Or maybe you don't! Guess what? I don't CARE anymore. After spending most of my life bouncing around gushing like a labrador, listening attentively, censoring my comments and manipulating my behavior to suit my audience, I have finally arrived at the crest of ... of ... ANTIPATHY! I have finally realized that everyone does NOT like me, that I don't need everyone to like me (especially those I don't particularly care for myself) and that some people like me anyway, in spite of my flaws.
I credit my family with starting me on this road, primarily my husband, who continues to like me even though I am sometimes horsey, unreasonable, emotional and menopausally cranky. In my former life love was withdrawn from me whenever I exhibited displeasing traits or behaviors. It reinforced a pattern of pleasing I had utilized to get what I wanted since a youngster. I am working hard to break this pattern, but I hadn't realized breaking the pattern would release the beast within! And once the beast is out, it can be chained perhaps, but it will rear it's ugly head and roar on occasion. And wonder of wonders, he still likes me!
I credit my sons with the completion of my metamorphosis. The sheer futility of being the "nice" mom became readily apparent when they became teens. I don't care how nice you are, how much time you spend doing everything in your power to see to their physical needs, how much cheerleading you do or to what extent you feel their pain, it is simply not COOL to like your mom in your teen years. Faced with the ire, any sane body will simply throw in the towel and give vent to the beast. In fact, it has come as a great surprise to me that parents are not intended to be their kids' friends. Chances are if your kids do like you, you're doing something wrong. The very nature of a good parent is protective, their chief job teaching life's hard lessons, "no" their most useful word. Would you like someone who thwarted you in such a way? No. You might respect them (eventually, one hopes) but you wouldn't like them. Not yet, anyway.
And I finally have felt that I can be myself, whoever she is (she's a work in progress) and my real friends will like the good parts and ignore the bad. After all, that's what I do for my friends! And true friendship is reciprocal.
I find myself giving voice more often to my core beliefs, however unpopular they may be. Some of them include that horses are evil, that teachers spend much of their day devising ways to make parents use up their precious, limited vacation time attending school events or their hard-earned wages on frivolous school-related functions, supplies and items (more on this another time...my blood pressure is rising), that people are sheep, the death penalty is morally reprehensible, and that in every situation my amusement is tantamount. I rant, fully aware that these viewpoints are likely to result in my being disliked to some degree.
My liberation from pleasing is reinforced further by the intense pleasure I receive when I let fly with my opinions. What joy! It can hardly be compared with being well liked. I'll take loved-in-spite-of any day!