Have you heard the word ‘no’ a lot in your life? Was there always someone telling you what to do and how to behave in a non-caring, non-nurturing way. There’s a lot of it about.
My ‘free’ child was squashed at an early age, mostly by school and bullies. The combination of that with socially liberal parents who gave lots of permission with my natural inclination to being a mix of rebel (with a ‘small’ r) and ‘people pleaser’ led me into conflict from which I have never quite escaped. Yet.
The personality part of us we can’t really change, unless by torture or abuse. Even then going against our nature doesn’t usually work out well. Something about listening to ‘Rebel Rebel’, on my small transistor radio in German class, against the rules of course, let me further into the world of Bowie. It was on I was already firmly immersed in courtesy of my next oldest brother, Starman and Aladdin Sane had already warped my mind (I think that was what my dad thought. ‘He’s wearing an EARRING!’. I can still hear him saying it. And we replying, ‘yeah great innit’.)
‘People pleaser’ seems to be the latest psycho label of which we can miraculously be ‘cured’. Last month it was ‘procrastination’. Instead of celebrating our personalities we are being urged to fix them. I accept that there is a huge difference between harmonising and rescuing. Understanding that can help facilitate better relationships and sooth our worried minds. When mixed with rebel the clash is quite stark. The wish for people to be happy clashes with the wish to rebel and challenge. It pisses people off.
I make a very strange kind of rebel. I think/feel/believe that boundaries, guidelines and social order through some sort of rule of law is important. The harmoniser in me informs my world that discrimination creates conflict, that kindness rules over cruelty in my world, and that most of our leaders are bastards. If we are lucky enough to have the opportunity, we often elect a completely unsuitable mix of aggressive psychopaths, narcissists, sociopaths and bullies. At best they might just be manipulators.
So a lot of my adult life has had me not only in conflict with a lot of the world but also with myself. Years of giving and receiving therapy, having wonderful family, friends and colleagues has helped me unravel a lot of it. Am I there yet? Maybe not. But this is the journey. ‘kick out what is aggressive, run off the passive’ wrote someone. Oh! It was me. (QJB 2021).
If, like me, you are sick of people saying no to you perhaps there is something we can do. ‘Get up, stand up, stand up for our rights’ (Marley). These days I rebel in a much more comfortable way. Through my music. Supporting my therapy clients. Moving away from the toxic and towards the loving. ‘Don’t give up the fight’. By being the best human I can. By being my best friend, the best relative, the best friend of others. I aspire. I achieve more often than I do. Some sadly I have left along the way. There were part of my journey (I am reclaiming that phrase from talent show offs) and I honour them, and apologise to them. Some of the time I know not what I did. I know more of the time now. It will never be perfect, 100%, but it can be good enough.
This is the journey. Are we there yet?