I had an epiphany as I journaled one night last week. (perhaps it’s been a couple weeks now)
I journaled in response to a suggestion that I’m taken for granted by some of the people in my life.
I questioned if I could love others without sacrificing myself. I questioned why I can’t seem to say no. I questioned why I feel compelled to always do what’s expected of me, even if it’s unrealistic.
I mused that it comes from being a little girl and feeling like I had to work hard to be loved. That if I was a “good girl” and did what I was “supposed” to do, then I was loved. If I wasn’t good or didn’t do what was expected of me, love was withheld from me.
And *poof* the epiphany occurred.
I over-function to be loved.
I’m a chronic over-functioner.
Will Meek PhD describes over-functioners in this way:
Over-functioners (OFs) are usually seen as people who “have it together”, are detail oriented, organized, and reliable, and are typically viewed as being reliable workers, partners, and parents.
Classic characteristics of over-functioning include being overly focused on another person’s problems or life situation. Offering frequent advice or help to the other person. Feeling anger when help is not “appreciated” or the under-functioner (UF) doesn’t change. And frequently feeling overwhelmed, stressed, and neglecting self-care. Over-functioning can be seen as a type of “enabling”, even though the intent is the opposite.
That explains how I get myself into these situations where I’m taking care of everyone else and not myself. How I’ll make sure everyone’s everything is done, or their needs are met before I even begin to consider my own. And most of the time, I’m too worn out to consider my own needs, therefore I neglect them.
Turns out the only good thing about getting sick with the brain edema is that I was forced to consider my own needs first. But since I’ve been “well enough” I’m going back into my old patterns. And especially while Thing 2 was here.
Becoming aware of why I over-function is HUGE! If I know why I do it, perhaps I’ll be able to stop doing it. Ah, but then guilt and fear show up and panic me. If I don’t do (whatever) for (whomever) I’m not a good (whatever). And that means I’m not going to be loved.
Does that seem odd to you?
Will my doing (whatever) for the people in my life make them love me more than if I don’t do it?
Logic would suggest the answer is no.
But every fiber of my being is screaming yes!
This is something I will work hard to understand and change.
It’ll be better for me, and for the people in my life.
I must learn to say no in a kind and respectful way.
I must learn to understand that love isn’t based on what I do for others.
I must learn that it’s perfectly acceptable to put myself first.
I’m not loved because I do what’s expected of me.
I’m not loved because I’m a “good girl”.
I am loved because I am me.
Just being me is enough to be loved.
I must never forget that.