cartoon cow writing at a desk

Goody Two Shoes (3.26.17)

I have always been a “good girl” or a “goody two shoes.” Even though I had a strong voice at times, it was always restrained by my parent’s guidance. I don’t feel like they were trying to completely shut me down, but over time, my voice was greatly limited considering my personality and energy (I’m a Leo). For example, we used to visit my grandparents on the farm often. After one visit, as soon as we got into the car, my parents said that whatever I said during the visit may have hurt my uncle Tommy’s feelings. I don’t remember the conversation or the details, just the reprimand. It has never been my intention to hurt people’s feelings, however that experience made me shut down a part of myself. Another time, my parents and I were walking together in the neighborhood. A neighbor many streets away from us had changed something on their house. I was expressing my opinion about this change with my parents and once we passed the house they reprimanded me for not seeing the homeowner on the front steps and being concerned that the people may have heard me and been offended by my comments. Over time I learned to shut down aspects of myself in order to be more kind, thoughtful, and “respectful of others.”

My parents are nice, kind, helpful people. My dad would go out of his way to help other people whether he knew them or not. He was always ready and willing to help an extended family member or neighbor as needed. My mother took care of us, our household, helped our neighbors as needed, worked full time as an elementary school teacher, and volunteered at our church.  My parents were my role models. I learned from them. My brother is the same way. I’m grateful that my parents and my brother are “good” people. I’m thankful that I was raised in a family that was considered nice and helpful.

The first lesson I learned in individual counseling with a male counselor, who was a marine and Vietnam Vet, was how to be assertive. There is a huge difference between being assertive and being aggressive. My parents were so nice to other people that they typically put other people’s needs and feelings before their own needs and feelings. They were taught these lessons from their parents who were also kind and helpful people. There’s a fine line between self-care and being selfish. The bottom line is that I needed to learn that I mattered so that I could take better care of myself emotionally which would also translate into taking care of my personal boundaries with others. Imagine the confusion of being a child sexually abused by her biological father from the ages of 8 to 20 while also being raised to be kind and considerate of others to the point of losing yourself. Where do I fit into this picture? I needed to learn how to protect and defend myself better in life and I was also changing a pattern in my family system where people were maybe too kind, victims, and martyrs. Through years of counseling with a few extraordinary pastoral counselors at the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care (VIPCare), I was able to learn how to become assertive and set more clear boundaries between myself and others. We are all a work in progress, however I have proudly shifted my “goody two shoes” image to embrace my lightness, my darkness, to take care of myself, and to help others.