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: http://katdoesdiets.blogspot.com/ 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.