Recently I opened a newsletter from a writer/coach I deeply admire. And this newsletter (like many in the past) spoke directly to where I am on my journey. She wrote about following her “hut” (heart + gut…brilliant btw!) and her words resonated so deeply with me that I was compelled to respond to her with this…
Thank you for breathing life into the words for where I am at right now! Following my hut…long-time good girl apparently gone rogue… planning to leave the “good-on-paper job“ all of a sudden (more like after years of my hut screaming at me through whispers and back pain). All so that I can write and create and breathe life into words for myself and others like me. So that I can hold my children when the mood strikes me and remember what it feels like to have space in my brain. I am alive, passionate, intentional and purposeful for the first time in my 42 trips around the sun.
Thank you for showing up in my inbox, in my life. I appreciate the connection I feel to my Self because I know I am not alone.
Happy “follow your hut” Friday Alex & thank you
As I reflected on her words, and mine, I was drawn to revisit some of my writing from the beginning of my journey. Much of what I wrote in those early days years ago, were memories as I chose to remember them. Many of my stories were ones that had plagued my mind for many years and some were simply set on repeat, coming up now and again for “no apparent reason”. Writing them, getting them out of my head, allowed me to create space for new stories, space for versions that were more aligned with my Self, which I am deeply grateful for.
As I read and pondered breaking free from the “good girl” notion that I adopted at a very early age, I landed on this piece that I realize now was the beginning…no malice, no intent, no thought of the future…simply the beginning of the good girl.
From the age of 2 until about 5 or 6, my mother ran a daycare from our home, and she tells me that she had up to 15 kids, although I am sure that is more how it felt to her than the actual number. I was always the oldest, and by default I became Mommy’s Little Helper. I took it upon myself to stop napping by age 2; there was just too much to do . . . and I did the best I could to make sure that all the babies had what they needed. I accomplished my tasks to such a degree that my brother, only 15 months younger than me, felt no need to speak until the age of 2. When he did start talking, he spoke in complete sentences. Why talk when your older sister finished every sentence with “and Ryan too?”
When I went off to school, the helper skills that I had acquired over the previous years found their way into my classroom. I may have appeared to some as a bit of a do-gooder, but I didn’t know how to behave any other way. I was quick to help others, and I was a bit advanced academically I knew my numbers and could read simple texts before I got to school. So when others needed help reading or counting, I jumped at the opportunity to help.
My little helper duties also extended from the classroom to the coatroom where, at the end of every day, I was the last student to leave because I had to make sure that everyone had their boots, hats, and mitts, their backpacks, and their lunch bags. Apparently I would check the hooks and the shelves after everyone left to make sure that nothing was left behind before I was able to pack up and go home.
We lived only a short walk from my school, but every day I would be late coming home. One day I was especially late, and my mom, not being able to leave the other 14 kids behind to look for me, became very worried, so much so that when I did come in she berated me with questions like, “Where have you been? Why didn’t you come straight home?” to which I answered “I came straight home from school Mommy!! Honest!!” Because I saw nothing abnormal in my daily duties, which was the true reason as to why I was late. I had no idea that if I simply told her about being the Little Helper she would have understood what took me so long to get home.
She immediately got on the phone saying, “Well we’ll just see what your teacher has to say about this,” in a tone that I understand now was to be threatening to a small child, but I, although a bit confused, saw no issue with her speaking to my teacher. After a brief but informative conversation on the phone she turned to me and said: “Why didn’t you just tell me about all the extra stuff you do at the end of the day?” to which I responded
“What extra stuff?”
Helping, fixing, saving was my way of life for a very long time and, like the 5 year old version of myself, I never saw my acts of kindness and caring as extra stuff…Not until the pain of being over-extended and overwhelmed, feeling lost and empty was more then I could bare, did I realize that all the giving in the world was not going to give back to me if I did not take care of my Self.
I am done being the “good girl”
Yes I still care for those around me, I still care about their needs and their wants and desires I simply don’t put them before my own. I am not selfish, I am compassionate and boundaried. I know that in order to give others my best self, I need to care for and put time and energy into being my best self.
No longer the little helper
I am of service to the world because I honor who I am and what I need, which in turn inspires others to do the same…
This is the greatest gift we, the perpetual helpers, fixers, savers, can give.
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