I Aim to Please

Recovering-People-Pleaser-Is-that-OK

A new friend recently asked me if I would be interested in nannying for her toddler, since I am home with my little one anyway. My brain was telling me to get as far away from the situation as I could (run! run now!), but I told her I would think about it. And that I would be happy to help the following week while she and her husband were working on some home renovations. No problem! I told myself.

The thing is, I am not really a kid person. I value my alone time, which often coincides with naptime in my house. Getting two toddlers to nap each day is a lot different than getting my own son to sleep. Basically, nannying is not something that I would ever, in a million years, be interested in doing. If my husband and I decide to have another baby we will figure it out as we go, but it will be our baby, and I will be willing to make sacrifices because I love my family fiercely.

It turns out I am not capable of saying what I really think when someone asks me for help.

Hi, my name is Jen, and I am a people pleaser. When someone asks me for something, I try to do it even if it isn’t good for me, isn’t what I want, and possibly interferes with the healthy functioning of my life. I try to solve their problems even though they aren’t mine to solve.

In the end I watched my friend’s son for one whole day, from start to finish. It went well, I thought. I got both toddlers to sleep at naptime, after some struggling and crying, but nobody died or got injured. When my husband got home he asked me about my day, and I started crying and couldn’t stop, thinking about doing it again the next day. It turns out I was doing something that I didn’t want to do, and I had rationalized it to myself by saying that it was the kind and unselfish choice. Really, I just didn’t know how to tell my friend no. I wasn’t being true to myself.

In theory, I like the idea of being a person who has a home open to kids. Where people can drop by whenever, stay all day, and enjoy themselves. I also like the idea of going to medical school, or living on a commune, or opening a nursery for plants, but that doesn’t mean that my personality is suited to those things, either. I am happy to host play dates, help friends in emergencies, and go out of my way for the people that I love, but I get to decide when and with whom to do those things. It is okay to say no, and to let other people solve their own problems in life.

I am now on my way to becoming a recovering people pleaser.

Heavy Thoughts Are Okay Today…

My thoughts have been pretty heavy, which is why I haven’t been writing as often lately. Sometimes it is just too much to process, and I would rather sit on it for awhile. Lately I have been thinking more about family, codependency, and my past. I have also been having some sneaky drinking thoughts. While some people have nice, tidy thoughts about having a glass of wine, my thoughts tend to run more towards wanting to get totally shitfaced wasted. So…at least I definitely know that they are wolfie talking. They are easy to spot and say NO to. I am not sure what is prompting them, but they are much weaker than they used to be, which is something at least. More annoying than anything else. Shut the ‘F’ up, wolfie. Geez, get the hint. I don’t do that anymore!

I have been reading ‘Codependent No More’ by Melody Beattie. Through this journey into recovery I have realized that some of my attachments to family members are a big ‘ole mess. Actually, their attachments to one another are a little bizarre, too, so we are all a big mess. It is what happens when you are raised in a household with an active alcoholic. One big, happy family filled with people trying to figure things out, and often finding the answers in a bottle of booze.

I have become less codependent than I used to be, as I used to be kind of crazy in personal relationships, especially those of a romantic nature. I was jealous and suspicious, and I would totally lose myself in a relationship. I aimed to please, which didn’t end up pleasing ANYONE at all. So, I went through romantic relationships as a serial monogamist. Those relationships were filled with drama disguised as fun, drinking, concerns about my drinking, fighting, and then a big break up, often followed by no contact in the future. Sometimes I would even move away. Eventually, I would meet a new man who thought I was SO fun, and start the pattern all over again. I gradually gained a better sense of self in my late 20’s and early 30’s, and my personal relationships are much better now. Lucky for my husband, right?! There are still remnants of those messes to clean up, though. Mainly in my mind, as those dudes are LONG GONE, thank God.

I have realized that I behave in a codependent way towards certain family members, and that it is holding me back. For me, this looks like worrying too much about their lives, to the point where it keeps me up at night because it is all I can think about. I am trying to detach from worry and place the focus on to MY life. It is working out OK, but it is a constant battle to detach. I am plagued with the ‘shoulds’. I should give them a call. Write an email. Send a gift. DO SOMETHING. Blah, blah, blah. I have to shut that voice off a lot.

Recovery feels like a lot of work sometimes! It is worth it, though, because I feel really good a lot of the time. I genuinely like being sober. In between sorting out these big, heavy issues, I enjoy most of my life. I was thinking today about how anxious I used to be to go to the grocery store. I mean, crippling anxiety…and I don’t have that anymore! That’s pretty dang cool. So, I shall continue to keep going living my sober life, tell wolfie to leave me alone whenever he pops his stupid head up, and sort out the shit that is holding me back. No problem, right?