To put it simply, I am a recovering people pleaser. Richard is right, it comes from my need to please, no matter what the mood, my mother-a fruitless endeavor at best. I remember buying her cards as a teenager, and I found one just last year, in my neurotic collection of cards I have received since the first grade. I was apologizing, but even back then I didn’t know why. I just knew that she would go for days and days without speaking to me, a trick my sister has used-very successfully I might add.
I would go down Brownlie Road, and pick her lilies. At one point the house was full of them, and my mother couldn’t have cared less. I learned early on that people could make or break you, and thus, I became the obsessive people pleaser from Hell. I would go to great lengths to make people smile, even laugh, often at my own expense. In sixth grade I had a gym teacher, Mr. Aisles. I had a nickname for him, and I used it regularly, just to make my girlfriend laugh. One day, (unbeknownst to me he was going through a messy divorce) I ran out into the hall and shouted out “Hey Mr. Styles, how you doin’?” I was knocked down to the ground, breathless and in shock; he literally put me in a choke hold and threw me to the concrete flooring. Mortified, I returned to my classroom, brushing off hall dust, crying and disheveled. The whole class laughed, and so began my venture into stand up comedy. I was on the local channels, The Gene London Show and Take 12. I practiced Lily Tomlin’s Edith Anne until I was actually channeling her. When it aired on television, I was horrified: am I that heavy? Was that even funny?. Oh My God what if Tom Schunder sees it? (My secret crush who ended up being my first love years later.) He went from shooting his BB gun at me when he found me stalking him, to kissing me one evening whilst our parents partied in another room. I was gone, completely and madly obsessed with the poor dude.
Nowadays? I am still kind and loving, and I do care about people. But you better be homeless or the underdog, or I will walk right by you as if you didn’t exist. I had to get to that point to protect myself-I was bringing home hippies and psychopaths-to be honest I had faith that everyone had my heart as I never, ever learned boundaries in childhood. I once worked with men and women with Intellectual Disabilities, Autism and Down Syndrome. I couldn’t, or wouldn’t discipline them. I wanted them to be happy, and I became so close to one of the gentlemen in my house that I was called to the main office:
“Michele, it has come to our attention that you have befriended Jonathan. I’m sorry, but we are going to have to send you to Boundaries Classes.”
Now, this was three years ago and I had worked hard to prepare for this abomination; how could they think I needed BOUNDARIES classes? It was to my immediate amusement (I think I laughed out l oud, as a matter of fact) that Doris couldn’t find a boundaries class, and I was dismissed, forthright.
Those of us who are recovering doormats may still attract the occasional sociopath, shoe salesman or mangy dog: but know this-eventually we will come to our senses, and leave your sorry asses behind.