The author says: “Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.”
I not only suppressed my feelings, I wasn’t even aware that I had any! I’ve always had a positive attitude about life. I bloomed where ever I was planted. I did that by being aware of the needs of the people I loved. The people in my family, my friends and the people I worked with as well. I paid close attention to what it was “you” liked and what it was “you” disliked and lived my life accordingly. So, for many years I took extra good care of my children and my husband, my parents, and my friends. My life worked very well….all my dreams came true. I had a good husband and healthy children. We bought our first home in San Mateo and when we out grew that one we were able to buy a larger one in San Jose. I was very happy. After my husband’s first heart attack I went back to work and that was an added pleasure in my life. I was really complete. so I thought. Then my husband died and everything changed. Oh I still had a positive attitude. I was gracefully carried through the grieving process. When people came to me grief stricken and broken hearted I was able to uplift them and in the process uplift myself. It took me years to really grieve the losses in my life but at that time I did not grieve much at all. I had to be strong for my children and everyone around me. I was single for six years and then married a man with five children. By this time my children didn’t need me as much and I had lots of time to deal with myself. For the first time in my life I developed some physical disorders. I suffered severe headaches, constant lower back pain and digestive challenges as well. What I’ll share now is the thimble version of what happened. Over the next few years, through a series of workshops, some counseling, working a 12 step program and the care of a doctor, I discovered that I was codependent. For me what that means is I paid more attention to the needs of people around me than I did my own needs. I didn’t know what color I liked best, what kind of movies I liked best what restaurant I wanted to go to….oh wait a minute the truth is I knew o.k. but I would not voice an opinion at all….I just say what color would you like to paint the house, what movie do you want to see, what kind of food appeals to you today. Ignoring my needs and wants. Avoiding conflict as much as possible. Slowly but surely I started making changes. It took courage to speak my truth And…it took taming of the committee in my head. I had to look at and set boundaries for myself. I started saying no to everything. The funny thing is that when I said no even though I felt guilty, I felt free also. Then I would say, “ I want to think about that and get back to you.” Sometimes my answer was still no but sometimes it was yes. After taking time to think about my answer it became a heart felt, resounding yes! For many years I thought that being a “people pleaser” was an admirable way to live my life. I liked pleasing people it made me feel good and in control, until one day I was asked, “Anne how do you feel when people don’t do the same for you?” Well I can’t say that I became resentful but I sure was disappointed. That was an “aha” moment for me. I realize that I had ulterior motives. I also realized that I was going overboard for others because I wanted them to like me and do the same for me. When that did not happened I was very disappointed. Over the course of several years I started healing. With the support of many people who suffered the same way I did, I became more courageous, spoke my truth and I set firm boundaries. Learning to speak my truth, be in touch with my feelings and owning them is a skill and a process that is still going on today. It’s a skill that needs to be fine tuned along the way. Progress not perfection is my motto. Today once I become aware of a change that needs to happen and I achieve some success, I remind myself that there is more work to be done. I realize today that I can never reach perfection here on planet earth and once I gained that insight, I was in a better position to tame the committee, and step upon the next rung of the spiritual ladder. There I meet the next challenge. There is always more work to do and more is revealed, when we are ready, and if we are open to growing and changing. For me that’s the only way to live on planet earth. I realized that you can’t just blurt out what you think and feel. My prayer became “Lord help me to speak my truth and share my feelings from my heart.” I would know right away if I was not being loving by the sound of my voice and or the reaction I received from whoever I was talking with. That’s when the adjustment came in. I was then led and am still today, to paying attention to my words and my tone of voice. I when I fall short of my ideal I adjust my attitude and apologize. Today my greatest challenge is with customer service people. Just yesterday I wanted to cancel a credit card that I no longer wanted to use. I had to apologize several times during the course of our conversation. These poor people are expected to review all the benefits you will miss by canceling and on top of that they are required to ask many questions of you before they can cancel your card. I wanted to get on with it! I became very impatient, my tone imparted impatience and rudeness. That poor woman took a verbal beating from me just for trying to do her job. When the fog of frustration cleared in my mind I took a deep breath, my heart softened and I apologized. My apology was heart felt and she understood where I was coming from but…… my goal is not to sound that way any more. O.K. so what do I do now. Well I don’t let the committee beat me up and I look at and honor the progress I’ve made, especially with my husband. I’ve had lots of opportunities to to adjust my attitude and change my conversations with him. Over time….like about 34 years as of July 2nd, I can say and he will attest, that I have more times when I am patient and fewer times that I have to apologize.
Remember “Progress not Perfection,” is our goal.
My heartfelt love goes out to each of you. May you experience much peace, love and joy today and everday….Anne