I am a recovering pleaser. I swear, to actual G-O-D, I should wear a “HELLO, my name is…” sticker that says “Jacquie Goodwill, Recovering Pleaser” on it. Oh, the road to here was a long and messy one. I mark ‘then’ and ‘now’ and how far I’ve come in my journey – my life is so much better for it. Here’s what I’m about…there are no platitudes in my world. I will encourage you. I will share my sometimes inelegant journey to maybe inspire a better, smoother route for others.
It wasn’t all kittens and rainbows, that’s for sure.
First, I just got backed up against the wall by my mom – she’s gone now, and before she passed, she suffered a series of three strokes that I will always say “healed” her and rewired her actual brain, but that’s another story. Finally standing up to my mother was the actual hardest thing I did up to that point in my life. It got the proverbial ball rolling to heal my heart and soul and end the disease-to-please.
I say it was hard because no one is supposed to really defy their own mother. At least not in my family. I was labeled the ungrateful daughter and was vilified to everyone. In her defense, in her more lucid moments, she used to say, “You’re going to write one of those tell-all stories about me, like Joan Crawford, and people will call me Mommy Dearest.”
I promised my mom, I wouldn’t ever do that. Yet, there was a time that pleasing her kept me from being torn-the-fuck-up. There were definite benefits for backing her up and doing what my mom wanted or approved of. Now, when I’m really threatened by someone who has a lot of perceived power over me and who is trying to push me to do what they want me to do, I recognize it.
Today, I will breathe in then out, and consciously think ‘It’s okay, Jax, you don’t have to just roll over and say yes, to get along. Or, I think ‘Now, don’t freak out and go into fight-or-flight mode.’
Once I ended the day-in-and-day-out, living-to-please mentality, I chose to end my marriage. You would think that I would be on my way to recovery except for the fact that almost immediately after that I received my father. He landed in my lap as a poster child of co-morbidities, of heart failure and cancer. Oh, and he was penniless. Shocker. Whatever he was, whatever he’d done, he was still my father. And he was, at one point, the most encouraging and positive person in my dysfunctional family.
That says a lot.
So, I welcomed my dad with open arms and he lived with my young son and I. Over the next two years, I served as his primary caregiver. By the time he died, I was worn-the-fuck-out and I hadn’t really processed all that loss – whether it was the loss of my relationship with my mom, the ldeath of my father, or the ending of my marriage. I had to swallow some bitter pills that showed me my role in the dysfunctional family circus – the court jester, the referee, the ring master and definitely not the real, authentic me.
All of my growth and development had been put on hold while I took care of my dad. Not too long after he died, my industry went through a sea change and I lost or left a job three times in three years.
So, what do we do when the rules we lived by prove untrue? What happens when our expectation of what is supposed to happen when we DO the things and pray for the outcomes and swing for the fence – when all that falls apart?
Up until that point, I lived a fantasy. I believed that if I was good enough, perfect enough, nice enough, did enough for everybody else, they would all see what a good person I was and do (or not do) what would be best for me.
Sometimes, if whatever I was doing really did please them (whomever ‘they’ were). Sometimes whatever I did to fit in and get along worked for me (and them). I got lucky. Other times, I wore myself out pleasing and doing and nurturing and loving and caring for every. Fucking. Thing. Instead of me. Ahead of me. Hell, I didn’t even really know what it was that I wanted. I was just living to please and stay ahead of things – whatever those things were.
And, I owe those people and those experiences a great, big, fat Thank YOU.
I learned the absolute importance of giving ZERO FUCKS.
Giving ZERO FUCKS doesn’t mean we don’t care, at all. This means we figure out what really matters, most. When we know what matters most in our lives, we then give absolutely ZERO fucks about the things that really don’t. I could (and will) tell a tome on the way to figure out what really matters and what to give absolutely ZERO fucks over…
Once you know, for sure, what does or doesn’t matter to you, everything gets a LOT easier. And funnier. Like LOL, funny.
Enter ZERO FUCK FRIDAYS…
Someone wants you to do, or say, or give or perform some mental or emotional death-defying feat. Something you know goes 100% against what matters most to you (whatever that is).
And on Fridays, among our formerly domesticated, Feral Housewives’ group, part of our recovery includes observing ZFF! t’s recited like a mantra and serves as a weekly reminder: All HAIL ZERO FUCK Fridays! Let the games begin! Laugh out loud, and at the hilarity of it all. Once we know what matters, the silly things that don’t are funny!
What does or doesn’t matter is different for me than it might be for you. You can sometimes write your name in the layer of dust on my furniture. My kitchen floor is made of a variegated colored tile so the need to clean it is not as often apparent. But don’t you dare let my car get dirty. Oil changes, vacuuming, and cleaning that yucky film off the inside windshield is a weekly priority for me.
What’s (really) important to you? If you don’t know, kick start some Question Energy and figure it the fuck out.
After that, keep in regular practice. As a recovering pleaser, I’m so grateful for Zero Fuck Fridays to remind myself what really matters. I hope the same, for you.