For what is a lifetime for many (certainly it was a lifetime for the male façade who was blogging here for so long), I looked to others for approval. I admit it as a problem drinker might at an AA meeting; I was a chronic fixer. Everyone else came first. Maybe it happened because, as a child, it seemed like the only way to make grownups stop being angry. I don't know for sure, but that is who I was. Some call it "a pleaser personality". Every day I remind myself that this is an issue and I must stay aware of it.
I looked for acceptance and when I wanted something for myself, it was alway vetted through that filter: Will this make others around me happy too? When things went wrong, I did the quintessentially Canadian thing and asked for forgiveness - I am sorry.
Two years ago, I already knew what I needed to do and who I needed to be, yet fear ruled my life. To be myself I would have to let others down - badly. Surprisingly, when I told the most important people in my life, my children, they told me straight out that they knew I would still be me, but happier and healthier. There was acceptance and no need for forgiveness. We were good. We are good.
Fear still ruled my life because my wife of many decades was terrified and disgusted by the prospects for her future with me as a woman in public. I wanted her to be ok; I wanted her to come along happily on this journey. But when she told me I will hate you if you do this thing, I froze and thought maybe I could put the life that had to be off a bit longer.
Friends who found out what was going on gave mixed reactions running the gamut from immediate acceptance to outright rejection. But those who spoke to my wife in private told her how disgusting it was and how she should just "take me to the cleaners" and divorce me. They were certain that as a woman I would be ridiculed and so would she. Some suggested that it would be dangerous; some might react violently against a transexual in such a small community. How could I do this to her?
I didn't do anything to her. I forgave and accepted myself. If nobody else in the world would forgive or accept me, it really didn't matter. I had to give myself permission to be myself. Once that was done, everything else was relatively easy.
Because I accepted myself, I acted naturally and confidently around everyone. That put them at ease and made interactions go well. I was not a target in the community.
If you have to break away from a life of maladaptive behaviour, begin by forgiving yourself for all the things you have done to others. Then forgive yourself for what you have done to yourself.
Accept and love yourself as you have accepted and loved others in your life for so very long.
People-pleasing is one activity that drives me up the wall - and then some! I was always too angry and cowed to do that. Was there something envious in me about that, I wonder? I don't know.ReplyDelete
What I do know, however, is that forgiving oneself, which entails a great deal of facing up to truth, is a painful activity that demands a great deal of courage. So we both, coming from different directions, as well as all those others who have travelled this road deserve one huge pat on the back.
Nice to hear from you again.
The process of self-examination and acknowledging the truths that were revealed took years in my case. What triggered the forgiveness? I do not know, but when that finally happened, I could move forward again.ReplyDelete
Imagine Tom, I thought there wasn't anything left to say here. Silly me.
And very well said it was.Delete
Thank you dear Coline.Delete
Firstly we must love ourselves. Secondly we must do for others out of a desire to please those we love and who reciprocally love us.ReplyDelete
We can't act based on fear of not pleasing others. That is maladaptive for sure.
So now you are on the threshold of the rest of your life, to be lived in love of self and others. Enjoy.
It is a new life for certain, in so many ways. Thank you Alice.Delete
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You had much the ssme type of start as I did in that you tried to please and fit in but in the process left yourself behind. Fear of rejection is the biggest hurdle we face and to some extent I still do suffer from it. But at a certain point in time we can no longer live for others and we become tired of living a pretend lifeDelete
We have to remember that it is essential to live for ourselves. If that means we are selfish, then so be it.Delete
I guess all of us to some degree look to others for approval, but of course as you say one can go overboard as is the case of the chronic fixer upper or go-to person when everyone else always comes first. But as you now seem to have arrived at a sensible balance, there is I suggest no reason why you don’t continue to err on the side of the "pleaser personality". I get the impression that might be a natural extension of yourself.
There is nothing wrong with the idea of vetting ideas through a filter: Will this make others around me happy too? So long as it is not based purely on a fear of how we will be perceived. Such a filter could have a potential to lead to a life lived to the fullest based on a service to others.
But in so doing and in extending our compassion in service to others that must equally extend to yourself.
By living an authentic life; following my instincts that is, it has chased away those who will be unhappy with those things that bring me pleasure. Those who are left are friends and lovers. I have found that there is no effort required to find ways to please them or myself.Delete
Strange as it seems, fear of hurting others has disappeared along with all pretence of maleness.
All the best to you too Lindsay