I will never forget Laura's silky, long blonde hair that caught my eye when I walked into my first day of first grade. My mom LOVED my own silky, long blonde hair. I knew from her admiration of it when she would brush it every day, and comment on it, that it was a crowning and a desirable princess-quality feature. (If you look at the ends of the curls in the photo, you can see I formerly did have blonde hair!) So it was a natural thing for me, when I learned I could sit anywhere I wanted, that I chose to sit by Laura.
The problem was, that Laura already had a friend named Jodi who she wanted to have sit by her. Laura asked me to move.
I said "no."
At first, I said no. But life got hard for me. I don't remember how exactly. Details are elusive, but I remember a day or two in, I found myself caving to her craving. Giving up my seat to Jodi.
And guess what? Laura "friended" me after that. Yes. We were fast friends when I did what she wanted.
Hence, as a first grader, I learned that I had power. People-pleasing, get girls to like me power. Yes, at the age of five I learned it. Learned that if I did what people wanted me to do, I was loveable! I learned it at home too. I was pleasing to my parents. A hard-working oldest-child, farm-girl.
I did like to make my parents happy, especially my dad. I also liked for me to be happy around him. You see, my little sister after me, well she was often called "the naughty, curly-haired one." or "naughty with brown eyes."
I feared negative titles like that. I empathized with my little sister, knowing how it would make me feel to be "the naughty one". I remember that I also felt guilty for being contrasted to her. Then at other times I gloated inside~puffed up from praise.
That is the nature of the beast isn't it? The sinful-inside-of-me beast. I had it from birth. The self-protective self. The fearful-of-being-exposed-for-what-was-really-in-there lest-I-be (gasp) rejected-self.
Only one thing kept me from becoming beastly proud. Compassion. I had been given a tender heart. It kept me (somewhat) humble.
If you can imagine, and perhaps I even described you or someone you know, this pattern went with me wherever I went, whatever I did. I was a bonafide Performance-Based, Type-A personality. Do it right, do it well, keep yourself likeable. Keep people happy.
Inevitably I would feel rejected by people (obviously we can't please all the people all the time. I'd heard this, but I still had to learn it) and always, I looked inward...where had I failed? I came up with excuses, "too fat". "acne". "poor personality". So I aquired another issue: Self-blame. I became a self-reliant, self-blaming woman. And fear of failure or of rejection was my constant companion, my steady motivator to work hard.
Eventually I found there was a problem with my method. It showed up at times in my life when there were too many people to please, too many things to excell at. All at the same time. Through the years, bouts with anxiety would be the result of too many demands on myself. Too high of expectations.
I tried and tried... then I fried...and I died. (well, the part of me that was trying so hard died.) I found myself unable to help my sssself...
There I was at thirtysomething, sucked in to a pool of anxiety and I spun around in it for several (one of them hellish) years...groping and hoping for deliverance. Clinging. Tightly. Pursuing healing passionately. Fear FULL.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. Matthew 16:24
Posting Part 2 here...