I have no idea if other people have used this same expression, but my mother used it today, and it hit home, so I’m going to adopt it.
She used it to describe the reflex I have to please people, to be whom they want me to be, to do what they want me to do.
The idea of being a disappointment fills me with fear. I want to say the right things and do the right things and be the right person for the people I care about, the ones whose opinions matter. Part of my ability as a performer is to customize myself to be the person that another might want or need me to be. It is why it is easy for me to lose myself in a relationship, and why the “me” that I am is often different from one relationship to the next. I want to please and nurture and perform, and so I forget to be myself — because being myself feels selfish. Putting my needs first feels selfish and childish. I want, deeply and desperately, to make other people happy, to light them up, to satisfy and fill them.
And once I start down that road, it becomes very hard for me to get off it, because that way disappointment lies.
And I never, ever want to let anyone down. I’m a perfectionist, and I want everything — including me — to be perfect. To be all things for those who need them.
And I never, ever want to let anyone down.
Knowing that I cause hurt to someone else, knowing that I have performed below expectations, causes me literal pain. It can be impossible to sleep, to live with myself, knowing that someone out there thinks less of me.
Because I never, ever want to let anyone down.
I want, desperately, for people to think I am everything they need from me. I don’t expect to be everything they need — even my unrealistic expectations are tethered to a certain amount of reality — but I want to be everything they need from me.
I want to please and nurture and satisfy, and when I fail at that, it devastates me.
When circumstances force me to fail, or when circumstances demand that I place my needs first, it devastates me. It feels selfish, inconsiderate, self-centered, cold.
How did Cinderella get over that?