Thursday, January 28, 2010

"Who's Driving the Bus?"

Well, I have Kat, of Kat’s Adventures in Dietland, to thank for the inspiration in my blog today: In her post yesterday, she was talking about how she hungers for lots of followers on her blog, and her other posts, because that equates to getting an A+, and she realized that high grades are very important to her because they make her feel validated (or “good enough” in my words); and further, that the same thinking carries over to her “grades” on the scale. She needs that A+ ( a big number on the scale) for her dieting efforts: that stamp of approval, saying she has done well. These were two very important insights for her. And it was very inspired thinking, I think, because it really helped me to have an epiphany, as well!
I, too, have spent my whole life looking for approval from others, I too, have hungered for connection with other human beings; I longed to have people in my life who could tell me that I was OK, and that I was enough, and that I’d done well; people who would encourage me. Unfortunately, much of the time I not only did not get that, but got opposite messages instead: I wasn’t acceptable as I was; and the messages I carried away were deeply damaging: I was somehow deeply flawed, my inability to be the weight that I was “supposed” to be, my inability to have “will power”, my failure to look like the girls in the magazines, all summed up who I was as a human being, and it wasn’t a good grade, that’s for sure. And what bigger way to fail is there than as a human being?
The biggest consequence of not measuring up was that, in my mind, I was therefore not lovable. Every pound that I gained was like another arrow at my self-esteem; every bathing suit that I could not wear; every pair of jeans that I couldn’t get into; every meaningful look of pity, was a wound that dug deep and left scars.
So, even though today I am a grown-up, in charge of my own life, no longer dependent on the approval of others for my very survival, I have internalized those messages so that they reverberate through my daily life; still like, a child, I hunger to be loved, to be approved of, to be good enough, to be acceptable. I am embarrassed to say how old I am and still being motivated by these desires.
Sometimes living for approval comes in handy, that obsessive-compulsive approach to dieting can bring a lot of determination and tenacity. But, unfortunately, it’s like building a house of cards; sooner or later, they tumble. If my house isn’t built on solid ground, it will collapse. If my motivation is about pleasing you, then all the self-will in the world will not see me to my goal.
Today, I try to remember that the across-the-board kind of approval I long for is a ghost of the past, irrelevant in my adult world. And to be honest, this insecure, afraid-of-her-own-shadow Jackie is only a very small part of who I really am. Sometimes she’s driving the bus, but still, she is really only a speck on the radar, compared to the healthy part of me. That part of me that knows her own worth; knows that I am worth it; knows that I am strong, and beautiful and just perfect, just the way I am.
I have to remember that even though that old wounded me wants to be in charge of making the appraisals of how well I’ve done, she’s not really qualified. Would I hand important life-affecting decisions over to a child? Of course not; so, gently I need to wrest the power out of her hands, and into mine, the grown-up. That grown-up who knows how to be patient, to be kind, to set realistic and feasible goals, and knows, that ultimately, I am the only person that I need to please. Also, that some people will like me, and others will not, but that’s OK; and that sometimes I will have great success, and other times, I will have opportunities for growth… and it’s all good.


  1. Wonderful post. I feel the same way. I have always needed that vaidation. Ahhh I am so needy!

  2. Glad I could 'inspire'. Awesome post! It's so wonderful when we start to SEE some of these things in ourselves. Only then can we begin to figure out the solution to living our best.

  3. Yes, and it's wonderful that we all have each other to help us see a little more clearly! Thanks to both Nikki and Kat.

  4. This is one of those posts that zinged me right between the eyes. Thank you so much for sharing it! You've given me lots to think about, and I appreciate it!

  5. Before my daughter and I got diagnosed (a year apart) I was a pleaser. Making other people happy, or feel better made me feel better. Now, it mostly exhausts me. Not the typical service to my family, but pleasing people. Going out of my way to please. I can't. But it leaves me adrift without my satisfying fill to my hole.

  6. Thank you Cammy and Journey, I really appreciate your response to my post. Journey, I know what you mean about how when we are dealt real problems in life, it sort of puts our need for approval in perspective, real fast. Our energy is suddenly taken up with things that really matter, and the craziness of losing all our strength to meaningless stuff is seen for what it is: useless! Thanks for sharing!