I’m a recovering people pleaser.
I thought for a while that it was just in my nature, my genes even.
My parents are good people.
Like, really good, give-you-the-shirt-off-their-backs good. I was raised watching them help when they could, nurturing and taking care of others.
So I did the same.
I’m not saying I’m some Mother Theresa who let my heart and hands bleed for the good of every person I’d ever met. I definitely didn’t. I did used to joke that I was the meanest nice person you’d ever meet.
A large portion of my adult interpersonal relationships had been flooded with phrases like “sure, that’s fine” or “whatever you want to do”.
Every job I have ever had, too, has been caring for others in some way. Retail and office jobs aside, waitressing, personal assistant, nanny; the reward for me was monetary, but the reward for the other half, endless.
It was just who I was.
It might not have anything to do with my weight.
[you know I’m going to tell you that now I think it did; at least maybe a little bit]
A few years ago I was working for a woman who was pretty put together and had lost her husband the year or so before. I met her and her kids and decided that it sounded like a good fit, and accepted her offer.
On my very first day, while she was showing me around their neighborhood and explaining what the duties might entail, I said, in no uncertain terms “Whatever you need”.
And for more than three years, I stuck to that.
I stuck to it when it interfered with my own plans.
I stuck to it when it seemed unreasonable.
I stuck to it when people would roll their eyes.
I stuck to it when I didn’t want to.
I stuck to it to the point that I was stuck.
Don’t get me wrong she was fine, and took excellent care of me. In retrospect, if I was doing it without complaint, why not let me.
It was during my time with her that I started going to the Weight & Wellness center, going through the process. It was about six months after my weightloss surgery that I would finally give my notice and think only [at least for a moment] about myself.
I also remember a time when my boyfriend and I were hosting a traveling model and her husband for a night. I made everyone breakfast; like a serious, scratch biscuits, eggs, juice, fruit, coffee situation. I served them, and ate while I was cleaning up.
After the third or so time that I checked on them, the husband says “Hey yea I need something, how about you sit down and hang out, you don’t have to serve us, geez!” We joked about me being a people pleaser, about me being a Libra and then he basically said “Well cool, but get over it and sit the fuck down”.
I didn’t ever want to rock the boat. Maybe if I just went with the flow and was nice and sweet and good to everyone they wouldn’t notice. If I could be mostly true to who I thought I was, but make myself just small enough to blend in… maybe I could distract them from my big mouth, my big personality, my big body.
It could totally be because I’ve gotten older and gotten more comfortable with myself as a result, and that’s probably the bulk of it.
But humor me that it could also be the shift in my self esteem (which I never thought was low, ironically!)… That with the weight that bothered me (and in my opinion held me back in some ways) gone, and the increase in my self esteem, my clearer view of my value as a friend, a girlfriend, a woman, a person; I’m less willing to say yes to others, if doing so means I have to say no to me.