Recently at work, someone described me as a “people-pleaser”. Instead of becoming defensive like my coworker expected, I laughed. The truth is that I was a “yes man” and to some extent, I still am. The episode reminded reminded of some advice an old friend gave me which was that if she could teach me to learn (and live by) one word alone, it would be “NO“. I constantly found myself trying to satisfy everyone’s needs but my own, constantly putting others above myself, convinced that to put my own desires first was to be selfish. I now know that I became this person because I wanted people to like me and value me for I did not value myself. I pretended to be “happy to help” when all I wanted to do was toss some very nasty phrases at the people who made annoying requests especially the ones who knew that they really were asking too much.A lot has changed since then. These days I have been described as having a “low tolerance for BS”. I guess as I became more accepting of myself, I started losing the need to make others happy all the time. This is not to say that I have become a “people-displeaser”.
Over ten years ago, I bought a book entitled “Free To Be Me”. It had a light brown cover with a middle-aged woman sitting on a tree stump in the middle of a clearing with what looked like a genuine smile on her face (I examined that smile signs of insincerity and when I couldn’t find any, I concluded that she must be a very good model). It was written by a minister known for his controversial views – at the time I was very much involved with church – and it came highly recommended.
I never read it.
It was the idea of the book and what it promised to deliver that spoke to me. Sometimes I would pick up the book and stare at the cover and imagine having the sort of peace that would shine through me in a smile similar the one the model so convincingly displayed. At that time, I was still deep within my closet, had locked the door tightly and was trying to swallow the key. I couldn’t/wouldn’t admit to myself that I was gay. I was too scared to read it since I didn’t want to read a book that proposed self-acceptance (incidentally that was one of the first chapters). I buried myself in the books that said being gay was a sin and evil. My relationships were suffering and there are some good friends who I pushed away because of my internal struggles and the belief that no one could help me. I regret doing that now because some of them were really amazing people who I miss. Today I have progressed on the journey of knowing and accepting myself and though I wouldn’t say I have self-actualized (from where I stand now, I don’t even know that a summit exists), it’s better than living in a cage of my making. I know the book still lies somewhere in my box of books and things and one of this days I’ll go looking for it. I rarely go to church anymore because I don’t know if I could take one more homophobic message. One of my best friends has categorically stated that he doesn’t believe in God and sometimes I consider if he is right and what that would mean. However, I just can’t accept that this beautiful world we live in came about by chance or without guidance. I also wonder if God is okay with (and accepting of) the person I am becoming. Deep within me, I hope He understands.
February 17, 2013 at 1:59 pm
Excellent assessment and so true for so many of our community (more so because most are afraid to admit to the same). In my humble opinion, I believe God smiles on all of his handiwork, regardless of the gender of the people they love. Thank you for publishing this.
February 17, 2013 at 2:12 pm
February 17, 2013 at 9:51 pm
If God makes us gay just to make us stay celibate, I am not interested in that God.
February 18, 2013 at 9:27 am
Harsh but true. To think someone would advocate sexual poverty over something that was never your choice..
February 18, 2013 at 9:00 am
It is always such a challenge to stand up for oneself n one’s beliefs in this consensus-addicted world
February 18, 2013 at 9:27 am
It is and it never gets easier either.
February 20, 2013 at 7:22 am
Yes. Me too. All of it. Though I’m not as far on the “I can actually get along with myself” journey as you present yourself as being.
February 20, 2013 at 8:04 am
You really have a way with words…
February 20, 2013 at 8:37 am
February 20, 2013 at 10:01 am
Interesting that you said “..as I present myself as being”, meaning I may not actually be as okay with myself as I claim to be. Some self-assessment is in order I suppose..
February 23, 2013 at 7:51 am
Just wanted to make it clear that I can’t see into you, and you can’t see inside me, so we really have no way of comparing. I didn’t mean to make you doubt yourself.
February 23, 2013 at 8:25 am
That’s very true..
May 19, 2017 at 1:15 am
Well, the thing is, you blog as TRHC but I think pretty much everyone knows you by name, if they don’t, all they have to do is ASK!My name is ALL OVER my blog, my REAL name… I abhor a COWARD, anyone that hides behind a *blocked caller ID* to call and harass the author of a blog is nothing more than a CHICKEN SHIT COD2AWR30; But, we’re talking about an obvious Obama supporter, so I suppose I am digressing a bit..