09 April 2011

Quitting People-Pleasing

The third promise of ACOA says, "Fear of authority figures and the need to 'people-please' will leave us."

Growing up I spent a lot of time hiding from authority figures. Those figures were my three older brothers. In my eyes they knew it all and looking back on it, at that time, they were also pretty quick to let me know they knew it all.

With them though, it was a lot more then just them being authority figures. Growing up, I wanted to be like them. And to be like them, I had to be tough, I had to know more then anybody else. And as the baby of the family, I also realized that to have any chance of winning at this insane game I needed to please them.

Which meant that I tried to be every brothers best friend. Which ended up being a nightmare. If I was for one brother that meant I was against the other. And that usually meant the one I was against would physically beat me. They would beat me into the idea that they were the better brother... and so I would switch from one side to the other... and then receive the torture of the other brother. I became a human ping-pong ball and I was the prize possession in a family war.

I first escaped this insanity, physically, by moving halfway across the country. Then when that quit working I escaped through addictions – drugs and alcohol. That worked for awhile as well, until the anger and rage could no longer be hid.

Recovery for me started when I admitted to being an alcoholic and an addict. Then this too, work for awhile but I still had a hole in my soul. It wasn't until I found ACOA that things began to make sense. Alcohol caused a lot of problems in my life... but even after I stopped drinking I still suffered from the same negative personality traits that I always had.

ACOA began to show me that these traits were taught to me at a young age and by finally recognizing them I began to be able to work on them. This promise, cuts to the core with me. I struggled for many years with authority figures and my need to please them. At first, I swung the pendulum hard the other way and didn't fear anybody... which produced negative results.

But today, while not having a fear of authority figures I am able to have productive conversations with them, where a mutual respect is developed. And with that respect, I realize that the only person I need to please is myself. And I don't do that arrogantly or by being self-center. I can maintain healthy boundaries by pleasing myself and being pleased to be in the presence of authority.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My fear of authority figures can still raise it's ugly head even after many years in a 12 Step program. The scars run deep. I am afraid of anyone who I feel can take away my power - if that makes any sense. It causes me to feel very vulnerable. However, like with most things, most of my fears are just that - fears. I have to remind myself I am an adult and things are different today. Though sometimes I still can feel like a scared child.