Being alone isn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Relationships are an area where I take on challenges without asking myself whether it is worth the effort, so it’s a nice change of pace to have energy to expend on myself.
When I was in school, the reason why I was a good student is that I did what teachers told me to do. It never occurred to me that not doing the reading or homework and not studying were an option. I also try to fulfill my job responsibilities because I’m afraid that if I make one mistake I’ll get fired.
I think it’s partly due to my Catholic upbringing. I’m a rule-follower to begin with, but I also fear that if I break the rules I will go to hell. If I call a ball out, I’m afraid I’ll go to hell because I wanted the point so badly. So usually I just call everything in, which is sometimes to my advantage because my opponent wasn’t expecting to play a ball that was a foot out.
I used to have this prayer where I would ask God to forgive me for all my sins, intentional and unintentional, because I thought, what if I’ve sinned and I didn’t realize it? Then I couldn’t ask for forgiveness and I might go to hell. So I figured this prayer covered all the bases.
Most of my relationships weren’t of my choosing. If someone liked me, I would date him because I thought that would make him happy. Feeling ambivalent was not a good enough reason to say no because my feelings didn’t count. And it’s hard for me to end relationships because I’m not allowed to hurt anyone. Although I often ended up hurting them, anyway.
This is also the reason I became a psychologist and feel compelled to save the world. If someone is hurting, then it’s my job to help them if I’m able to do so. It doesn’t matter if I want to do so, whether I like the person or not, how stressed I am, or how much energy I have to expend.
My superhero family members also share this sentiment, as I mentioned in a previous post. They are even more extreme in terms of putting other people’s needs first, even if it hurts them. So I really haven’t had good role models for setting limits.
But thanks to this blog, I’m beginning to set limits. I’ve quit that crazy writing job where I was spending 10-12 hours on articles that gave the most superficial advice possible for $25. I ended a relationship and am learning to be alone. I have narrowed down my extra-curricular activities to tennis, knitting that dress for my niece, and writing/promoting my blog. Which is still a lot, but it’s an improvement for me.
My new rule is to say yes to what I want and no to what I don’t want. I said this 3 years ago, but sometimes it takes awhile to do what you know you need to do. So I’m trying not to beat myself up about that.
So from now on, it’s yes and no. Hopefully.