Hey Readers, hope you are all well this week! I have had a great week and I really am beginning to see some of the fruits that living in and sharing my truth brings. The feedback that I have had from all of my posts this week has been fantastic and has given me further motivation to keep writing and sharing. So I thank you guys for reading, commenting and following, and I urge you to continue to follow and share as you just don’t know who we may help along the way.
So the title of this week’s blog came to me whilst I was in the bath, one of my favourite places to spend time with myself. I was just thinking about how I was always giving to others and the term popped into my head.
(I must share this with you guys before I go on. Whilst I was in the bath, the term Cinderella Syndrome came into my head I thought, wow I am so amazing how did I come up with that? So half way through writing the blog it occurred to me that I might not have made this term up maybe I had read it somewhere and I just pulled it out of my memory vault. So I thought as you do, let me google this, and I was right this is already a theory originally developed by a lady called Collette Dowling (1989) who called it the Cinderella Complex. There was me thinking I had come up with a fantastic term, well I have defiantly lived this complex/syndrome but I did not come up with the theory as I thought I did. I do however give myself full appreciation though, for the fact that I am well read and I retained it in my memory vault! Every cloud has a silver lining. Let’s continue you with the subject;
Once upon a time there was a young girl called Sadia she lived with her mother and two sisters, one older and one younger. As a middle child she never quite felt good enough. Sadia was not first born and was not the baby so always felt like she needed to work for her attention…. (Only joking ,I am not telling a fairy tale).
On a serious note though, as I have explored a little before I did feel inadequate as a child. I did not feel like I was loved as much as my siblings and I carried that through my life up until recently. It is a very heavy and silent burden to carry around when you have that feeling. As a child you do not have the words to articulate and express what you are feeling to yourself or to others. It is silently there in the background and grows and grows before you know it, it turns into Cinderella Syndrome.
Cinderella Syndrome for me was feeling like I needed to be perfect, to be loved that in order to receive love I had to perform in a certain way. I needed to be useful to be accepted and to receive praise from my parents. I learnt that they liked me more for what I could do (well that was my childhood interpretation of the love I received).
I can remember always wanting to make my mom happy, so when she would go out shopping or out for the day with her friends, I would think to myself what can I do to surprise her and show her that I am a good daughter. Show her that I deserve to be there and to be loved also to get praised which would make me feel like I have a purpose and role within my family unit. That role was to be good and supportive. I would clean the whole house while she was gone, or change the living room around I would not just do the hovering or the washing up. I would clean the windows, the doors the skirting boards everything would be gleaming by the time she came back. It would actually make me feel really excited about what her reaction would be. The idea of pleasing her made me feel that I was there for a reason. My mother’s response to me would be positive and then she would talk about me to others in a positive light. My aunts and uncles saw be as good and responsible, I kept that role up until I went to prison.
When I came home to my mom’s house upon leaving prison one of the things they said my aunt, mom and sister was ‘the house will be clean and tidy’.
It is funny actually because as a child my aunt would always call me first to do the cleaning jobs, and my little cousin would say to me ‘do a bad job and she won’t call you, that’s what I do’
I also remember wanting to buy my friends really cool gifts, I had my mom give me money to buy my best friend a gold ring when I was in senior school, I thought it would make her appreciate me more.
My younger sister will tell you that I thought I was her mom, I would want only the best for her, I always made a massive fuss of her on her birthday, balloons, parties, sleepovers, cakes, and the best presents whatever she wanted. I never wanted her to feel unloved, but I also wanted her to think I was the best big sister in the world.
This continued in my ‘relationship’ with Mr Man, at one point he had his own place and whilst he was on holidays, most likely with one of his real women, I would make sure that his flat was pristinely cleaned for when he got back. I would clean every corner and crevice, knowing that it would please him to come home to a perfectly clean and tidy house. I can remember him once touching the top of the door frame to check there was no dust, that I had not missed a spot. He would praise me and tell me that no one, but his mother could clean like me, special ad unique. I was desperate to be the number one chick. This extended as far as when I went to prison, I did not feel angry, I felt like the cat that got the cream because surely no other woman had gone to jail for him.
I know that this does not sound good and I may be labelled as crazy and stupid, but I truly felt that I had won him, that I was defiantly going to become his wife! (That my friends is a whole other book to be read but it is my truth) On with the story….
To make it worse he would probably spend a good few hours with me the day of his return from his romantic getaways (if I was lucky the night, if I was really lucky the weekend), but in actual fact I was cleaning the flat in order that he could entertain other women too. I must be honest with you and myself, I also would pack his suitcase for him, do a lot of the shopping for his holiday clothes and organising insurance or dropping him to the airport. If he ever allowed another woman to do those job of packing his suitcase, organising him and so on. I would become angry and upset with him never mind the fact he was of on holiday with someone else my concern was my warped sense of love.
I needed to feel useful because being useful to him meant that I was loved by him, and that he would not get rid of me.
During therapy I learnt that as I child, I did not get my emotional needs met in the way that I needed them met. I learnt that we are all different and we all have different level of emotional need. My Mom and family loved me in the way that they knew how but that does not mean that there way was compatible with my need.
I learnt that my experience as a child taught me how to respond to the world, so in order to receive love I thought I had to fulfil that Cinderella role and put everyone else’s needs before my own.
Gaining an understanding of what your needs are is extremely important part of establishing self-love and healthy relationships.
I do not blame myself for entering an abusive relationship and nor should anyone else, because abuse is not acceptable please understand that.
What I do take responsibility for is establishing what made me think that this was acceptable because I did for seventeen years. I felt like what I was receiving was love.
I needed to understand what was happening inside of me as to why I felt other people’s needs where more important than mine. Along the line I learnt that I was not important. I developed my Cinderella Syndrome, the funny thing is people would actually refer to me as Cinderella too as I said I liked it. I thought Cinderella put in all the work and she accepted everyone’s crap but at the end she got her reward. I stayed in an abusive relationship because I learnt that love was based on what I done rather than who I was, and that if I kept keeping people happy and accepting their crap than I would get my reward. I would get my Happy ever after, but I was wrong.
Guys that is not how it works you don’t get back what you give out, well actually that’s not true you do but you need to be clear about what you are giving out. I will continue to say that how you treat yourself (what you give out), sets the example for how others will learn to treat you (what you receive. Let me repeat it for you how you treat yourself set the example for how others will learn to treat you.
Now for the lessons, learn to love yourself! This is a big one. ‘How do I do that?’ I said to my therapist, she said ‘everything you want to do for others do unto yourself’. I kept going back to her week after week and saying ‘it does not feel the same, I don’t feel loved if I don’t have anyone to please, I said I don’t get any feedback or praise from myself’ she said ‘well give you feedback and praise you’. ‘Oh’ was my response.
I kept on trying it, and I can do it now above if you noticed, I praised myself for holding knowledgeable information in my memory vault. I see the good in myself and I tell myself about that good.
I set boundaries in my relationships. If I feel my needs are not being met in my friendships or family relationships I express this.
I say No when what is been asked of me is going to take from me, for example my time.
Loving myself is hard and I find it really difficult to cook just for myself and clean up just for myself, because I have always done that for other people my mom, my baby sister, big sister, my nieces, my nephews, my partner,(using the term loosely because he never actually claimed me but as my dad said men will trick you but if it was sexual relationship than it was a relationship), but I am practicing every day to treat myself as I would others.
Practice loving yourself:
1) Establish what your needs are, I found that this required spending time with myself and formulating lists about what I needed. I also as I always do looked back at my childhood and thought what would I want to give to my younger self? (Inner child), what did she miss out on?
2) Praise yourself, focus on the positives and not the negatives, and don’t think it is selfish or big headed.
3) Thank yourself for all that you give to yourself, all that you are and all that you are working to become.
4) Set Boundaries in your relationships, this needs to be with your children, your partner, your friends, family and work. If others can they will make more withdrawals from you than deposits. You are important too!
5) Do not let the way society is built up fool you. Everyone I know will tell you, I love Disney films, all of them especially the classics such as Cinderella and Beauty and the beast. Along with other media sources, music, films, the news, families and schools etc. will lead us to believe that someone is going to come and rescue you, if you just behave in the right way or if you just give all of yourself to others you will be rewarded but don’t let those things lead you. You are responsible and in control of your own happiness. Do not put you power into the hands of others!
I hope you realise that there are so many levels and dimensions to low self-esteem and low self-worth it is very deep rooted and it is not easy to overcome. I am still in therapy and I feel that it is a continuous learning curve.
Until next week guys, keep growing and Keep Shining!