In Melanie’s mind, the only way she could feel like she was a good person was to prove to others who were important to her that she loved them. This pattern continued in her marriage. Melanie married a man much like her mother — a narcissistic man was who constantly demanded Melanie’s time and attention. Again, no matter how much time and attention she gave to her husband, and no matter how much sex she had with him, it was never enough. Like her mother, her husband was never happy with her and was frequently angry, blaming and disapproving of her.
The same pattern continued with her children. Fearing her children’s disapproval, Melanie completely gave herself up to her children, attempting to meet her children’s every need. The more she did this, the more demanding and bratty her children became.
By the time Melanie consulted with me, she was physically and emotionally exhausted and depleted. She was getting sick a lot and felt profoundly depressed. She felt like she just wanted to give up on life. She was still constantly trying to prove her love to her family as well as to her friends, and it wasn’t working at all.
As Melanie started to do her inner work, she realized that she was making others responsible for defining her goodness and worth. She realized that, while she really was a very loving and giving person, much of her giving was to get seen as a good person. She saw that she would continue to be vulnerable to other’s demands until she no longer needed them to define her with their approval. She realized that until she defined herself through her higher self, and until she took loving care of herself, she would never feel that she was good. She discovered that feeling like a good person could never come from others – it had to come from her own loving actions toward herself. She saw that her inner child would never feel seen as a good person until Melanie treated her lovingly.
While Melanie did not stop being loving to her husband and children, she was no longer jumping to meet their every demand and trying to prove her love to them. Instead, she began to tune in to what was in her highest good in the face of their demands.
As Melanie started taking care of herself, her relationships with her family slowly changed. While her husband and children were not always happy with her, she discovered that they actually respected her more than when she was giving in to them. Their demands, anger and blaming gradually diminished since these behaviors no longer worked to control Melanie. In addition, Melanie was no longer exhausted and depleted, nor was she getting sick so often. By defining her own goodness, she no longer felt that she had to prove her love to anyone. She knew she was a loving person and she knew that she deserved to be treated with caring and respect.