I am a people pleaser
There I said it. It’s out there. And now we all know it. I am a people pleaser. I bend myself backwards and tie myself in knots to help everyone and anyone until I’m nothing but an overly exhausted husk. An empty shell of stress, anxiety and depression. I will not fight you. I will not challenge you and I will not blame you.
But even with that I will resent you, I will hate you, I will distance myself from you. I will cry, I will rage and then after all that I will smile and say sure!! And you know what? You’ll think it’s great, I’m an awesome friend. Always there, always reliable, always steady. Still you haven’t noticed that my smile drops with every favour, my eyes glaze over with pain with every conversation. You haven’t seen me break because I don’t think you’d handle that. You’ve never seen me weak because that’s not our relationship.
And I let you take of me at will because I’ve made myself believe it’s a noble and unselfish way of being. I’m a caretaker – I say – a mothering figure. I have a large kind heart and I should help people.
And eventually that’s all I became to you and everyone else. That steady caretaker that holds your secrets, let’s you tell your lies, and will forever do the work for you.
The worst thing is that I enabled you to treat me this way for so long that when that proverbial straw breaks that back. You will think that I’m crazy, that I am being mean, that I don’t love you anymore. And then it happens. You look all depressed or angry and say something like “ it’s was only a small favour don’t have a cow about it” or “fine, I won’t ask for help again” or “come on it’s not that big a deal. You’re so dramatic”
Then my brain becomes your ally. ”It really isn’t that big that big an ask” it’ll whisper and my heart with start pounding. ”They’ll think you don’t care” it’s like a sharp knife twisting. ”How can you be so selfish? It’s not like you’ve got anything important to do”.
It’s seriously sickening. I have literally taught my brain and body to put your needs above mine! It’s crazy and you still haven’t noticed. So with a heavy sigh, and an empty promise to myself ”it’ll be the last time, I swear!”, I take your task and I do it. I die a little more inside and I hate you a little more and yet it continues.
You aren’t even the only person to do this either. Family, friends, colleagues, hell even strangers take advantage of this personality trait of mine. Take take take and I give give give. I stand quiet where you would be screaming. I stand strong where you would bleed out from the stress and I do it all with a smile and a silent scream.
Then I begin to change. I learn that saying no is ok. I learn that I don’t have to explain. Most of the time these things still happen I will still explain, I will still say yes even though I shouldn’t. I will not say anything because I’m learning a 30 odd year old habit and way of thinking is hard damn work to change. And so you’ll notice that I don’t really get along with someone that I spoke to everyday. Or that the texts you send me get answered a little less quick then before; or you won’t and I’ll eventually fade out of your life like a forgotten childhood toy. You are, after all, so busy and have so many things going on that the quiet friend that doesn’t go drinking with you becomes a memory.
Or maybe it’ll seem like I’m dispensable. After all the next person probably has more to offer you then what I did. The point is that eventually I won’t be there and wether you noticed or not. I will most definitely feel it.
I gave you my loyalty, I loved you, I put you first every time and then I was nothing to you the very second I honestly needed you most. After all, that time you lost that promotion or that loved one I took that burden from you. I held your hand and caught your tears but you thanked someone else. That’s ok, I know I helped you.
But I said no, so I deserved it right? My brain thinks so. My heart hurts and I hear you telling the new friend that I didn’t help you when you needed me to. I hear them tell you that I was an awfully selfish friend. That I obviously didn’t care. They are so sympathetic to you and your needs. I’m now nothing but a bitter memory. It’s ok I understand. Life isn’t fair and I should’ve been a better friend,
You never saw how I handled that family members death, Did you even notice? I bet you never knew my daughter was sick? Did you know I had a daughter? You probably did after all we were friends. Best friends as you would tell it.
So now I sit alone with my thoughts, my emotions swirling. I feel all that anger and resentment. I want to scream and hate you but I honestly can’t. If you called me tomorrow and said “help me” I probably would. Because I would need to prove to you that I’m still good, that I still love you, that you’re important. But I won’t call you now as I lie in my bed with the worst thoughts circling my mind and an emotional storm ravaging my body and soul. Because I wouldn’t want to burden you. I wouldn’t want you to deal with my pain. I’m stronger then that anyhow. People suffer more then me on the daily. I should feel grateful for what I have.
But, I’m changing now you know. I’ll probably always want to help everyone and work myself into that empty husk again to do it. But I’ll also learn that I can’t give something from an empty cup without first filling it. I will learn that you don’t need an explanation. I need a break that’s it. That’s all. I owe you nothing. I will always want to give it because I don’t want you to hate me. But I don’t need to.
Because all this has taught me is that the friends worth having, the people worth keeping. They won’t care if I can’t make it. They understand that life can be a bit much sometimes and we all need some space. The best thing about these people. When I decide to talk about it they will listen with understanding and they will accept that I need to be alone. They will hold my hand, or get angry on my behalf, or even plan the ultimate weekend away to help.
Because we get it.