Confessions of an Exhausted People Pleaser

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, we were without power for 48 hours (well, technically 45.5 hours. But who’s counting?). That amount of time is nothing compared to some other people, but I work from home and my deadlines weren’t disappearing even though my Internet did. I drove a few towns over to my parents’ house to take a shower and then I went to the library to get work done. While I was there, I missed a call from my mother-in-law who was calling to check in and see if I wanted to work at their house.  My in-laws are seriously the best ever – funny, kind and so welcoming from the very beginning. I knew I was more than welcome to work at their home, but I went to the library because I just concentrate better there.

A few hours later we finally got our power back, so my husband called his parents to let them know. I talked to his parents as well and they started joking around that they were mad at me for not working at their house and for going to the library instead and that I’m always welcome…blah blah blah.

My head started to spin and I could feel the tears coming.

I knew they were joking and I knew they weren’t actually yelling at me, but the people pleaser inside of me started to short circuit. I got to the point where I couldn’t talk anymore or I was going to start sobbing in his mom’s ear, so I did what any rational adult would do…I threw the cell phone on the couch, yelled “I can’t handle this!,” ran upstairs and threw myself on the bed while crying like a huge baby. This is my natural reaction whenever I feel like I am disappointing someone or that someone is upset with me. It’s just super.

This doesn’t happen every single time I feel like someone isn’t pleased with me; it builds up over time. I’m that girl – I smile through most things and bottle the negative feelings up inside. Then, when I reach my breaking point, I explode.  That explosion basically cancels out any people pleasing I had been doing up until that point because when I let go…I let go, and probably say even more than I would have if I had just expressed my feelings properly the first time I felt them.

I’ve just never been the type of person that can say “I am who I am and if you don’t like it, you can go screw yourself.” I want everyone to like me. Always. Even if I don’t like them.

Makes total sense, right? Ughhhhhh.

I know I’m not alone in caring too much about what other people think, but it’s still frustrating. Why do we care so much about making other people like us when the only person we actually have to live with is ourselves? We put our own mental health on the back burner just to make other people happy. It seems so stupid when I think about it, but in the moment, it seems impossible to handle that someone might be upset with me.

I think I still haven’t figured out how to react appropriately in certain situations. I have a lot of feelings and sometimes in the moment, it’s hard to sort through them and choose the ones that will express how I feel (in a mature way), while also making me feel like I said what I needed to say so that I don’t explode later. No one likes a temper tantrum, especially from a woman who is almost 30.

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