Beliefnet
The Bliss Blog

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All sorts of tearful lately, as I am becoming ever more aware of just how long I have pretended to be invincible and invulnerable. Those who know me well, see behind the facade. Maybe I ain’t fooling anyone. I am so ready to let down my guard and let people in and allow myself to receive. No woman is an island.

This revelation arrived courtesy of a series of unexpected events over the past few weeks. Doors had opened and then closed in ‘what was the Universe thinking?’ ways. In pleasurable and painful ways. In ‘what a powerful manna-fester (as in manna from heaven) I am’ ways. In heart expanding ways. In digging through the piles of dusty closets filled with piles of emotion that I had kept stashed away so that I need not be reminded of shoulda-woulda-coulda regrets ways. In holy shift, it’s about time ways!

Some back story that may help put this into perspective. My history is that of a co-dependent caregiver whose life of service was inspired by my mom and dad who were both avid volunteers in addition to being partners, parents, employees, and friends in various and sundry combinations. They modeled a full rich life and made it all look easy. I never heard anyone say a bad word about them as I was growing up. They seemed to be universally loved. Although it may not have been a conscious choice early on in my life, I knew I wanted some of that. And so began the cultivating of the persona that I named “Little Shirley Temple, everybody’s sweetheart, tap dancing for attention”. She/I wanted to be ‘loved best of all,’ so I did everything I could to ensure that would occur, some at my own peril. I became an emotional contortionist who would bend over backward to please people. I made sure not to rock the boat or make waves. Heaven forbid that I should act as if I was needy (ew, ick). In reality, I did have medical needs (asthma) that my parents valiantly attempted to meet and I felt guilty that they would often need to wake up in the middle of the night when I couldn’t breathe and I would inhale shower steam. My mother would take me to regular doctor visits for allergy shots. Of course, those are all things that good parents do and yet, I internalized my own beliefs that I was a burden.

In the business my husband and I ran for 10 years, I was not the most accountable partner and felt that I had let him down. These days, more than 18 years after his death, I have become ultra responsible and don’t allow wiggle room for too many mistakes. Harshly critical at times, I have had such a difficult time admitting that I can’t go it alone. I have allowed people in my life to do things for me that I had thought I ‘should’ be able to do myself and had no right to expect that anyone does for me. It feels unnatural but necessary at times.

I had erroneously believed that the measure of my worth and therefore, lovability, was based on my performance. Not sure where all this originated, since my parents never pressured me to succeed by their standards, but rather, my own which were outrageous at times. I often would stifle my emotions so I could function as a therapist and a family caregiver for my husband and parents in the last few years of their lives. I would expect myself to handle whatever arose as my mother had. She was the rock of the family and I have taken up the mantle in her place. Even as I had forgotten myself, I would tell her, “rocks crumble”. I eventually did and to this day, need to be mindful of times when I am at the point of collapse before I dare ask for help or support. Even when I do, I am eager to take back the reins so as not to lean too heavily on someone else.

I am deeply blessed and grateful for the sweet souls who have gathered ’round and offered love without my even asking. They know that unless I realize a boat is available that they are willing to help paddle, I would likely attempt to swim ashore.

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