If you were watching TV in the '90s and 2000s, you probably have a preference; Seinfeld or Friends. For me, it's Seinfeld by far.
Lately, I have an increased feeling like I'm right in the middle of a Seinfeld scene. More specifically, the scene where Jerry finds out Elaine was faking orgasms with him:
Jerry Seinfeld: The whole thing, the whole production, it was all an act? Elaine Benes: Not bad, huh? Jerry Seinfeld: What about the breathing, the panting, the moaning, the screaming? Elaine Benes: Fake, fake, fake, fake.
And no, I'm not talking about fake orgasms in my case. I also don't think I was consciously acting untruthfully, but I do look back now and loudly admit I was faking A LOT.
Like with faking orgasms, I was (and surely still do in some areas) putting up a show to make others feel better, to appear better in the eyes of others, to make things easier for myself, and in a twisted way, to feel better worthy of love.
Having a sense of humor, as shown in the Seinfeld scene, can be a very good thing, as it help us get through the hardships of life. Yet, the things we laugh about are not always funny and we use laughter to avoid admitting and confronting it (one can argue that faking orgasms is one of those not funny issues).
One sad example that I will keep short; I was raped when I was twenty-one and, for obvious reasons, couldn't handle it. It was a date rape with a guy I liked and was attracted to. But I froze, and later I blamed myself for willingly going there. I thought it was my fault. And so, my defense mechanism turned the whole story into a joke. Just another funny sex tale I can share with friends and gain points as a "free-spirited" and sexually open woman.
It took me about thirteen years to admit I was raped, and after a few months of being unable to cope with life, I found myself in treatment for PTSD. It helped me greatly, and I felt I could continue on with my life. Now I understand the treatment was just a tool that helped me quiet it down a bit so I could go back to life and function in society, but I didn't truly heal the wond.
I don't even want to think of what will happen when I open that box in therapy, but I sense it will happen soon.
Stickers, Graphite on Paper, 2020
Ok. The bottom line is, even in that painful experience, I was using humor and lies to keep things as they are. To not hurt anyone, myself included, and keep my persona as it was, so I could keep on with the show called my life.
And as it was when I woke up to the reality of experiencing rape and lying about it, I also woke up to more areas where I lied defending a curse. And as Lauryn Hill simply describes it, "I'll tell ya, that was not fun" (Interlude 5), not the defending the curse and not waking up to it.
One aspect of this way of acting can be called 'people-pleasing,' but a more complex perception lies in that aspect of personality. The root can be found when asking "what are we are trying to achieve by pleasing others?" If I listen closely, I hear more than just a loud" I want to be loved." It might come down to it, but the road there is not smooth.
Pleasing others might feel like the safe way to avoid conflicts, and those conflicts are not just between us and others; they are also the conflicts between us and ourselves. You see, pleasing others can also be the belief I must dress a certain way, look a certain way, know such and such, have this or that in order to be ranked higher in my personal perception of life. It doesn't start and end with saying yes to going to a party you don't want to or putting someone else's needs before your own.
Being a people-pleaser is a way of fitting in. It's a way of thinking and acting that says: "I don't belong anywhere as I am, and that loneliness is unbearable, so I'll adjust myself to save myself from facing it."
Finding that independent inner strength is not easy, and don't think you need to be this lonely wolf to find it. As inner strength unfolds and is rediscovered, life begins to fill up with authenticity. And that authenticity changes current relationships and brings on new and better soothing ones into your life.
No more fitting in.
When you and I are who we are, we just belong.
Discovering who we are is also a subject of its own complexity; spiritual practices will tell you you are love, and I agree, but not fully. You are also Ego, and that's not something to push aside.
The heart-Ego battle makes us all make questionable decisions; pleasing to fit in is one of them. But it can also look like the opposite thing, meaning going against the crowd. That can be just the other side of the same coin; fear of the pain of rejection, genuine connection, and somewhat unavoidable attachment.
Building a balanced relationship between the heart and ego takes time, maybe even a lifetime. We don't need to exclude any parts of our being, really, but to have the guts to look at who we are and how we act with open eyes. And also an open heart, because some of what we discover about ourselves will be very painful, and recovering requires a loving and accepting heart.
Open eyes to see through the lies.
Open heart to heal and let go of the disguise.