It’s like I was super hooked on a drug and I’m still having withdrawal. I don’t even want the drug anymore, I was just used to it. It was my way of living. It became who I am, and so I just accepted my life that way. Now I’m lost and confused and lonely, and even though I don’t want that drug anymore, I’m not quite sure what else to do.
I’ve never been on drugs before, but I know reason for dependency on a substance is to go after the feeling that the drug gives you.
At first, I was going to make this analogy about my almost ex-husband. Then I realized it applies to my career. But I really think it applies overall to the way I’ve been feeling, or wanting to feel, for the last 15 years.
I have been a hooked on a feeling. A fleeting feeling.
I am driven not by who I am, or what I really want, but what I can do for people. I have been caught up in the stress of imbalance between doing what is best for myself and using that energy to make others happy – in my marriage, in my career, and even when I was a little kid.
I have been hooked on doing well in life to help others, to make others happy and proud. I went to college, I acquired skills, and I have always done well at nearly everything that I do in my career. The same thing in my marriage. I paid attention and strove to be the best wife I knew how to be for my husband (no matter how much he’ll say that I did not). If he wasn’t happy, I’d overcompensate or corrected my behavior the best I knew how. We wouldn’t fail, we would prevail despite the bills and the stress of raising a family. I could make this work. “I”.
I am of the “pleaser” variety. I get honest joy out of making others happy. It’s not bullshit, I’m not making it up. I didn’t fully realize the extent to which I like this until it was too late and I had served so many others in spite of myself.
I have served others in spite of myself.
And I lacked the boundaries to look out for my own well-being.
Others do not question it. Why shouldn’t they? They aren’t responsible for my boundaries. I am nice. Nice, and smart, and oh wait, I’m pretty too. I’m “perfect”. I take these compliments and I accept them because I like feeling like I did something good and I helped someone else. I like the approval, even if it doesn’t last long.
It feels strange getting to know this person that I am in this 39-year old body. I start to have regrets about what I could’ve done, should’ve done, would’ve done in my 20s or early 30s… but I’m recognizing the same “mistakes” in others as I’ve made. Who’s to say it’s a mistake? I’m the only one saying that. I’m trying not to beat myself up and label everything I did or didn’t do that led me to this place as a mistake… because at the end of the day, I’m learning from it.
If you learn from it, it’s not a mistake. It’s a lesson. Learn, move on, and do something different the next time is what I keep telling myself.
So here I am, having an eerily similar feeling to when I was 18 and first on my own at college. I didn’t know who I was – I was just out in the world trying to “make it”. However I’ve learned that if you don’t recognize your own wants and needs, your own purpose, you can wander aimlessly and stumble into serving the purposes of others instead of your own. That happened to me. I let that happen.
I’ve been cautiously taking each step like its the first time. I’m paying attention to my feelings. MY feelings. I’m trying not to discount the reason for my feelings – that is what they are for. If I begin to feel similar to before and don’t like it (fearful, anxious, unhappy, etc.), I’m trying to take a new direction… set a boundary – even if that means straying from the comfort of known territory. What I once was is no more – I can’t be that person anymore or I will be miserable. I can’t use those drugs, the happiness of pleasing others can’t be my reason for existence. I have to find what makes me want to live on my own without pleasing others as my primary motivation.
I’m searching for my new motivation. I buried it within me long ago and it’s just taking time to emerge. I suppose it will surface when I’m ready.
Stifle Me Not