For more than five decades, I lived for everyone else and never noticed how unhappy it made me, until I found out my husband was frequenting strip clubs to the tune of 6 figures in credit card debt.
Here’s how my years went:
Hustle at work. Try to keep everyone happy.
Do everything I can to be an amazing mom and wife.
Drop in bed exhausted and do it again the next day.
I was my own worst critic – tell them before they criticize me.
I rationalized I had had my fun and now it was my son’s turn.
I rationalized I had “everything” and how could
I be so ungrateful to be unhappy.
I rationalized I had to continue making more and more money, even though there
was a deep hole in my soul.
By all outward appearances, I had a great life. Inside was a different story.
You are here right now for a reason. There are no accidents.
You have a pretty good life by most standards. You’ve lived your life playing by the rules, doing all the things you “should”. You’ve been responsible and strong, on top of things, until now. Something has changed in your life and many of the feelings you have been working so hard to keep down and out of sight are coming at you big time.
And this sucks! It feels really bad.
All of a sudden you’ve come face to face with yourself and you just don’t know what to do. You have no idea what you really want and you are at a loss .. for what you really want and need right now.
You wonder why at this age you have no clue what you want. You think about jobs … bleh. You think about another relationship… but you don’t want the pain and hassle of the last one again. You think about volunteering or hobbies, maybe try a few things with fleeting distraction.
Why don’t I know what I want? I am smart, have done a lot, and I have a lot of life still to live. WHAT DO I REALLY WANT? What’s wrong with me?
Here’s what I want you to know… lean in with me here:
- This is perfectly normal. It is not unique to you nor is it unusual. I totally “get” that you feel all alone in this, but trust me, you are not alone.
You are NOT broken. You do not need fixing. There is NOTHING WRONG with you.
Most women are programmed to live for everyone else. See, it’s not even your fault!
That programming wasn’t intentional, but somehow you got the message that it was better to put your needs, dreams, and desires on the back burner and be there for everyone else. Any time you mentioned wanting something, did you hear “me, me, me… all you think about is yourself?”
How does that happen? My mom was a loving narcissist, which means she had no capacity for empathy or emotions, but she did have a complete sense of responsibility for “caring” for us physically. Her life and caring about us was all about her. We had to behave so that people thought she was a good parent. She had to scold us in public so people could see she was “doing a good job”. And on and on…
Whether you had a narcissistic parent, an alcoholic parent, or an emotionally immature or chaotic parent, chances are you learned some of the same things.
Let’s see… did you learn:
- Not to ask for things
- Not to get upset
- Not to brag
- Play nice
- Be seen and not heard
- What’s wrong with you
- It’s better to give than receive
- Be a good girl
- What will the neighbors think
- Pleasing your parents was the best way not to be in trouble
- I must be responsible for my mom’s/dad’s pain, suffering, anger
- I have to do everything right and perfect to be loved
On the flipside, what we didn’t learn:
- How to love yourself
- How to think
- To put yourself and what you wanted as a priority
- To dream of a future you’d love
- That you are capable of far more than you know
- To believe in yourself
And now that you are grown, what you did learn is still running your life in not so subtle ways.
Ask yourself: is it hard for me to ask for what I want directly? Is it hard for me to ask for help? Do I often suffer in silence, alone? Am I emotional and don’t show it?
Do I proudly think of myself a giver? Do I proudly call myself a survivor? Do I tend to rescue people from painful situations or emotions? Am I proudly a private person “dealing” with things internally by myself?
Do I pretend to be happy when I feel sad, unhappy, angry, hurt? Do I care what other people think about what I say and do?
Do you allow yourself to “please” others before allowing yourself to “please” yourself? Do you not speak up when you want, holding back to not rock the boat?
You can be honest here with yourself. No one else is going to see this. I know that even admitting this to yourself will be very difficult, as you probably never saw yourself this way. I know I didn’t.
I so get you. Being the strong one was my badge of honor and my shield from my own feelings for over 4 decades.
I took on the role of the strong one emotionally at 5 years old when my dad died. I wore that badge proudly as a young adult. I was so strong I would take on emotions to “save” others from the pain, proud that I could. Anyone else’s anger or disappointment, geez I must have done something wrong, let me fix it.
Forty some years later, that badge of honor nearly cost me my marriage
2. You are not alone.
The next thing I’d love for you to know today is that you are not alone, in case you didn’t catch that in number 1 above!
So many women have similar yet different version of this pattern of living life for others going on, and don’t even realize it until they get their big wakeup call or until something major in their lives changes.
When you are truly honest with yourself, you can track back signs and symptoms that were there before, that you ignored or shoved back down.
You will see the busy-ness of your corporate career, your child raising, your constant needing people around, our unnecessary shopping, eating, drinking, sex, drugs, bonbons, working out, participating in other people’s drama that kept your focus off yourself and how bad you felt at your core.
Distraction after distraction worked for year, and felt pretty good as it kept you from facing and dealing with your own “SH*T”.
3. How living this way has brought you to this moment
Again I want you to know you are not alone!
When living your life for others, unraveling their painful emotions, you ignored your own. You understood many things intellectually, but when it came to integrating what you knew intellectually, you had no idea how to do that. You had no role model for this behavior.
I taught my son early on to ask for what he wanted, yet in my own marriage, I was passive aggressive on that, putting out hints and getting upset that my husband couldn’t read my mind! That sounds so crazy now as I write this. I NEVER learned to ask for what I want. To this day, my mom still cannot do it.
If you grew up in an angry household, you learned to do things to either avoid the angry person or shape your behavior to try and please the person, again to avoid the anger. You had no clue that you were and are never responsible for another person’s anger.
If you grew up never feeling like you could do anything right, you became an over-achiever to avoid criticism and to be loved. You did not realize you were worthy of unconditional love and going for what you wanted just because you were born.
If you grew up worrying about what other people thought of you, you lost sight of who you really are in order to be liked or appreciated or thought of in a certain way. What other people think is none of your business. Chance are, what you think they are thinking is wrong anyway.
You went out of your way to please others to avoid rejection or criticism. Each time you did this you gave away a piece of your self-esteem.
You held your feelings in so as not to be a burden to your parents. As a result, you grew up as a “strong on the outside” people-pleasing, pretending, over-achieving version of the adult who has not dealt with her SH*T and is now wondering if this is all there is.
4. You are HUMAN, living your life as you go. The really cool thing about us as a species is that we are the only species (that we know) who can observe our own thoughts.
Why does this even matter? As a human being, you have choices in how you think, feel, and act. It starts by noticing what you are noticing – your thoughts and how you feel.
You can choose to stop shoving the feelings down, let them out, and start noticing them, feeling them, and allowing them to pass through you. All these feelings are based on beliefs from your childhood, playing out in the present by the stories you are telling yourself.
The patterns that you created as a child that are running your life can be changed so that you get results in your life that you actually want.
5. You can totally turn this around, find what matters most to you, and fill yourself to your core and finally feel like you are living YOUR life, a life you love instead of life living you… if you really want it.
You are here now by Divine Appointment. Something brought you to this page, to me.
How would it feel to wake up each day excited about your life and all the possibilities it holds?
How will it feel to lay your head down at night and not rehash experiences or conversations you had during the day because you did the best you could and don’t care what they think?
How will it feel to be confident and certain in your own actions and decisions, doing it all from a place of what you love because you know with certainty who you are and what matters most to you?
How will it feel to be contributing your gifts and talents in a way that lights you up instead of draining you because you have made yourself and your needs and desires your priority?
How will it feel to finally step into the YOU that you are proud of, that knows her SOUL, that truly Loves herself and shows up in the world so in touch with who she is and what she wants?
I know you can have this and more… if you really want it.
Hi! I am Susan. I used to be the good girl, the responsible one, the strong one.
Today I am Susan, a free spirit unleashed again, to guide you on your own path to waking up to the truth of who you are, who you are no longer, and what you really, really, really want in order to live a life you absolutely love.
I am part Spiritual Coach, part Mindset Coach, and part DreamBuilder Coach. I will help you stop living from all the voices (rules and should) in your own mind and actually go for what matters most to you, shift the patterns of thinking and beliefs that got you where you are, and then tap into the life you would love to live and go for it.
I believe in you!