of that role. More key is the point that when you have no one else to make happy and have never learned to take yourself into account, you have no clue as to where to start making yourself number one. It all feels wrong, decadent and causes us to feel like a fish out of water. I’m still gasping for both breath and some way to get back into the water. A lot of lonely strangers and users have been made quite happy by my need to please others.
“It should be simple,” you might be saying. “Simply treat yourself as you’d treat others.”
Logically, rationally and otherwise, you’d be making perfect sense in a normal thinking person who hasn’t made their entire lives about other people and taking care of them or pleasing them. However, in someone who has never learned who “me” is, it’s not quite as simple as that but, it should be. So, why isn’t it that easy?
When other people, including yourself, have pushed “you” into the background for the majority of your life, it’s almost as though that person doesn’t exist and may never have existed. You no longer know what would make you happy, what you want or feel or anything else. Your defences have caused you to push yourself aside and instead, look at others and their needs first. One becomes extremely efficient at seeing the needs in other people but, it’s like you have made yourself invisible and to be ignored. In other words, you no longer exist. Maybe, you never did?
People have often offered up great pieces of advice by telling me to look back at my younger years and see what dreams I had for myself and now that I have time, go for them. That is wonderful advice except panic has set in as I look back and realize that my only real dream was to get a good night’s sleep without my parents fighting or, to do well in school in spite of the fact that I had spent half of the night, searching for my father who would take off to sleep in his car somewhere to save further fighting with my mother. My real dream was to have a life that didn’t involve WWIII happening. In short, I wanted peace and to please so that I could have that in my life. Now that I have some semblance of it, I don’t know what to do with it because I’m still trying to play a role and wear the hat of the People Pleasing Caregiver. It’s the only role that I’ve known for so many years now that I don’t know how to behave or what to do with this quietness that has befallen upon my life. I can’t even find me because I never knew who I was without being those things to others.
I’ve been a daughter, granddaughter, niece, friend, neighbour, co-worker, employee, wife, mother and so many other titles that it’s hard to separate those roles but, all of them have entailed pleasing others. The words, “he and she” were always first and foremost and far above the word, “me”. I never learned to put my own oxygen mask on first before helping others put theirs on.
As I travel down this newest path, I fully recognize that Life will throw us all twists and turns in the path of Life that may or may not be clearly marked out as to which one to take. A lot of people are fighting one thing or another to simply survive in one way or another and, I’m not without those issues either. However, I have not learned how to make myself happy in spite of them. I haven’t even learned who I am while others have figured that much out to some degree or another.
Life is strange and when we think we’ve gotten our pants on straight, we’ll check them again to find out that they’re still twisted.
From my little corner of life to yours, I am asking you to share your experiences in this Life and how you’ve found yourself, how you’ve dealt with people pleasing or found a new role in Life when the old roles end. I’d love to hear from you (nicely please, no trolls who are simply there to type out angry messages).
Be well. Love and Light!
Have a great day or evening.