Picking up where I left off on the prior post. . .
I have come to realize that as a child I had a feelings of guilt, anger, and rejection. Those feelings were also surrounded with plenty of warm and loving feelings, as shared in my Backstory. The negative feelings were not all-consuming. But, as stated in my prior post, there were many “mundane” experiences that embedded some of those negative feelings into my pysche.
I won’t share them all. They were nothing overtly traumatic. Something as an adult you’d say, “And why did that bother you?” But to the mind of the seven year old that experienced it, the answer seems obvious. Exactly the sentiment expressed in my Childhood is Wasted on Children post.
I was keenly aware that I was my dad’s “favorite.” You can read more in my About page. In many ways this was a positive, but as an adult I started to reflect and recognize it also had some negatives. I felt guilty my siblings didn’t get to experience the best of my dad. Why me? Why should I be the lucky one? I felt I hadn’t done anything to deserve what my siblings missed out on. I think my people pleasing was a manifestation of trying to show I deserved the love and attention I got. In my mind, I had to do something, – anything – to earn what was so freely given to me.
Parenting can be such a sucky thing! I mean, you’d think showing unconditional love and support to a child would be uber-nurturing and self-affirming for that child. Nope! Even that, through the reasoning skills of a child, can be warped into a guilt-inducing thing.
Another example – there were a couple of occasions where my dad didn’t allow me to do some things with my siblings and cousins, who were all older than me. Those events really stuck with me as I interpreted it as there being something wrong with me such that he felt I didn’t deserve to do whatever fun thing the older kids were doing. Odd that I don’t have any specific memories of my mom doing the exact same thing, although I know she did so countless times. But it was my dad’s “rejection” that stuck with me so much that I can recall all the specific situations where this occurred.
As I said in my prior post, these experiences don’t have to be overtly traumatic. I was never abused and all these “negative” experiences were wrapped in a lot of loving experiences. They were mundane things that the mind of a child had to interpret and rationalize. At the time, being the much younger one of the group didn’t mean my parents made sure I had age appropriate experiences and that my siblings and cousins didn’t have to always worry about me tagging along. No, it meant there was something wrong with me and something missing from their love for me.
HOW I “FIXED” IT AS A CHILD
I realize now that the way I “fixed” this as a child was to conform and make as little fuss as possible in hopes that would both show that I deserved the tremendous love I got as well as “buy” the missing pieces of love I felt from being “rejected.” I became a people-pleaser and abandoned my own needs, so much so, my own needs became that need to please. That isn’t necessarily a bad trait, but it was pleasure based on what I thought would please people, not what necessarily actually pleased them.
Conflicting with the need to please was my mom’s enduring mantra, “Love life, every moment, every day.” And that if I wasn’t loving life, it was up to me to change it. Not a man, not a drug, not anyone but me.
I found that trying to please others was hard because I didn’t know what pleased them. I hit upon the idea that I had to first be happy, as you can’t make anyone happy if you’re not happy. Truth that!! But I went about it the wrong away because I rooted my happiness in what I THOUGHT made others happy. I became highly invested in that mindset such that I would get offended if my motives weren’t respected and applauded.
As I look back at my life pre-DD, I realize I was living much of my life as an impartial observer. I was in a constant rush to achieve my goals, pursue my dreams, and I was suffering from not having a free moment to myself. I was overburdened and lived in constant stress. What was important to me was truly unimportant in the scheme of things. I thought I was living life, every moment, every day, but it was fake. It was a hypnotic dream. (See Post 30. I Found my Thrill where I elaborated on this concept).
I now understand how the habits I cultivated as a child, set me up for failure as an adult. It’s one thing to put others needs before your own when fully motivated by the act of doing so with no expectation of getting something directly in return. But doing so because you think it will “buy” you love, adoration, appreciation, and respect? You’re in for a big disappointment. It will backfire as you will eventually feel unappreciated, burned out, angry, and resentful.
HOW I “FIXED” IT AS AN ADULT
How on earth did I figure submitting to my husband and a lifestyle of Domestic Discipline was the answer?
It’s hard to explain, but in looking back, I don’t think submission was the direct answer to my problems.
The answer to my problems was to accept my lack of control over how others, especially my husband, chose to treat me. Further, if someone was being unloving to me, I no longer had the need or desire to “earn” their love. I needed to accept what it means to take care of myself and accept that I have no control over how another person chooses to be.
Accepting that I can’t control other’s feelings or behavior has freed me to take loving care of myself. And I do that by behaving the way I want to behave, by truly making myself happy so that I can then be in a mindset that is capable of bringing joy to others. THAT was my answer. It just so happens that they way I wanted to behave and the way I truly make myself happy falls under the definition of a submissive wife.
I know that sounds like a giant leap, but going all the way back to my Third Post, I believe THAT is why the idea of submission resonated with me as I shared in that post. It was always within me, I just didn’t know it. For whatever reason, be it those childhood experiences or mid-life crisis, or whatever — submitting to my husband fulfills me and has made my marriage indestructible and fulfilling beyond anything I could have imagined or can even fully articulate. But maybe 364 posts have begun to scratch the surface!
By the way, all this self-reflection was triggered by Chelsea. I’ll provide an update and conclusion of sorts on her stay with us. Her stay prompted me to think about where my need to submit comes from. I still may not have fully answered it, and maybe won’t ever do so. But you now have some of the pieces that I think make up at least part of the answer.