Once upon a time, I was an insufferable doormat.
In some ways, I still am, but thanks to time and just a hint of pride, I’ve moved past my worst moments.
Even to this day, I struggle with acknowledging my own feelings because I care so much about others’ instead. A guilt settles in the pit of my belly when I have to say no to a person or a request. I know I shouldn’t feel guilty for taking care of myself; in fact, I should do it more often.
And that’s part of the problem. I love. Too much. I love other people and in turn, I want them to love me, too. I go above and beyond for some who wouldn’t even take a step out of line for me. Due to this, I have been taken advantage of more times than I’d like to admit. Is it fair? No. But that’s life.
Unfortunately, this is the burden that comes with having a soft heart. I realize how much this relates to my previous post about escaping the shadow of other people’s expectations. The onus is on me, as well, for not stressing boundaries when I should, and not making my feelings known until the breaking point.
Sometimes, though, I don’t know how I feel. I can suss out another person’s emotions in five seconds flat, but my own? Not so much. Where did this shame of emotion come from? Why is it so difficult to understand my own internal thoughts? These are questions I ask myself, and still can’t come up with a suitable answer.
As I type this out in a weird string of stream of consciousness, I think I know why. Or at the least, a part of why.
Be this or be that. Do this or do that. You can’t do X. If you don’t act this way, then obviously you’re not Y. Who do you think you are?
With all that conflicting information, how was I supposed to know?
Some people can understand themselves from birth. Others, like me, have to take the long route.
So in an attempt to figure it out, I followed the cues of everyone else. I forfeited my own identity because I didn’t know how to assess it for myself, by myself. I abandoned my self-worth in order to prop others up instead: family, friends, even strangers.
Nevertheless, I am more in tune with how I feel now than a few years back. I have a stronger grasp of who I am as an individual – as myself. And so, I can begin shrugging off the label of being a doormat, of being a people pleaser. I might always feel a little guilty for saying no or for putting myself first every once in a while. That said, I will always help out when I can.
But the days of bending over backwards are over. Wipe your feet somewhere else.