Are you happy now?

People pleasing has an evil twin named resentment. I just saw an article about how women are taught to be people pleasers through social conditioning, and men are generally trained to be providers.

My problems with people pleasing and resentment are that I am generally assuming what people want based on my understanding of them-instead of asking them what they want. Then doing this small or grandiose thing for them to make “them” happy. If their reaction is something I didn’t expect, I feel unloved. The reality is that I set the whole situation up. I decided I would do something for them, they didn’t react how I want them to react, I am hurt.

It isn’t bad to help people, but what is it that people really need? To find out, I have to get out of my skin enough to listen and ask, not assume. Not randomly try to buy their love with random gifts or try to backhandedly control them with intent.

Generally, I have to think long and hard at what I do, when I do, and how I do. Lots of times my intentions are pure, but there are other times where I have a lacking that I am trying to fill with a thing or an action, and I am secretly overcompensating.

Compassion: Part 2

I’ve mentioned A&M before in my boots post.  They have one of the most beautiful marriages I’ve ever seen.  And they treasure and delight in each other more than a decade later (and they’re smokin hot).  One of the best things that M ever said to me is, “You’ve got to cradle each other with your words, keep each other safe.” That blew my mind.

I used to be addicted to sarcasm, before I heard M say this to me.  And, sure… I had my sarcastic relapses here and there, I really tried to change.  I feel that sarcasm keeps you on edge.  Keeps you from ever really being able to let your guard down around the ones you love, sarcasm reinforces emotional walls.   You can come close, but not too close.  Sure, it can be “funny” and it was hard to imagine my personality without my cutting wit, sharpened and ready to slice, dice and julienne you at a moments notices.

But I also found that in those silences, where I’m not thinking about what I’m going to say.  That life gets better.  I get to hear who you really are, what you really need, and what is going on with you.  I get to politely disengage from the barbs and find a softer way.  I used to run a networking chapter of all women business owners, and I took a lot of M’s wisdom to that podium.  I taught that it is better to be soft, to trust and to cradle each other with our words.  I feel that helped make me successful, and I feel it helped me really connect and make some good happen in the world.

Thanks, M.  In a sentence you changed my life for the better and I love you.

I can has boundaries?

I have been limiting some consumption lately and that brings up issues for me, and since I’ve got this Internet, I may as well share…

So, Internet I’ve been thinking about this stuff… boundaries.  I spoke to L, and she’s one of my dearest friends.  Because I have some issues around eating, drinking, talking, sex, smoking.  I enjoy a lot of the benefits and positive aspects of those things…  I think a good blog post would be to outline the pros and cons of each of these for me.  But not now, because that would be a distraction and this is my blog, not yours so quit being bossy.

OK, so right… L.  I was bemoaning something to her as I always do.  I think it was something about impulse control.  There are several ways that I drink.  Happy, light, social drinking and then there’s a glass of wine drinking, and then there’s woman on a mission I don’t want to feel what I am feeling any more drinking.  This last drinking concerns me and causes me pain.  So, I was hung over in Orangevale, and I looked at L and asked why I do this.  She gave me that, oh sweet baby look, that makes me want to curl up in her lap and have her pet my head.

“You have impulse control problems.  It’s because of your cult.  When you were raised, you had to fast once a week.  So, even if you were hungry as a little kid it didn’t matter.  You were told when to be hungry, and had to eat until you cleared your plate.  It makes sense that you have no sense of portion control and that you use food to comfort or punish yourself.  It makes sense that you developed sneaky behavior around food, since your food was so heavily moderated that you had to get what you could get when you could get it how you could get it.”

I said I guess that makes sense.  But that’s food, what about the crap that comes out of my mouth and the drinking and smoking and everything else.  I have a lot of fun, but there are certain parts of it that just aren’t healthy…

Then a pure light shone from L’s halo and she said unto me (maybe I’m getting a little dramatic here), “It’s the same thing.  A lot of times you say things to get a reaction, and sometimes you don’t stop until you do.  A lot of times, you drink a lot and don’t stop until someone notices and says something.  A lot of times, you smoke cigarettes and dare people (silently) to confront you. You weren’t allowed to think your own thoughts or make your own choices.  And even when you spoke up for what was right for you, you were frequently beaten down for it.  So to survive you made other people’s truths and stories about you, your truths and your stories about you.  I think a part of your path now is to win and fail and bruise your shins and totally fuck up, to find your own boundaries and your own comfort level.  I think that food, booze, smoking and all of that is just a symptom of your bigger task right now, which is to find where your emotional boundaries are.  What do you need to do to keep you safe, happy and healthy in the world?”

I love L.

And I’ve thought a lot about it.  Because in a lot of ways I have chosen people in my life who have really black and white thinking, and some with black and black thinking.  I have chosen the ass-kickers and the shit-talkers because they will say something to keep me in line.  Because as L says, I grew up inside out and wasn’t allowed mental or emotional boundaries.

And that in my life, I have made people near and dear to me into my parents again, into my pastor again.  People that should have been my lovers, my business partners, my friends have been cornered by my behavior until they have to speak up.  I am so tired of that, and my new relationship is pretty terrifying for me.  He’s compassionate, he knows I’m in flux and he gives me space to do what I have to do as I figure out where I stand.  Because a lot of times you figure out what a boundary is by stepping the hell over it and looking back and saying “ouch, maybe I should have stopped back there…”

My friend D told me that I was the most dynamic and competent fucked up person she’s ever met.  I responded back, I guess I am just the Strutting Wounded.  But I think that we all really are.  And this is what growing up and overcoming is really about.  I don’t want to blame, I just want to heal and also find others like me who know what I am talking about.