In the past few days I’ve been thinking about that movie Runaway Bride. The part of the movie that struck me the most was when Richard Gere’s character exposes the bride, Julia Roberts’ character, for not asserting her wants and needs. He tracks down her past fiancés and asks them all how she likes her eggs cooked. In all cases she ‘likes’ her eggs cooked the same way as all her men.
She is probably like me in that she tries to please everyone so she just goes along with what other people want. I remember having arguments with my husband about how holidays are always centered around what he wants. But I never learned to ask for what I want. As part of my healing journey, I’ve just discovered the real reason for my weak sense of self. My needs don’t matter, my feelings don’t matter and I don’t matter. Through the behavior of my parents at the age when our sense of self is developed, I was forced to focus on emotional survival and the developmental steps in forming a sense of self, got neglected as a result.
Maslow’s Heirarchy of Needs shows that self actualisation and even self esteem cannot be achieved if the foundation is not in place. I didn’t feel safe to be myself I didn’t have a sense of being supported, loved and belonging. My husband’s parents did give him this sense of safety and belonging. They believed in him and they let him form a healthy sense of self. I think he can’t understand how someone would keep putting their needs last all the time.
I’ve always struggled to be assertive and was indoctrinated with the fact that other people’s needs are always more important than mine. Consideration for others has always been primary. I get so anxious when I’m late because keeping other people waiting is the epitome of selfishness. Putting myself first feels selfish and that was a cardinal sin in the eyes of my mother.
I’ve probably subconsciously been sending the message that I don’t matter to all around me. No wonder people don’t respect my boundaries. Through my behavior, I’ve taught them that my needs don’t matter. When becoming a mother this gets amplified as there are now other people literally sucking off you for survival. Being a mother means a lot of sacrifice and I have given to the point of complete exhaustion. I don’t insist that I get what I need. And that leads to a lot of resentment and unhappiness. But the tricky part is that I’ve done it for so long that I have difficulty even knowing what I want, let alone asking for it.
With all the healing modalities that I’ve experienced on my recovery journey I have received a lot of input. I also read a lot on the subject of personal growth. Much of the advice is to be authentic. But the authentic me was the one that got taken advantage of. That was the Kathy who gave until she imploded. So who must I be now? I find it hard to start building a sense of self that should have formed around age seven. How do I even go about repairing this damage?
It has become really apparent that I won’t heal from Graves’ disease until I deal with my emotional ‘shit’. I’m unravelling all the damage done in my childhood and it’s hard. I learned to suppress emotions, feelings and opinions because I didn’t feel safe. Now I have to face all the memories and emotions in order to get to the other side of this illness. And it’s hard, so very hard.
I now have to figure out how to be and how I like my eggs. And I need to learn to ask for them that way. I’m acutely aware that those around me will have some trouble with the adjustment. They are not used to me caring for myself. They are not used to me insisting that I get what I need and putting myself first. But it has become so essential for my survival that I have no choice.Follow me: