Monday, July 13, 2009

The Matriarch from Hell

Some years ago I made my peace with my experience of my Mom (I say it that way because I realize my perceptions of her may not be the same as other people's perceptions of her, including my siblings.)

And yet, working through my experiences is still an on-going necessity in order to try to remain in a healthy head-space and for my emotional health. Recently, I was stewing all over again about how nothing I ever do or say is good enough for her. I constantly think of ways to try to please her or make her life easier (no small feat given her age and advanced RA and physical disabilities.) Over the years I've done things for her, thinking it would make her happy, and been amazed at the dreadful response from her. Apparently I'm a slow learner because I continue to try to do nice things for her.

A couple of points realized here. First, I am a pleaser, I always have been and always will be. It is simply who I am. It does not guarantee that those whom I attempt to please are capable of being pleased. My mother is apparently not, nor was my ex-husband.

Second, Mom's inability to accept anything I do for her, or gifts I give to her, and find pleasure and joy in the receiving of service from me (or anyone else) is her problem, not mine. I have not failed simply because she chose to not be pleased. And the root of her inability to accept service is her own insecurity and lack of self-confidence. She has issues. Those issues spilled over onto her children, and they came to her largely from her own parents. I suspect she was a better mother to me than her mother was to her. I know I've parented my son more effectively than I was parented, although I'm sure he'll have issues too - hopefully they won't be the same as mine, lol.

These points are lifeblood for me - absolute MUST remembers, even if it means repeating them to myself daily. I am a pleaser, not everyone can be pleased, and their inability to be pleased has NOTHING to do with me and is no reflection on my ability and self-worth. Unless I work hard to remember these points, I can very easily get caught up in a negative downward spiral.

Some would say that it is Master's responsibility to help me work through that and remain healthy. But I'm not sure I agree with that. I've worked through the issues, and made my peace, and know how to move forward in a way that is healthy for me. How much hand-holding should He have to do with me? Isn't there a point where He can expect me to keep my mind from taking me back down there?

My need to please gets so tangled up in everything, I don't often know how to respond during a conversation. Recently, during one discussion of a problem He was having, He reminded me that I didn't have to fix the problem. That was liberating, to say the least. As a pleaser sometimes it feels that the weight of the world is on my shoulders. Sometimes I feel that He does expect me to fix things. There seems to be a skew in my mind that blurs for me the lines of service and fixing.

I tread this path daily, trying to work out how my own perceptions distort reality, in all my relationships - and mostly, within my own mind.

In the end, this entry really isn't about the Matriarch from hell, but rather the way my mind gets wrapped up in knots, even as I long for clarity. I long for everyone in my life to own their own crap. And perhaps, if I stop trying to please for a little bit, and stop trying to fix, I'll find that each person will step up and take care of their own issues, or perhaps I'll find that they have been all along. But no matter what, I must find a way to seperate my service to Master from my need to please.

The pleaser in me seems to be afraid that I am unlovable unless I do X or perform Y or give this, that, or the other. Offering service must not come from a place of fear and worry and self-doubt, and that is exactly where the need to please comes from.

Shew. A lot to think about. Making your peace with the past doesn't mean you can stop learning from it. Pleasing someone else is not possible if they don't wish to be pleased, and is no reflection on the giver. I cannot fix anything for other people, and to think I can or should is presumptuous at best. Sevice comes from a place of security and self-worth and confidence, the need to please comes from a needy and fearful place. Ultimately, I am worthy of love, even when I haven't received/experienced love from others. And that is no reflection on me.




  1. I'm a pleaser too, and that's one of the earliest signs I had that I was submissive by nature. I want to make people happy, I want people to like me. A huge step forward for me has been shifting my focus on a single person (my lover) and concentrating my efforts of pleasing HIM. We're both so happy when I succeed! Maybe you need to work on redefining what 'pleasing' someone actually means. For a dominant man, a pleasing girl is not the one who 'fixes' things, but who stays out of his way while HE fixes them! As far as you mother, I have had a similar experience in the sense that my mom is imperfect, but she's an improvement over HER mother, who was very likely an improvement over hers! Will our children or theirs eventually make it to perfect?!

  2. My ex mother-in-law actually used to steal from me. Her greatest triumph was stealing a painting from my home while visiting my wife. I have no idea how she managed it, but it's quite impressive in its way.

    Constance has made huge strides in prioritising. There are four important people, Constance, Mr.C., boy and girl. That's how it should be, everyone else, to a greater or lesser degree, can take a back seat.

  3. Oh my Constance - I don't think perfection is possible in a human being, but I'm content knowing I've done my best when it comes to my son.
    You're right of course, about what is pleasing. Somehow I very much lost track for awhile there.

    Mr C - I think your ex-MIL tops mine, and that's no small feat, lol. I will say that my ex MIL was actually nicer to me to my face than my own mother is - but it was only to my face mind you.

    I do TRY to keep the order of importance of everyone in the correct place. But sometimes things get jumbled up and I start the spiral of needing to fix everything for everyone - including Master - and as Constance pointed out, not such a good thing to do.

    But I'm learning and trying.

  4. Man, your mom sounds scarily like my mom was. She passed away a few years ago now. She also had RA and physical disability from that. There was NO pleasing that woman. I remember birthday gifts being rejected because I didn't get her what she asked for.

    But, on the pleasing front, I agree with Constance in that pleasing your Master is likely a high priority, and that it doesn't necessarily mean fixing everything. Think of it more as being a pleasing sub/slave. What would please him?

    I know my owner wants to find me pleasing and not the other way around: a high-maintenance brat, lol.

    Being a people pleaser, wanting to keep everyone happy is, I think, partly co-dependence, no?

    I used to be that way. I think as I get older I am changing in that regard, in that, it's okay if not everyone around me is happy. It's not my fault and doesn't necessarily reflect on me.

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with stepping back from others' troubles a bit, and letting them solve stuff themselves. We can be supportive, but try not to be an enabler. Or some people will never learn, right?

  5. DK, I agree, Definitely co-dependent. ugh. I think I get over and past this stuff and it creeps back up on me time and time again.

    I know intellectually that it isn't my job to make everyone around me happy. But the knee-jerk response still kicks in too many times for my liking. Especially when they come to expect me to fix something.

    Hooooboy. It's the climb. So I keep climbing.