Figuring out how to get your needs met through other people is very complicated. What do I have the right to ask of them? What can they give me and do I have the right to it, I wonder. In the same respect, I wonder, what do I have to offer them? What can they get from me? Obviously there is something they are getting from me since they insist on spending time and enjoying that time with me. That people like and enjoy me is a continual amazement to me. You mean I don’t have to be this wonderful spectacular straight-A perfect person and I am still liked?! I can be lazy and selfish and, dare I say it, HUMAN, and people will still like me? This sounds all very selfish and I don’t intend it to be. On the other hand, I don’t believe in altruism either.
My therapist and I talked about how people, women especially, don’t ask for what they need. We just expect people to be mind readers. We live with the absurd beliefs that, “I shouldn’t have to ask!” and “If I have to ask it doesn’t mean as much.” I remember reading once, in a book about people with low self-esteem, that people with low self-esteem often set up little tests for people, usually without their knowledge. Like, “if so and so doesn’t invite me out after work today then everyone hates me.” Does so and so know you want to go out with the group after work? We have to teach people what we want and need from them. Maybe ask if you can join the group after work. It might take a few times but sooner or later they won’t give a second thought to inviting “Sally” out for drinks on a Friday. (This is an awkward thing for me to do and I should practice what I preach, but oh well.)
There are some people you can go to for certain things more than others. My therapist put it this way, “If your tooth hurts you don’t go to a foot doctor; You go to a dentist.” I can go to my Aunt (I think) for things I
might not would not go to my mother for. Judgements from my Aunt mean something but they are not so utterly earth shattering as judgements from Mom have been because I know my Aunt still cares about me. She might shake her head at my untidy tendencies, unwise purchases, and timid behaviors, but I know, I feel, that they don’t change the way she generally feels about me. With Mom there are a lot of qualities I admire and appreciate (my goodness do I appreciate them!) but there is also so much fear and pain there.
It is a foreign concept to me that people will like me no matter whether I feel myself to be a failure or not. Just because there have been times I’ve despised myself, my weaknesses, and things I’ve seen as failings, does not mean other people see me that way. Interactions over the past year have really opened my eyes to people who actually see me as a valuable human being. I’ve been punishing myself for so long and so hard…It is like a orphan who has only lived in the cold with a scratchy wool blanket believing that is all she deserves because, according to her, she is not smart enough or worthy enough to even dream of a warm fuzzy blanket. A warm fuzzy blanket is such a foreign concept to her she barely has any idea that it exists let alone that she might be worthy of it. All she knows is that the wool blanket is not enough and she feels overwhelmingly guilty because she believes it should be enough.
So I have a hard time understanding, conceptualizing, and believing that I have something to give to people. For so long I have lived as if I had to apologize, fix, make better, compensate, explain, and sacrifice so that others would be happy and I would justify my inclusion, existence, wants, needs, etc.
This year 2014 will be a year of forgiveness for me. I will forgive myself for being so hard on myself. I will forgive myself for being so afraid and living in fear for so long. I will forgive myself for living as if life is a hardship rather than something to be enjoyed. I will forgive myself for allowing the actions and behaviors of others to hinder my growth. I will forgive others for not being in a place where they can work on their own issues. I will forgive myself for not being more accepting. I will forgive myself for believing I should be anything other than human. I will forgive myself for trying to reason away my emotional needs. I will forgive myself for not being able to take a more proactive approach to getting my needs filled. I will forgive myself for not taking responsibility for my life choices. I will forgive myself for not making the gift of myself, my presence, my being, more available to people.