I've only met with him once and am practically scheduling my next appointment as I type, but in the one meeting we had, I feel like I unlocked an enlightening door to my brain -- sort of the opposite of Pandora's box.
When we did our obligatory introductions, I almost felt a little too, what's the word...proud? "I'm this and that and I do this, this and this, and I also take part in this, this and this..."
When I regurgitate my personal resume, I myself sometimes wonder how I have time to fit it all of in. I get a lot of people asking me the same thing. My response is somewhat canned, "Caffeine and lots of it."
Time management aside, I have found myself pondering the reasons behind why I feel hell-bent on keeping myself so busy. You could argue that with my husband not here and the kids with their mom most nights, I have a lot of time to fill, but that's not it. Because it's just me, I'm acting sort of like a single parent. So it's on me to get dinner ready, the house cleaned up, mail sorted and paid, etc.
I actually know one of the biggest reasons why I keep myself so busy: I couldn't succeed at one thing. Child creation is supposed to be inherent to a woman's body and I couldn't do it so I've spent the last year chasing after other things to make up for it.
I always felt like there was a word for that feeling and my therapist gave it to me: Validation.
I never realized how strong an urge Validation was until I really examined my feelings and motives behind so much of what I do:
- I created Stepchicks because I wanted to validate my feelings of helpfulness to other stepmoms.
- I co-created The Stepfamily Letter Project because I wanted to further that feeling of helpfulness by letting people get things off their chests.
- I do pole dancing and karate to validate that I'm not scared to try interesting things.
- I do a lot for my stepkids because I want the validation from myself and others that I really am a good parent.
- I help my kids' mom out because I want that extra validation that I'm a good friend.
There's a lot more that I do that is validation-seeking but in a nutshell, I do things because I want to feel needed.
I'm attracted to situations where people or situations need a person like me -- organized, genuine, practical, a good leader. If any potential future employers are reading this, I'm a great catch!
Understanding my own need for validation has gotten me to think about a lot of what other stepmoms do in their own families and why they might get so frustrated:
- Do you plan parties or outings for the family even though no one wants to go?
- Do you make nice with the ex even if you don't want to?
- Do you bite your tongue when the kids say something rude?
- Do you pick up after everyone even though they made the mess?
- Do you ever find yourself resenting everyone -- including yourself?
Do you see my point? I wish I could offer advice other than to say that you are a great person. Sadly, being a great person barely helps you get out of bed in the morning. We all do things to validate that feeling of being good, kind, needed and wanted.
Take a minute this Father's Day weekend to ask yourself in what ways you seek validation and why.