I know myself well enough by now to have a grasp on my good personality traits and my bad, and one of my worst flaws is being a people pleaser. My Dad always preferred my brother to me, I think fundamentally because he was a misogynist who thought women were a waste of space, and he criticised me constantly. It didn’t matter that my brother only managed one O level and I got ten, plus three A levels and post grad in Business law, because my brother was a professional footballer and in my Dad’s eyes that was all important. It didn’t matter that my brother possessed no other skills while I had 1000, because I was a girl and as far as he was concerned I could never pass muster. For years I tried and tried to get my Dad to praise me, to tell me I was worthy and that he was proud of me, and failed miserably.
You can imagine the implications this message had on me as a child and the impact it had on my relationships with men in the future. I chose partners whose words and deeds re-enforced that I wasn’t good enough and I believed them. Add to this years of being bullied by older girls at school and my self esteem was in tatters.
I didn’t meet my now best friend until I was in my mid thirties and she can’t believe I was ever lacking in self belief or self confidence. I’ve worked really hard at undoing the harm inflicted on my psyche by the bullies, my Dad and my Exs and for the most part I’ve done a good job. But one trait has been left behind and it’s my tendency to need to defend myself when criticised. And it drives me bonkers.
Example: before I started wearing wigs, I’d washed my hair one day, not bothered blow drying it, and gone out in my garden. My (bald!) next door neighbour, who’s a gobby little shit, pipes up “what the bloody hell have you done to your hair?!” Now, what I should have said is “well at least I’ve got some hair!” but instead my reply was “I’ve just washed it, why?” to which he replied “well it’s a right fucking mess”. Cheers for that.
I’ve found that I try to defend myself on my blog all the time. When someone starts a comment with “I disagree……” I’m never sure what my reply should be. What I want to say is “if you have a differing opinion write your own blog and express it there, because this is my blog and I can say whatever the hell I like without having to justify or explain myself to you” but I don’t cos I don’t want to upset people.
We all have a need to be liked but if the price tag is that we don’t feel we have the space to simply be ourselves, or that we have to accept abuse or be denied affection then the cost is too high.
As I grow into my mature self I am getting better at just telling people to piss off, even if they don’t like me as a result, but it doesn’t come easily. I made it perfectly clear, in a polite way, to my neighbour who told me I looked old and disease riddled that her comment was unacceptable and she needed to apologise, yet she has not and now she isn’t speaking to me, like I’m the one who’s done something wrong. And that’s OK. It makes it awkward to live right next to her when we don’t speak, but being nasty then not apologising is her choice and I have no influence over that. And in future, if someone leaves a comment on my blog that is irritating or frustrating I simply won’t reply to it. I have to stop justifying myself to others or worrying about what other people feel, and worry more about how *I* feel. Which feels selfish but I think is necessary.
I’ve never really been a girlie girl. I’m not pink and fluffy and am quite blokey in my approach to life, which I know some women find abrasive “(get over it” my new self would comment 😉 ), while others feel the need to challenge me and make it obvious they don’t like me (not sure what the intention is there – maybe they think I’ll buy a new personality on Ebay, a nice pink fluffy one they find less irritating). All of which washes totally over my head because I’m finally at the stage where I quite like myself, warts and all. I’m fact, if I could just stop trying to justify myself to other people I’d actually be fucking awesome in a ranty, hormonal, lacking in table manners and personal hygiene kind’ve way 😉 Actually, when I think about it, if I didn’t know me I’m not sure I’d want to know me, but I’m stuck with myself so maybe my next step in personal growth is to learn to bathe more.