She loved everyone and just wanted to make things peaceful, so she went about the business of making sure everyone was comfortable. They all had a glass of water or a cup of tea and their clothes were cleaned, folded and put away. She drove them all over the place and waited up late to make sure they were home. She let them choose the movies and the TV channels because she wanted them to be happy and she went without to save up and buy that labelled pair of jeans they wanted and send them on the best trips.
She always made sure they had the best food and she ate the burnt sausage so they wouldn't have to and she was happy when they were happy.
When they weren't happy and they yelled at her she wondered what else she could do to make them happy and she did all sorts of other little thoughtful things to try to cheer them up. She kept them all afloat. The house was mostly tidy, but not perfect because she also worked. They yelled about silly things that really didn't mean much and they forgot to do nice things for her.
One day a woman called her a people-pleaser. It sounded like an insult. She worried about it. She felt, if she was honest with herself, that nobody cared much about her, but she tried not to focus on that. She didn't realise they didn't ask her what she wanted because she had never had an opinion, she was too busy making sure they were ok.
They didn't do anything for her because she always did everything. She wondered if they'd notice if she just went off and did her own thing for a day, and thought they probably wouldn't.
She listened all hours to friends and family going through tough times and offered many suggestions, support and connections to help them. She did everything for everyone, cake stalls, the lot and whenever she was feeling under the weather, she told no-one, painted on a bright smile and kept on keeping on and keeping it all together but she was lying to herself. Serenely sitting on the lake, paddling like hell underneath making sure that 'other people' couldn't see how hard she was trying.
She ran on empty and was spread so thin like a pancake. She could take care of everyone else but she didn't have time for herself and if she focused on something she wanted, she would quickly talk herself out of it with logic and conversations like 'I can't do that, it's selfish'.
She was almost impossible to spot. She was someone's wife, someone's mother, someone's daughter, someone's sister..... and her own nobody.
The day finally came when she'd been taken for granted once too often - overlooked for the last time and the pancake blew up in everyone's faces. She threw the dinner in the kitchen and it went EVERYWHERE. And she didn't even clean it up.
It was inconvenient for them, they yelled and cried, one had a tantrum that lasted days - and it nearly swayed her.
She almost went back in the pan, her first thought was to apologise and make it 'right' but she realised she was only making it right for them, and that kind of right - when a person sells themselves out over and over and over again for other people - is not right at all.
She realised she had played a massive part in educating them to ignore her and so with the thought in mind that she was doing no favours to anyone if she allowed that education to continue - she went out to rediscover herself.
She switched off her waterfall of over-giving, became hard to get hold of. Checked her calls and screened them before she took them, and some she never got back to at all. She went to peaceful creative places, sculpting, book clubs, meditation and yoga. Her children had to learn to take the bus. They had to make their own lunches and wash their own clothes.
It killed nobody.
Everyone told her she had lost her marbles, and they didn't understand her anymore, but she felt like she was just finding them after years of being invisible. They called her selfish after her lifetime of eating burnt sausages and she was! It was a revelation.
She was Self-ish. Her Self was on its way back.
She had not realised how extensively she had sacrificed it on the altar of everyone else's needs and how far away it had travelled.
She learned to help them was her great joy, but their happiness was not her responsibility. It was up to them to make the most of everything. She actually needed to make sure they could manage to live in the real world where everything would not be done for them.
And she couldn't do that by continuing on the way she had - it made them entitled, demanding, incapable, thoughtless and frankly sometimes not very nice.
She had to step back in the name of love.
In order to show them how to take responsibility for their own well being, she had to take responsibility for hers, to fill her own love tank and be a living example of how to be self-sufficient and content.
She realised she was the answer to her own prayers, finally acknowledged her skills and her value - and her right to follow her own star and she started to glow.
If you know you're over-giving and need to get the balance right again, you can talk to me here about your needs, or book a session.
PROCESS, PROGRESS, SPIDERS & DAVID ATTENBOROUGH:
I'm reminded today that sometimes the process takes over and people lose sight of their progress.
*I was washing grapes in the kitchen sink when that came about.
Rinse, rinse, rinse, I was washing all the grime and bits off when a HUGE black spider came up out of the bunch I was holding and said 'MAMMA MIA!!' just a split second before my mouth went into an O shape and my eyebrows went into my hairline and I said 'FARK!'
Anyway, sometimes, diving in and having a good scrub in the name of moving forward, get the grape, the trophy, whatever -- or taking action steps to move forward means that a biggie comes up out of the closet.
Would you prefer that spider stayed in? Hell no.
It has to come up. So figure out what it's teaching you.
The spider is part of the process. That it came up at all means you are making progress.
If you didn't make the effort to wash the grapes it would still be hanging out there. Secretly making its webs in your meal.
It's a bit of a challenge from the Universe to make sure you really want what you want.
Do you still want those grapes?
Instead of grabbing the spider and holding it for days and screaming about being stuck in the process, remember the spiders greatest wish is to evacuate the area a screaming human is inhabiting. Carry it gently to a suitable location.
Love that spider. The fact that it showed up means it's leaving.
You're ok. In fact - you're better off than you thought you were. You are now spider free. That's progress. (And the spider is listening to the sweet music of the garden.)
The word 'cess' is sometimes used in front of the word 'pit' to describe a sh*t hole. A process can literally feel like this for a moment now and then. You don't want to stay in it though, so someone has to stop the screaming and STEP through it. There is a door, and 'gress' means to step.
The spider is the proCESS.
Evacuate the spider.
Appreciate the proGRESS.
Have a grape.
Most importantly, forgive yourself for not knowing the spider was there. Who are you, David Attenborough? No? Right, so be kind. Sit still and say a silent (or a rowdy) thanks for the progress you have made so far.
And next time a spider comes up, rinse and repeat, thank the spider, love yourself, see the progress, have a grape.
ps. Need help with the process? That's my department.
pps. Dear David Attenborough, if you are reading this, thank you for being a living demonstration of love in action, you amazing human.
ppps. No spiders were harmed in the writing of this post. One showed up physically, was relocated and then used allegorically, I haven't yet had a chat with his/her agent about fees. (I'm not certain we speak the same language either.)