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Old 02-25-2017, 06:45 AM
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How well do you know yourself?

One of the struggles I'm having as I work through recovery is recovering from people pleasing. I never really knew who I was and I still struggle with it today.

I was taking a personality test (Meyers Briggs) and I often had trouble even knowing how to answer questions and had to literally ask myself, "Is this really true for me? Would I really say this about myself?" And, oftentimes, I didn't even know the answer truthfully....in my core. I could guess or I could say, "Yeah, that sounds good." But, was it real for me and was it truly how I would think or feel about something?

I was such a people pleaser for so long and still am to some degree. My bf once said that I needed to stop trying so hard and that he just wanted me to just be me. That I didn't need to be somebody else just to please him or someone else.

Well, I don't know how to do that sometimes. I wish I knew myself and trusted myself better. I feel like I fight an inner battle. Knowing that my alcoholic father is dead and that I don't have to fight for his approval anymore and that I'm not married to an alcoholic anymore, as well.....But, yet, all the people pleasing and thinking that I'm not enough and that I'll never be enough for anyone still comes creeping back in.

And, then I wonder if what I'm putting out there in the world isn't really me? Am I being authentic? And, what does that even really look like in normal interactions? Honestly, I wish I knew.
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Old 02-25-2017, 07:06 AM
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Hey, lizatola. It took many, many years for me to push through the negative stuff I had with my dad. I came to be happy in my own skin. Don't really know how that came about. Being active in an amazing Al-Anon group opened a lot of doors in my head. I also journalled in longhand. Somehow the physical writing unlocked things that I had been holding on to a long, long time. Name it and claim it, you know?
Anyway, as I came to feel more peaceful, a lot of my resentment faded.
Dunno if that helps. Peace.
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Old 02-25-2017, 07:10 AM
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Wellllll, honestly this is why I am always spouting about being alone for a long time when one enters recovery from codependency. About purposely avoiding relationships so you can focus on yourself and who you are when you are alone.

One CAN grow and learn about oneself in a relationship, for sure. But it's a lot harder and a lot more confusing, especially when you don't have a strong foundation of self to begin with.

I'm not advocating breaking up with your BF, but you have to know going into it that the work you want to do to discover who you really are is much more complicated and difficult when you are in a relationship.
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Old 02-25-2017, 07:21 AM
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Liz.....at the risk of sounding "textbook"....I will give this a stab.
I suspect that extreme people pleasing has it's roots in early childhood development....when basic feelings of self worth and self esteem establish roots.
especially, if one has had a chaotic childhood or abuse (especially sexual abuse).
One might have to dig deep into the Family of Origin stuff, in order to get to the heart of it. Of course, that requires a special professional, trained in this area...not just any ole counselor or therapist....Often, there is a deep shame..and a feeling of not being "good enough", at the core....That can take some deep digging to get to...
Also, someone cannot just snap a finger and have good "self esteem"....one has to have esteem building experiences as an adult...just like a kid does....
It is through experience...not just intellectual awareness, alone, that one builds self confidence and self esteem....

What does it look like /feel like?
this is what I think....When you can do what feels natural without anxiety about it....(most of the time, anyway)...
And, when you can walk into a room of strangers and the first question that you ask yourself is: "Do I like them"....not..."Do they like me"......
***by the way...you do not have to like..every...body....That isn't natural...

You have only been away from the relationships that damaged your self for a short while...compared to the decades that you marinated in them.....
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Old 02-25-2017, 07:47 AM
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Originally Posted by SparkleKitty View Post
Wellllll, honestly this is why I am always spouting about being alone for a long time when one enters recovery from codependency. About purposely avoiding relationships so you can focus on yourself and who you are when you are alone.

One CAN grow and learn about oneself in a relationship, for sure. But it's a lot harder and a lot more confusing, especially when you don't have a strong foundation of self to begin with.

I'm not advocating breaking up with your BF, but you have to know going into it that the work you want to do to discover who you really are is much more complicated and difficult when you are in a relationship.
Thank you SparkleKitty! I always love when you share with me.....

You know, what's funny? My first sponsor did exactly what I did. She divorced her XAH and then got right into a relationship. She often told me that she wished she had waited but that things just unfolded as they did and 2 years later she married him. They've been together now for about 18 years but she used to tell me, "Just because I'm not married to an alcoholic, doesn't mean it was easier. I still had so much work to do on myself." Well, newbie to program that I was, I didn't hear much of what she said really. I was like, "What's her problem? She got out. She was free from living with an alcoholic. Isn't that what heals us?"

Oh....if I only knew then what I know now, right? I had to take me with me. My bf is a good man. We have a happy life but he knows I struggle with a lot of things and he keeps his 'comments and opinions' to himself unless I specifically ask. He truly believes I need to fail, I need to have those self esteem building experiences as Dandy mentioned, so that I can figure out just what I'm made of. Sometimes his intuition and his self confidence overwhelm me because I often wish I was more like that.

It's really freaking hard to work through years of damage and shame that have been weighing on my soul and then to be in a relationship as well. The good news is, my bf isn't needy. He understands if I need to work things out or if I get in my head and need peace. He's never jealous of other things that take my time. He does't demand things of me that I'm not capable or able to give. I have a lot of freedom in this relationship and I'm hoping that I don't have to break up with him, just to figure out my own crap, because that wouldn't be fair to him or to our kids.

I recently revealed to him my most painful childhood memory regarding being molested when I was 6 and 7 at my babysitter's house. I did years of therapy and still I carry around some deep subconscious things regarding the abuse. He had no idea and it took me 2 years to tell him about it. I don't feel that shame anymore but sometimes my mind and my soul and my body have walls up between themselves that I've never been free from and I honestly doubt I ever will be free from when it comes to this. I did hypnotherapy for it years ago and was able to face some of the challenges that came about from the abuse. I worked my steps around it at times, as well. I think that sort of pain hides deep in our subconscious and I'm not really sure freedom is in the cards for me. Acceptance has come and I no longer feel like it was my fault and that is OK with me today. As morbid as it sounds, sometimes I think death is the only way to heal our deep-seated subconscious pain. There are just some things that we will always carry with us and I've made peace with that.
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Old 02-25-2017, 10:31 AM
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Liz...I am going to go out on another limb, here....(well, a small branch)....
It pains me to hear you (or anyone else)...predict that they will never be able to overcome something....
We live to what we "believe" about ourselves. We listen to the "self talk" that we tell ourselves. Thing is, that we tell ourselves these things so often (usually from early childhood" that we do it on such automatic pilot that we are not even aware of it.....
Self talk is a powerful, powerful force, and we all do it...we say either self affirming or self depreciating things...every day...all the time.

If you want to be free....stop telling yourself that you won't.....
Don't sabotage yourself......
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Old 02-25-2017, 11:24 AM
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I've learned to ask myself questions:

What's my motive?
What's my part in this? for resentments

It helps to learn what's really going on inside.
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Old 02-25-2017, 11:34 AM
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Last night my dog was acting extremely anxious and agitated, so she kept me up all night. So to wile away the time I found a movie online called "Finding Joe" which was basically about the core of Joseph Campbell's The Hero's Journey.

I found so many useful insights there for getting through codependency and other relationship trauma. Also how to navigate your "hero's journey" and come out the other side.

http://findingjoethemovie.com

<iframe src="https://embed.vhx.tv/packages/10412" width="640" height="360" frameborder="0" webkitAllowFullScreen mozallowfullscreen allowFullScreen></iframe>

This does have a fee of 3.99, but I have a subscription to Gaia, so it was free.

I'm 65 and still feel I have a lot to learn in my journey.
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Old 02-25-2017, 11:52 AM
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Tried to attach the YouTube trailer but my time for editing ran out..
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yWi0BNmRShU
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Old 02-25-2017, 01:46 PM
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In high school I remember finding an old kindergarten report card. One of the comments was "ap052183 is very eager to please." Now I look back on that and cringe. My life has always been about making someone else happy. Now that I'm working on making myself happy it's actually made me fairly depressed. I literally don't know what the purpose of my life is. The other day in therapy I told my therapist that I wish someone would just tell me what to do. I do best when someone leads me in life. The funny thing is I've always been kind of a go getter. I'm really not a sit around and wait type. So I guess I have no idea what type I really am. It's hard to feel lost. I do believe with work this will change.
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Old 02-25-2017, 02:48 PM
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I can identify with the OP very much. I've felt for years, before I ever understood that STBXAH was an addict, before I had any clue about codependency, that I did not have much of a sense of self. It was very obvious to me that there was something lacking. I felt very envious of people who exuded self-assuredness, who knew who they were and what they wanted.

4 years ago I started seeing a therapist, and he helped me through some very difficult times, times when survival was the main goal. We were able to peel back a few layers during that time, but it was very slow going. Now that I'm out of crisis (but still in limbo), I can really get to working on ME.

I am taking this time, as long as I need, to be deliberately single because this is the first time in my entire life that I've had the opportunity to figure all this out, and I want to heal my life more than anything in the world.

I hear you on the Meyers-Briggs thing. I don't know how to answer a lot of the questions. I DO know that I'm very much introverted, and I think that I'm a feeler, but the other two are still somewhat of a mystery to me.
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Old 02-27-2017, 06:44 AM
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Wow liz, I could have written this exact same thing.

Hugs friend.
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Old 02-27-2017, 07:14 AM
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Hi Liz - You raise some really good questions, that I think for a lot of us are very difficult to answer. Especially if we are moving away from an unhealthy relationship, or grew up in dysfunction.

This logic may be a little backwards and not answer your questions. I had a lot of the same questions as you do when things were unraveling with XAH. At that time, I happened to take the Myers-Briggs test and began reading about my personality type. Over the next couple years, I learned *so much* about myself: why I reacted certain ways, what motivated me, what drained me, and probably most significantly, I learned how to relate to myself and others in a way that is authentic to me. This new way of relating - which feels so much better - was very different than how I had been relating in the past. I began to make sense *to myself*. That understanding allowed me to feel more comfortable within, which translated to feeling more comfortable outwardly. In addition, reading about other types helped me to understand the thought processes of other important people in my life.

If some of the questions in the MB were difficult to answer, I have found that this graphic makes the categories very broad but easy to understand. Maybe do some reading (Pinterest is great for that) and see what feels right for you. If the graphic doesn't post, you can search for "4 Question Practical Guide to MBTI".
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Old 02-27-2017, 08:02 AM
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Originally Posted by SparkleKitty View Post
Wellllll, honestly this is why I am always spouting about being alone for a long time when one enters recovery from codependency. About purposely avoiding relationships so you can focus on yourself and who you are when you are alone.

One CAN grow and learn about oneself in a relationship, for sure. But it's a lot harder and a lot more confusing, especially when you don't have a strong foundation of self to begin with.
^^This, a million percent.

I've said this so many times around here I'm sure you're all tired of hearing it. It can almost seem too simple.

If you want to develop Self love, Self respect & Self trust, the common denominator is spending time with yourSelf, intimately, the way you do with any other person when you are trying to develop a relationship.

One obstacle is that internally, we fight far more judgments & assumptions than we do in external relationships. We don't THINK so, but I can promise it is true for 99% of us. We've spent years developing these patterns of denial & judgment-based thinking & they masquerade strongly as personality traits a lot of the time. It gets very difficult to unwind WHO we are from WHERE we are.

Another big obstacle is (obviously) other people's demands for our time & attention - it takes away the amount of time we CAN dedicate to our own needs. There are only so many hours in the day, that's just math.....

The most common thing I see in people around me is that just when they start to dig into those hard issues they recoil in response to the pain/reality/awareness it brings & they back off from their recovery efforts. (not implying that this is you in any way) I have a friend that openly admits she knows she does this & says she's not sure if/when she'll feel ready to move on, she'd rather tread water.

To answer your OP - at the beginning of my recovery 5+ years ago, I probably knew myself about 20% fully. Now, I'd put that closer to 80% and rising. This is the part I've probably had the hardest time accepting - just exactly how much I didn't know about myself. We take personality tests every couple of years here at work & while many of my core traits have remained the same, there is also a marked change in areas that reflect my relationship to Self. It's noticeable to others in ways I can't control too - when my best friend visited last summer we hadn't seen each other in years. She marveled at how nothing has really changed & yet I somehow look completely different at the same time.

It's because I've spent 5 years unbecoming everything I was never meant to be in the first place & I'm quite literally shedding layers as I grow.
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Old 02-27-2017, 08:29 AM
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I don't have to fight for his approval anymore and that I'm not married to an alcoholic anymore, as well.....But, yet, all the people pleasing and thinking that I'm not enough and that I'll never be enough for anyone still comes creeping back in.
I think it has more to do with learned behavior then it does the A’s in our life. Because as you are witnessing once they are no longer part of the equation the sum remains the same, those behaviors still exist.

The more we build our self-esteem and confidence the less we need others approval.
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Old 02-27-2017, 09:25 AM
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FireSprite, I would be very interested in knowing more about your process, because your post really resonated with me. What kinds of things did you do to nurture and develop your true self?

I had a very dysfunctional upbringing that flowed right into marriage to an addict. My upbringing involved phrases like "deny yourself" and "empty yourself," teachings about not trusting yourself because your very core nature is sinful and unacceptable. My mother often told us that she hated us and called us "good-for-nothings."

IOW, the perfect recipe for a codie, and also to grow up without a CLUE about my true self.

I want mental and emotional wellness more than anything in the world. I am working very hard at it. And I am always interested in learning about ideas, methods, ways of thinking, etc in the recovery process.
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Old 02-27-2017, 10:49 AM
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Wow - I can so relate to all of this. Thank you for posting lizatola and everyone else for your insightful replies! I've got "Finding Joe" on my movie watch-list for this week now and I'm looking forward to it!

I am newly self-aware of my extreme people-pleasing and co-dependency issues, and it truly is very difficult to face. I feel like I've been letting life pass me by while I've just been along for the ride with whatever comes at me. I can't remember the last time I initiated plans with anyone... but when someone asks me to do something, I just do it without even considering if it's something I'm really interested in doing. When asked where I wanted to go for my birthday dinner last week, I was paralyzed with indecision. I tried to have others pick a place, but they insisted I chose. After - no joke - hours of research and Yelp reviews, I came up with a restaurant, one that I thought would be a good fit for everyone (insert eye roll here). I'm afraid I'm at the very beginning of a long journey of self-discovery...
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Old 02-27-2017, 11:05 AM
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OMGosh, what ISN'T part of my process?

I grew up without any idea that people really were responsible for identifying so much about themselves - my mother could have turned codependency into a profession so all of my early impressions of self were tied to what others thought of me. I learned how/who to "be" in response to those around me but we called it Love, Doing the Right Thing, etc. That screwed my wiring up fundamentally - my labels didn't match their definitions in any kind of reality.

Figuring out what I wasn't was often easier to identify at first. That helped me identify what I wanted to "drop" - like when I dug deep I realized that giving up being "in control" of every family holiday & gathering was easy because I didn't even really want it in the first place - I didn't give a flying fig about how anything happened. I didn't "need" control, but others around me certainly needed me to & I had been playing that Role for so long I no longer even questioned it. I was the oldest, the one in charge, the one plugging fingers in the dam left & right as a child & I continued it on into adulthood calling it strength & organization.

Uncovering all of those "little" things like this example was critical for me - not just in identifying the "issue" but the underlying feelings it triggered because *that* was really the core I needed to get to in order to break the habit from the inside out - how could I reprogram that "never enough" mentality? It's no joke when I say that I started to question every single question I faced in life - if you asked me whether I wanted vanilla or chocolate ice cream you'd have been surprised how long it took me to answer such a simple question because inside my mind it was like this ---> I'll never, ever forget one day in my early recovery when I needed to grab a fast dinner, solo, in between appts & the plaza I was at had 4 great options but I burst into tears at being completely unable to decide something SO BASIC for myself without another person there to influence my decision. It was a big AHA moment for me & all that I had been learning about codependency.

I do everything I can, on very level, for my mind, body & spirit because all 3 need to be healthy for my recovery to be strong. In the beginning I adopted a philosophy of "if not now, then when?" when faced with new ideas, new projects, new interests.

I've shared so much in these threads, it might be easier to link than to try to recreate the wheel here, lol. These are kind of random & in no specific order:

http://www.soberrecovery.com/forums/...f-respect.html

http://www.soberrecovery.com/forums/...i-missing.html

http://www.soberrecovery.com/forums/...uper-long.html

http://www.soberrecovery.com/forums/...covery-me.html

http://www.soberrecovery.com/forums/...self-talk.html

http://www.soberrecovery.com/forums/...-recovery.html

http://www.soberrecovery.com/forums/...buzzwords.html

http://www.soberrecovery.com/forums/...very-long.html

(my first post, lol) http://www.soberrecovery.com/forums/...thank-you.html
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Old 02-27-2017, 11:07 AM
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It sounds like you have a great guy now who is actually allowing you to be yourself. I too struggle immensely with people pleasing to a very unhealthy degree that brings great distress whether I please or disappoint. I believe this stems from other partners not letting me "be me" and letting them dictate who I should be and not let me be who I really am.

Are you familiar with Pure O? It's a bit of a subset of OCD where instead of having any compulsions, those are absent and you just essentially have obsession. It sound awfully familiar to what you are saying. Almost like an obsession with second guessing who you are ("what if" thoughts). Anyway...wondering if you have struggled with OCD in your life at all.
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Old 02-27-2017, 07:58 PM
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Originally Posted by FireSprite View Post
OMGosh, what ISN'T part of my process?

I grew up without any idea that people really were responsible for identifying so much about themselves - my mother could have turned codependency into a profession so all of my early impressions of self were tied to what others thought of me. I learned how/who to "be" in response to those around me but we called it Love, Doing the Right Thing, etc. That screwed my wiring up fundamentally - my labels didn't match their definitions in any kind of reality.

Figuring out what I wasn't was often easier to identify at first. That helped me identify what I wanted to "drop" - like when I dug deep I realized that giving up being "in control" of every family holiday & gathering was easy because I didn't even really want it in the first place - I didn't give a flying fig about how anything happened. I didn't "need" control, but others around me certainly needed me to & I had been playing that Role for so long I no longer even questioned it. I was the oldest, the one in charge, the one plugging fingers in the dam left & right as a child & I continued it on into adulthood calling it strength & organization.

Uncovering all of those "little" things like this example was critical for me - not just in identifying the "issue" but the underlying feelings it triggered because *that* was really the core I needed to get to in order to break the habit from the inside out - how could I reprogram that "never enough" mentality? It's no joke when I say that I started to question every single question I faced in life - if you asked me whether I wanted vanilla or chocolate ice cream you'd have been surprised how long it took me to answer such a simple question because inside my mind it was like this ---> I'll never, ever forget one day in my early recovery when I needed to grab a fast dinner, solo, in between appts & the plaza I was at had 4 great options but I burst into tears at being completely unable to decide something SO BASIC for myself without another person there to influence my decision. It was a big AHA moment for me & all that I had been learning about codependency.

I do everything I can, on very level, for my mind, body & spirit because all 3 need to be healthy for my recovery to be strong. In the beginning I adopted a philosophy of "if not now, then when?" when faced with new ideas, new projects, new interests.

I've shared so much in these threads, it might be easier to link than to try to recreate the wheel here, lol. These are kind of random & in no specific order:

http://www.soberrecovery.com/forums/...f-respect.html

http://www.soberrecovery.com/forums/...i-missing.html

http://www.soberrecovery.com/forums/...uper-long.html

http://www.soberrecovery.com/forums/...covery-me.html

http://www.soberrecovery.com/forums/...self-talk.html

http://www.soberrecovery.com/forums/...-recovery.html

http://www.soberrecovery.com/forums/...buzzwords.html

http://www.soberrecovery.com/forums/...very-long.html

(my first post, lol) http://www.soberrecovery.com/forums/...thank-you.html
Did you know I love you???
You always share exactly what many of us need to hear.
And, as you mentioned earlier, it would have been easier for me to have stayed single but I was footloose and fancy free and then somehow wound up with my man.
I still wonder if I've made the right decision to commit so soon, but sometimes things unfold in life and you don't want to lose something good.

I'm working my step 3 these days pretty hard. Taking my series 7 next Monday and ready to get this dang test over with!
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