I was about six when I watched my dad throw my mom through a glass table. It was another one of their fights. My dad was a violent drunk and my mom was a “mouthy” one (never a good combo).
My little brother, Aaron, was the cute one… Highly out of control (one babysitter actually had to “abort mission” and bring her mom over for reinforcement) but always cute.
My sisters were teenagers. DyAnne was the bohemian, Kari was the funny one and Alisa was the devious one — “If you drink water directly from the dispenser on the fridge you will grow warts all over your knees,” she was very convincing.
I was just me. Not much to raise your eyebrows at. I didn’t have a ton of “personality” to speak of. I wasn’t all that cute, definitely not clever, or funny, bohemian or even devious.
I was the “good” girl. Yes, the babysitters all liked me. I made sure I didn’t make any waves or cause any trouble.
And, according to my mom, I was “soooooo sensitive.”
Now, I’m 40 (still sensitive). No matter how deep I go, being “good” continues to be my legacy.
I was not only sensitive, I was a little empath. Back in the day, it helped me anticipate what I might do or not do to make sure that volatile combination of personalities — my family — was as “happy” as possible.
Yes, being good has its hooks into me. It’s gotten wired into my circuitry. Untangling the legacy has been my work.
The self-imposed drive to embody “good” has gotten me far in many ways. I can charm a crowd, dress to impress, get the grade…. But I struggle to tolerate that “not so good” side of me.
But there is still a little girl in me who believes that being any combination of mediocre, homely, emotional or bland is somehow unsafe. That if I cannot charm a crowd I do not deserve to exist…
She’s in there. But oh do I try to cover her up, so thoroughly sometimes that I don’t even remember she’s there.
Until I slowly feel like crawling out of my skin.
And what I realize is this:
She deserves love.
The “me” with the gap in my front two teeth. The “me” without a single funny, witty or charming thing to say. The “me” who just wants to go to bed. The “me” who doesn’t want to read a story to my kids. The “me” who’d love to blow it all in an hour at Target. The jealous, lazy, intolerant, boastful, loud, passive aggressive, resentful, sanctimonious, hypocritical side of “me.”
She deserves love. From you. From God. From the Fedex guy. But mostly from me.
I don’t have to be good to deserve love.
And you don’t have to be either.
Here are 4 tips you can use right now to let go of “good” so you can just be you:
- Notice how you compensate for your “flaws.” Are you a gold star chaser like me? Or do you try to make yourself indispensable to your family and friends (at your own expense)? Do you strive to do it all yourself, as to never “bother” another soul? Or maybe you just try to stay invisible… Take the approval quiz right now to find out. Each personality type points to how you compensate.
- Look for evidence that you are safe, flaws and all. Vulnerability is NOT dangerous. Showing your underbelly (as I did above) is the path to true intimacy, to heal yourself and others through your own struggle.
- Connect with yourself as a child. As a rational adult you know that little kid doesn’t have to do or be or say a single thing to deserve love. Keep a photo of yourself nearby to remind yourself of that.
- And remember, you are a snowflake. Leaving you with this from class one of Be Brazen in Biz (and Life): “Your permission to exist was given the day you were born. You do not need to prove you are worthy. Does a snowflake have to do that? You are here to be the beautiful snowflake that you are, effortlessly. To let the universe shine through you as you glide through the air.”