To counter being invisible in my family, I took on the role of Fairy Godmother. I was the one everyone could rely on. I watched, monitored and exercised my need to feel in control, to feel wanted.
I made sure there were Christmas and birthday presents. I took children to the park and the pictures. I now see I was trying to give everyone the magical childhood I saw on the TV. I certainly did not see it in my life. I felt buoyed in my efforts when I was kept out of school to babysit family members. I was also asked to take time off work to do the same. I was needed. The world needed me.
Even as the children became adults, I continued my behaviour, not only organising events for grown adults - who I still called “the kids” - but organising events for their children. These behaviours gave me a feeling of security in an otherwise inconsistent, chaotic atmosphere.
Time passed, the children’s children were growing up and as is normal I found myself on the periphery of these families. I found they did not need me. This was devastating. I did not take solace in the fact these children were living healthy lives and taking seriously their responsibilities to their children. I had mapped out their lives for them, providing finances, a house, buying books to steer them onto a certain career path. They weren’t even grateful. I was adrift because I now had nothing to do and no one to do it for.
It got too late to start my own family. I will do anything for you as long as you are grateful. I had already planned that you would worship me in my old age. Now resentments rose up.
Through recovery work it became clear to me that it is one thing to strive to do my best for others, but it’s quite another to punish others if their results fall short of my high expectations or they choose their own path. I saw how this behaviour was obsessive and only served to drain my emotions of feelings for myself. When I stepped back, I realised how empty my life was. I saw myself as a sad, lonely figure. This is in complete contrast to the gay, super-strong, get up and giver facade I hid behind. I was only fooling myself.
It was a surprise to realise I had to say sorry to those I had previously thought owed me. I had to change my demands of others and let them explore their desires and goals. I changed also expectations of myself and my abilities. I am not superwoman or a fairy godmother. I need support too. That is precisely why I need to nourish myself first before offering help in any form to capable others.
It is simple really. I learned respect.
Respect for me first came into my awareness. I acknowledged my need for it.
It strengthened me and aided me in making the right decisions for myself.
Through this new awareness and new skill I then was able and willing to relinquish control of others and respect them.