March 3, 2014

Push-up Bras, Mothers & Chocolate: Life As a People Pleaser. ~ Lizzie Kramer

mother daughter

I think that I have the tendency to surround myself with people I can’t please.

This is a pattern that I’ve noticed with ex-boyfriends, flirtationships, friends—my mother.

In an attempt to share my happiness with other people, I find I end up spending a good amount of time with people who I don’t really make that happy. Maybe it’s because the people who I make happy are too easy to be around—maybe it’s because they don’t exist. But I have this nasty habit and I want to do something about it.

Take my relationship with my mother.

Before I go to see her, I go through a routine similar to what an eighth-grade girl might do when asked to the Valentine’s dance by the boy of her dreams:

I make sure my hair is prepped, my skin looks perfect (and if it doesn’t, I might throw on a little concealer, which I don’t do when I go on an actual date), and I throw on some sort of spandex-y legging/shirt combo that mirrors what she usually wears.

I also put on my only push-up bra, because otherwise my breasts are about as existent as a penguin’s.

For the record, penguins don’t have womanly breasts.

That usually doesn’t bother me, except when I see my mom. When I see my Mama, I want to be a penguin with massive boobs—a perfectly natural reaction.

I also try and research something easy to talk about, like Katy Perry getting engaged to John Mayer. Pretending to be really invested in this (which, admittedly, I’m a little invested in because I know, intuitively, that I’m supposed to marry John Mayer) gives me hope that we can bond about something.

I would love to talk about the benefits of oil-pulling with her, or gush about how I’m really excited about engaging my core to try and get up into handstand, but that type of discussion makes her worry about my mental health. She thinks I should be concerned with more relevant things (see above celebrity gossip).

One time I tried to tell her about how breathing through different nostrils at different times of the day can affect our mood and she said my babbling was making her have an anxiety attack.

Because I really can’t express myself to her verbally, I try to do so with food. I stress out big time about making something really healthy, gluten-free and still filled with chocolate.

I have a theory that chocolate is a universal mother/daughter bonding food, but so far this theory hasn’t been proven  with us. (It does have magnesium in it though, so ladies, when you’re craving chocolate during your favorite time of the month, that’s why).

I’ll clean my slate for the day in the effort to create the perfect mom food.

While I’m cooking I usually envision a mother and daughter happily eating tahini quinoa cupcakes together and hugging and laughing and then going to a dance class together and then seeing an acoustic band and riding off into the sunset of “happy mother daughter land” (does that exist? will that ever exist?).

But my chocolate efforts are usually met with the conviction that something in the food doesn’t agree with her, or gives her heart palpitations. A Hershey’s chocolate bar is then opened and consumed and Katy Perry is undoubtedly turned up on the radio.

Needless to say, I come out of a lot of our interactions feeling bad about myself and wildly disappointed. I then react to this disappointment by skipping yoga, crying on my bedroom floor and consuming all of whatever baked good I made.

And if it’s really bad, I might even get up from my floor, go to Jewel and buy white bread and Nutella, so I can then return to my beige carpet and eat it. When I’m low, I want to be really, really low. I want to wallow in the lowness and revel in it like a pig rolling around in the mud.

Sometimes, it feels so good to obliterate myself like that, but it’s really hindering to my productivity and life goals. Something about sitting inside all day and eating Nutella sandwiches on the floor just doesn’t scream “future world leader” to me.

Which would explain why I wake up the next day and feel like total shit.

I know it would be healthier for me to not try and please people; that might generally be a good idea, but it’s easier said than done.

Sometimes I don’t even realize I’m doing it, because I just want someone else to share in my happiness so badly. I have this wild need to love what I am doing and to be loved while doing it. It hurts like hell when I can’t have both.

So I abdicate one for the other and it still hurts like hell. The pain in my chest starts at my heart and rips through my veins like Drano. I end up in literal, physical pain.

But I’m hoping that maybe, just maybe, if I keep doing what I love, the people who love me for who I am will come around. Pretending to be something I’m not and then getting disappointed when someone I love doesn’t love me for who I am is kind of silly.

People-pleasing is over-rated and I’m sick of doing it. How can those I love see who I really am, if I spend all this time stressing out about being a perfect version of who I think they want me to be?

Maybe if I let go of all of these wild expectations I will find space to eat my gluten-free cupcakes alone and then laugh about Katy Perry with my mom, or maybe I’ll never really laugh about Katy Perry with my mom.

I don’t know, but what’s important is that I’m done caring—why should I base my happiness off that?

I’d rather eat my chocolate alone and she can eat hers. If we laugh, we laugh, if we don’t, then that’s okay too.

But maybe a little bit of the pain will go away, and if it doesn’t, I’ll take off that nasty push-up bra compressing my lumbar spine and go to a yoga class.

Love elephant and want to go steady?

Sign up for our (curated) daily and weekly newsletters!

Editorial Assistant: Bronwyn Petry/Editor: Bryonie Wise
Photos: Harout Arabian, flickr creative commons, elephant media archives

Leave a Thoughtful Comment

Read 0 comments and reply

Top Contributors Latest

Lizzie Kramer