Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Recovering Approval Addict Extraordinaire

I ran into a long time acquaintance recently and was paid a compliment on my writing. He had read my blog for the first time and commented with a raised eyebrow, that I was a very talented writer. This guy is someone I've known for many years but only through another person. I replied saying thank you and headed off on my way. In thinking about the compliment later I couldn't help recognize the look of surprise in the man's eye when he complimented me.

I thought long and hard about this. Something I rarely do. Sarcasm ;)

Once I determined that he was indeed surprised, my mind wondered why. I couldn't help wonder to myself, how had our mutual friend portrayed me? 

All of my life I've worried what people thought of me. I have always been the girl with the laundry list of explanations. It was important to me to share the why's of all of my decisions, my choices, my mistakes. 

Enter approval addict extraordinaire.

I couldn't help because....
I removed myself from this relationship because .....it was toxic, not to be hurtful.
I did this to take care of my children.
I did this to take care of myself.
Explanation
Explanation
Explanation

You understand, right? I'm a good person, right? You approve of me, right?

I always felt I needed to tell my side so I wouldn't be judged unfairly. This resulted in feeling frustrated and angry much of the time. I hated trying to explain myself all the time. At the time I saw no way out of the viscous cycle. I often heard the words, "Who cares what other people think? Your real friends know who you are."

But did they?  How could anyone know who I really am if I didn't know who I really am? 

And who did I think I was?

I was the baby.
I was the pathetic little girl in the middle
I was the little sister.
I was the girl with the "mentally retarded" sister.
I was his girlfriend.
I was his ex girlfriend
I was his wife.
I was every single label anyone I met defined me as.

The truth is that it is impossible to let go of what other people think of you when you have let other people define you.

On some level I was drinking the kool aid. I was giving away my power. Inside my own self, I must have believed I was all of the things I was imagining people would say if I didn't give them my laundry list of explanations.

It was exhausting.

Excuses and explanations are red flags to stop and look at what you really believe about yourself. It's never about the other person. It's always about you.

It is much easier to let go of what others may think of you when you get clear on what you think of you.

In order to do that you have to have the courage to put yourself out there and tell your story. You have to have the courage to tell the world who you are. 

I am a writer. 

Who are you?

Such a simple truth. Such a long time to learn it.