On the List: 1. Feel Worthy (Check!)

Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree of Truth.

I’m about to embark on another weekend  that has a list as long as my arm of things I want to accomplish. No matter how many I check off, I probably won’t be happy (unless maybe I ditch everything on the list for a romantic getaway!). Maybe if I can just get a few more things done,  then I’ll have time to enjoy getting less done and playing more. I’m so close to getting so many things out of the way, closer than ever before.

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Or either I’ve simply decided to let all the unimportant and less important stuff go.

I’m not sure who first categorized  me as the “classic overachiever,” but I do remember being irritated at being categorized at all. I don’t like to be bored. I don’t like to be not doing anything at all. I cannot abide just staring at a TV for hours on end unless I’m multi-tasking  through the  entire  episode.  My need for mental  stimulation  requires that my mind be active! Though at times I do enjoy zoning out and enjoying a blissful moment, it’s still an active process. I’m not doing nothing then—I’m basking in the feelings I have in that moment and working hard to hold onto them.

I’m not sure when I first leapt onto the overachiever road. Some people, a very few, would disagree with my beliefs that I’ve  achieved anything at all. Those, in general, are  friends  of  my  ex  who  know  little  or  nothing about me and badmouth both my career choices and my dreams to my children as worthless, useless, insignificant. Ironic, but whenever they try to help my ex in this way, it just appears to our kids that he was a part of it, especially when they know he was with these  friends at the time they were posting scathing remarks about me online for my kids and friends to see.

But the fact that some people don’t see any significance in any  of  my accomplishments—and  really don’t have any knowledge  about  them  that’s  less than third- hand—is a clue to where this programming originates.

My parents always had high expectations of me. Expectations that they themselves could never meet. And I think “Thou shalt not disappoint thy parents” was one of the 10 Commandments,  right after “Thou shalt not kill,” in descending order of importance.

There was an expectation  set up that could  not be met. Therefore, the expectation became an expectation of failure. You can never do anything but lose. Well, you can work really hard and get tons done, but you still lose because it’s never enough.

So that’s what being so success-oriented  boils down to. Proving my worth.

It goes back to the fear of not being loved unless I live up to someone’s expectations or, when put on a pedestal, that I’ll fall off because there’s nowhere  to go but down. It’s the whimpering fear of a child who is loved for her potential and not for who she is or as she is. It’s the feeling that I must have a long list of accomplishments that are recognized as accomplishments by the rest of the world or at least by the people I love before I can consider myself worthy of their love…of even of loving myself.

I used  to  get  everything  on  my  checklists  done.  I don’t anymore. I let things slip now. Things I don’t think are important.  I  still  spend  my  time  being  busy,  busy, busy,  but  I’m  no  longer  spending  it  being  busy  with things  that  don’t  serve  me.  I  spend  my  time  now  on things  that  my  ex’s  friends  would  surely  point  to  as worthless, useless, and insignificant  in their own prioritization of how  life should  be. And I don’t care if they think I’m inferior, just that they upset my kids.

Of all my re-programming of myself, this is one of the more difficult  tasks because it goes back so terribly far into my childhood. But I’m getting better. Much. More so than  I’d realized  because  until  now,  I’d  thought  NOT getting  everything  finished  was  evidence  that  I  was  a slacker so I was a bit worried about this change in me, not realizing it’s a good change.

My spare time is still full and I think it always will be, and that may be an impossibility  for a partner in my future to accept my degree of independence.

But I’m now spending more of my busy time accomplishing things I want to do, even if I don’t get it all done. I spend more time doing things that feel good to my soul. And I think the right person out there for me will see me as worthy  regardless  of the boxes I’ve checked  off the list.


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