My story is not one of addiction or abuse, it is one of a pretty normal life. A good upbringing, I was close to both parents, my Dad had a demanding job and my Mum was full time at home and both were very dedicated to giving us the best start in life in different ways and I always knew I was very loved. I was never academic, I found studies hard and laborious, so left school at age 16 and began work. Even though I wasn’t academic, not succeeding wasn’t really an option or something I ever considered, I had seen others close to me succeed regardless so I always had my sights set really quite high. So as I felt programmed to do, I built my career from office junior over the next 10-15 years and got to where I wanted to be, good job, good income, travelled the world, I got married and then went on to have children of my own then started my own business whilst the children were young and when I felt the need to be at home. And I think that through this I almost got to the point of believing that my life was sorted and I was pretty invincible.
Then a few years ago, things began to change and a relationship dear to me began to break down and I ended up feeling very hurt and disappointed. These events rippled and escalated further over a further period of 3 years and during this time I became worn down and this led me to a point of depression, anxiety lack of confidence and low self esteem which I have never experienced before. Even though I have always been very focussed and driven, I still gave much of myself to those that I care about, going above and beyond priding myself on these things, however, what I had never considered before is that I gave because of what was expected of me and fear of being a disappointment and that I was equally to blame for such expectancy of others!
With the help of Adullam & Celebrate Recovery, and looking and breaking down some of my issues, particularly through journaling and having a good, balanced support structure around me, I came to understand that much of my source of joy was people and pleasing them. When they were happy with me, I was happy. When they were unhappy with me, I was unhappy, My happiness level went up and down based much on the people in my life. Tied in with that was that my level of happiness was tied to my expectations of them being met too. And that much of my giving was then based on what I receive back from them was not financial, I wanted praise, I wanted gratitude, I wanted a level of dependency from them and had an unrealistic dream in my mind. So I gave on the basis that I would receive rather than just being content with the fact I had given and that being kind is just a great thing to do.
So I hear you asking, but isn’t that just a human reaction?
Why would you give on the basis that you don’t then receive something back. The thing is that this was where I was finding my identity and I can see now this means that my self esteem was low and dependant on others and their acceptance and view of me. So when these relationships were stripped back it left me with dashed expectations, disappointment and a gaping void. I was a people pleaser and when I didn’t please or meet expectations again I was left feeling very rejected and hurt. Because my level of happiness was attached to pleasing others, much emotion was also involved and when things went wrong I acted from feelings as a result. These are habits I have seen in others and these are behaviours I have learned as result. I have come to realise that this is not helpful and has often led to me reacting in a way that causes further issues rather than bringing quick resolve. I have also realised a couple of really important life lessons; firstly there is nothing I can do to control other people’s actions towards me I can only control the way that I act towards them.
Secondly, from time to time, throughout life people will act badly towards me and when they do I don’t need to try and bring justice or fix that situation, instead I can be content in knowing that this is beyond my control and that rising above their actions and doing the right thing is enough. I can see now that I accepted some of my bad habits thinking that they were just part of me rather than understanding that I could choose my reaction, my bad habits are not easy to break, it takes time, perseverance and determination and sometimes it can feel uncomfortable being honest with myself, but in understanding that it is in my interests to change and that it helps me greatly in the long run in lots of different ways, I have the incentive I need to mature and journey into happier, freer and more liberating life.
Adullam and Celebrate Recovery gives you the support and tools to look at these things objectively and within the things that are in our control. I have also come to understand that healthy Community that cheers you on in the right things is powerful and makes all the difference. Our lives are complex, we all carry various types of baggage and having the chance to listen and learn from others and their honesty in their struggles has helped me to see that everyone of us faces difficulties but how we navigate those difficulties is really important.