It seems I have taken an unplanned gap. I last wrote a new blog post about 2 months ago, since then it has been reblogs of mine or others blogs. I went away to the UK, and came back with a rather nasty illness that lasted for over 2 weeks, and resolved just in time for me to be going back to the UK for another week of busy relative/friend catch ups. So, upon return to normal (as we know it) I lost interest in much on the WWW and found myself waiting to be inspired.
It took me a while to go back to Twitter, and Tweetdeck, where I promote Dad’s book along with my daughter, and my daughter’s business. Anyhow, I was inspired yesterday to reflect on an old behaviour of mine, having witnessed it virtual friend yesterday who received little acknowledgement for her birthday. So, J…this blog is for you 😉
The young pre therapy me had learned not to bother people, not to be a burden and to take what came my way without asking. I learned that my needs weren’t important and that others were more important than mine. Most of this learning took place at my mother’s knee, being a narcissist, her needs were always more important. In fact by the age of 4, I’d learn how to take care of her needs (a probably other’s too) very well, and would get lots of praise for my caring behaviours.
Over the years I grew up meeting other’s needs, choosing friends who wouldn’t see my needs and choosing romantic relationships with men who’s needs were more important (in their eyes). If I had needs I didn’t voice them and my expectation was to be missed, ignored and used. Oh hold on, I had learnt a way to get my needs met, taught me by my mother, and that was to be rebellious and difficult. So, alongside the caring me, there was the noisy, rebellious and disruptive me. This was not helpful through my school years, I spent much time rebelling and not conforming, and not so much time learning. Add to this my disrupted schooling from age 11, it’s hardly surprising I left school with little if no qualifications.
Sadly, with this as our modus operandi we get lots of positive strokes for being this way, and this feeds us and helps us to keep going. We don’t notice that the strokes are conditional upon us being good, kind and nice. And we don’t notice that the we receive negative strokes every time we get forgotten or our birthdays etc get forgotten. Well, actually we do notice, but we expect them and think that is how life is.
So, moving on, in the last couple of years of my therapy training, I’d began to understand that everyone (YES EVERYONE) was entitled to get their needs met. I began to understand that the reason I so carefully met other’s needs, and so religiously remembered others birthdays and important occasions was because I hoped that at some point someone would notice that I too had needs, important occasions etc. Many who grow up with these unmet needs tend to go into the caring professions (so no surprise I went into nursing and psychotherapy). We have an innate ability to understand the needs of others, and a greater depth of empathy. Sadly, we tend not to have empathy for ourselves (well not that we can admit or acknowledge).
Having discovered this, the hardest part was to come. I had to make changes and start asking for my needs to be met. I had to risk that people might not like me for having needs (and that is probably the biggest thing that keeps us stuck, the need to be liked).
As my 47th birthday approached (I was single and living alone), in fact weeks before, I started making sure to remind people that I was going to have a birthday. I wrote in the diary at work (several times) to remind my colleagues, I made sure I let my large training group know (probably more than once) (and of course they were very stroking about me meeting my needs). My birthday fell on a weekend, and over a period of 3 days I had loads of birthday cards arriving in the post. I even got 2 birthday cards from my boss. I felt so warm and lucky to have such lovely friends, and even though I’d had to remind them (this feels odd at first) it still felt good and I had a lovely birthday. I am sure I did other stuff to celebrate with friends but cannot now remember.
So, seeing my friend feeling so sad yesterday when her birthday went unacknowledged by those closest to her made me sad, and reminded me of the change I made to prevent that from happening in the future. I hope in some way that this blog post (if she reads it) will help her to make some changes for her birthday next year.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY FOR YESTERDAY JW (or CP as she is also known) and thank you for inspiring me to blog again.