Maybe it was being all jacked up on hormones. Maybe it was the devil science. Maybe it was that my desire to start a family was so much stronger than what my priorities had been prior to that period of time. I'm not sure what it was exactly, but there was a point in time a few years ago when I stopped asking for permission.
It seems so simple to people who can do this. But to those of us who haven't been able to successfully navigate life without asking permission, it's baffling.
My entire life, I was led to believe that I needed approval from someone. From parents, teachers, caregivers, friends, lovers, BOSSES. And I almost always let them down in some way, even if only in my mind. You see, you cannot possibly please all the people all the time. Being a people pleaser is a deeply ingrained form of prison that I'm guessing far more women suffer from than men.
WHAT THE HELL IS THAT? I got so sick of it. But when you are in it, you just keep doing it. I got fed up when I was younger but had no idea how to process any feelings or disillusionment so I just drank. And then drank some more. But after I got sober, all my character defects were right there. And needing constant approval was right there looking me dead in the eye asking WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO NOW? How will you live now? How will you be happy joyous and free?
As a woman, it's incredibly interesting and sad to me that I felt the need to seek approval from so many for so long. Part of being a people pleaser for sure. But it makes the freedom that much more sweet that I broke the chains. You wouldn't know it to look at me, but something profound happened. I stopped asking permission. I am a grown woman. I am just as worthy as anybody else, and I am absolutely capable of living my life without needing consent or permission OR APPROVAL from anybody else.
My incredible husband was absolutely integral in me claiming my worth and as a role model in telling people what he needs. Many times he's helped me work through telling people what I need versus asking permission. I watched and I marveled. I learned from him and others.
The shift happened a few years ago and now it's infiltrated my every blood vein into each crevice of my life. When I started going through IVF, I think I grew by leaps and bounds. I developed more boundaries, and as strange as that sounds, for I was spouting every lousy detail to the world through my blog, I was developing my protective shell. I was developing my cocoon of what I need. I was developing my confidence to take what I need and know that all will be well. I learned early in recovery that people's reactions to me were none of my business, but I never really took it to heart so much as when all this went down.
I stopped asking permission. I was going to do IVF and I didn't need your approval. I was going to go to the doctor and be poked and prodded and take sick days and vacation when I needed them. Because I had them stored up and they were earned. And by god, I didn't need your approval. But you know what happened when I stopped asking permission? People started respecting me more. They started respecting my time more. Just by my actions of doing the hard work within the allotted time for that work, I gained an entirely new sense of self. I wasn't letting anyone down, in fact, I was helping more by not being available at all times.
The tricky thing is, I do have a Boss. And I am accountable and absolutely responsible to my employer. They pay me and give me benefits and treat me really well. So I do need to ask permission for certain things. And that is all just part of being a functioning part of society. But the key difference came when I started saying, NOT ASKING, but saying, I know I have this time and capability to do this work from home and so I'm going to do that. I am going to spend more time with my kids and also get all of my work done and done well.*
Here are some examples of how my patterns and permissions have changed (with repetition and practice and still doing it even when I get a stomach ache sometimes) from asking to telling in different areas of my life (within reason you can't turn into a dictating monster now come on):
- "Is it ok if I work from home?" turned into "I AM WORKING FROM HOME."
- "Is it ok if I take a day off to spend with my parents who are visiting?" turned into "MY PARENTS ARE VISITING AND I ONLY SEE THEM EVERY COUPLE OF MONTHS SO I AM TAKING A DAY OFF".
- "Is it ok if I go out tonight?" turned into "HEY I WANT TO GO OUT WITH LULUBELLE ON WEDNESDAY ARE YOU GOOD TO BE HOME WITH THE KIDS?"
- "Is it ok if you guys come visit another week - that week is really bad - I mean if it's ok with you is it ok with you?" turned into "LOOK THAT WEEK IS TERRIBLE FOR US AND THE KIDS. WE NEED TO DO ANOTHER WEEK."
- "Is it ok if we come later?" turned into "WE ARE COMING AT 2pm AND WE ARE LEAVING AT 6pm."
- "Is it ok if we reschedule, I'm just not feeling well and I don't want to get you sick, if that's ok with you." turned into "OMG I AM SO DONE AND NEED TO JUST BE ON MY COUCH ALONE TONIGHT."
For years I marveled at people who could just say, "I am blah blah blah." NOT "Is it ok if blah blah blah? Now I AM ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE. It's funny. I look the same. I am pretty much the same, except it's this whole new sense of confidence and respect and reliance on my capability to handle shit that gives me a bounce in my step. It's the promises coming true. I am a fully alive, respectable and fully fledged woman. With much more room to grow. It only took me almost 40 years to get here, but better late than never. And better that my kids see this version than the version that thought she wasn't worthy. Because I am worthy. AND SO ARE YOU. You hear me?
So what happened when I stopped asking for permission? I was granted ALL THE THINGS. This self care business is incredible, isn't it?
See also - The pain we carry while reaping great joy
*I know how lucky I am to have such a situation that allows me more time with my kids and that many don't have that. This is just my experience and the fact that our company allows that and I wasn't taking full advantage.
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