Expendable

Expendable

Over the past few years, I have come to understand I have lived an expendable life.  Before you lecture me, I want to be clear that I don’t believe my life has been for nothing.  I mean I have lived a life that was expendable to others.  The people in my childhood saw me as a commodity.  I was something to be used up and thrown away.  This was a literal interpretation of my experiences.  I was sold to others for the purpose of making money.  I was completely expendable, even to the very people who were supposed to love me unconditionally.

This explains why I have spent my adult life trying to prove to others I was worth something.  I have always wanted people to believe I mattered.  And I have done almost anything to convince them of it.

In relationships, I have worked hard to matter to the other person.  I have done whatever it took to keep them around.  I have worked hard to provide everything they could possibly need.  And it always ended the same way.  I got angry and exhausted, while the other person grew tired of using me up.  In the end, I became expendable once again.

In my parenting, I have hovered over my children.  I had to make it clear that they needed me to protect them and care for them in every way.  I wanted them to know how much I cared for them and I wasn’t sure how else to show it.  Deep emotional connection wasn’t available to me, so I would take care of all their needs.  Unfortunately, this left my children with anxiety and a lack of confidence about their own abilities.  And honestly, it has taken tremendous effort to turn that around.

At work, I have gone above and beyond my duties in every job.  I have worked so hard at times, I didn’t remember to eat, sleep or go to the bathroom.  The more appreciation I got, the harder I worked.  Because my inner parts related work in adulthood to school in childhood, this makes sense.  School was the only part of my childhood where the rules made sense and I could succeed.  So I poured everything into it.  And I did the same with work.  And while I did succeed on many levels, my bosses had a tendency to ask for more and more until I felt my only option was to leave the job.

There were three problems with this approach.  First, I always picked the wrong adults to “prove myself” to.  They were always the people who carried the traits of my abusers.  They were never going to care about me.  Second, I was never going to convince anyone of my worth when I didn’t believe in it myself.  I was focusing on the wrong thing.  I was focusing on how I could add value to their lives by doing more of what they needed.  I was focusing on being needed.  When in reality, it was supposed to be about connection.  It is a lack of connection that makes people walk away.  Third, I projected it to others.  I treated others as if they were expendable too.  People became a “means to an end” much like I was.  If I didn’t need them, I didn’t spend time with them.  Once again, need replaced connection in relationship.

I am still learning how to make connection with others.  There are so many reasons for that.  But it comes down to the fact that nobody ever taught me how to make connection.  I was always valued for what I could do for others.  I don’t even know what it means to be valued for me.  Over the past week, as usually happens when I am working through a belief, the triggers have been plentiful.  Several situations have popped up to let me know that I can be dropped just like that.  And it is breaking my heart on so many levels.  But the hardest part of this work is recognizing that despite my best efforts, I can’t make somebody decide that I matter.  I can only work to be the truest version of myself that I can possibly be.  And I can put myself out there in that way.  If that doesn’t work for people, I can let them walk away while I stand in my integrity.

And while that hurts my inner parts, I also know that I have to stop exhausting myself to make others realize my worth.  I have to know my worth so deeply others can’t make me question it.  And I have to make connection from that place.  They may leave.  But I will know I did the most powerful, worthy and indispensable thing I could do.

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29 Comments

  1. Oh I just loved this! You are so strong and brave and real. Truly indispensable.

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  2. Thank you for all of your insight, for sharing, for being so very authentic in your self examination that your epiphanies are also those of others. They are definitely congruent with mine.

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    • Thank you so much Monique!

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  3. Truly authentic and such honesty about what you endured. Hugs xx

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    • Thank you so much Lorna!!

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  4. The strength of the human spirit to overcome adversity and seek and create connection with self and others is magical!

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  5. I sure can relate. I also am learning to accept that if they walk away it is more about them than me. It has taken along time to see that.

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    • It seems like one of the more difficult lessons to learn.

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  6. I can’t believe this post…this is exactly what has been coming up for me recently. It has been shattering to discover that people who I thought would be there for me in my vulnerability just have not been able to ‘stay’ with me. Their defences have not made it possible. However I have been authentic in my connection with them and then in the aftermath of emotions for me. I had a fantasy that if only I could let people in then things could be different. They would listen and be there. That fantasy has been severely challenged. However, I have had to let people go. People who I genuinely thought would stay with me have had to go. When I accept myself more I will have people come in to my life who will be able to stay. Tough lessons. Another step in this winding road. Thanks for your post.

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    • I am so sorry to hear you are experiencing this Emily. I know you will find people who can truly be there for you as you continue your journey toward self-acceptance. Sending my love and light too you my friend!

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    • Me too, Emily. I’ve lost several friends the last few years. Only people who have been through the fire and come out stronger, can truly be there for others (hear their stories). I’ve lowered my expectations…people can be very disappointing. I am hoping, when I “project” that I love myself, the right people will come into my life. I’m trying to give myself the things my parents were not able to give me. Take care of yourself. ♥

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  7. Wow almost all of your post relate to me somehow, same feelings & thoughts. Thank you for sharing your truth.You give people like me hope when I saw none.

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    • Thank you so much Chandra!

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  8. I can totally relate to all of this. I needed to read this today and know that I’m not alone

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  9. Hi Elisabeth,
    wow, your honesty as always is awe inspiring. I say this as I see you as some one who is “sorted” who knows how to do this trauma recovery thing, so when you show such absolute vulnerability, I am gob smacked.
    Through you I am learning that at every stage of recovery it is ok to be vulnerable and to show this is not a sign of weakness but strength.
    I think before I have always had to hide my vulnerability even from myself. So now I am getting comfortable with feeling vulnerable the next stage for me is to be able to be comfortable sharing my vulnerabilities with others.
    A big hug to you Elisabeth as you really do shine a light

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    • Thank you Yvette! The expression of vulnerability is a huge part of recovery. The more vulnerable you can be, the stronger you are becoming. It seems counter intuitive to how I was “trained” to think. ❤️❤️

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  10. Oh wow. Once again you blog about me. LOL So glad I have a session with you in 12 hours.

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    • Love to you Rae! Talk soon.

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  11. Reading this left me speechless, you are an awesome lady. I can just repeat your words: “I have to know my worth so deeply others can’t make me question it. And I have to make connection from that place.” Big big hug dear Elizabeth, you now have a special place in my heart!

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  12. This is awesome! So many things you tell yourself it’s just quirks only to know it’s from
    Trauma and can be changed!

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    • So many times we excuse behaviors as innate because let’s face it, change is so hard. But we can change if we really want it. ❤️

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  13. Wow! This is perfect timing. I needed to read this. I’ve had the same realizations, but it’s so hard to break my people-pleasing patterns. I put my self worth in the hands of others. And as you said, I choose the wrong people to impress. I give and give out of desperation until I become exhausted and resentful and burnt out. But it’s still hard to imagine that I’m “okay” without pushing myself past my limitations. My whole life was about ignoring my limitations. Push! Push! Push! And now I’m starting to accept my limitations. It’s both a relief and terrifying. Who am I if I’m not an over-achiever? Will I ever be good enough? I guess I’m figuring that out.

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    • That is brilliant awareness Andrea! I have struggled with that same issue with my own identity. But those over-critical people don’t get to tell us who we are.

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  14. Thank you Elisabeth for being so brave and inspiring us all!

    To add further to your comments above – If ‘they’ walk away from you then consider it a blessing as ‘they’ were meant to move on. It reminds me of a quote (I will paraphrase as I do not recall it word for word – and my apologies for whoever wrote it as again I do not recall but I do not claim ownership of the quote)

    “Some people will join us on our journey for just a moment in time, it may be to teach us a lesson, it may be to travel side-by-side for a short period of time, again to add to our journey or assist us with our learnings and then there are those who may join us and walk with us together for a more lengthy time perhaps enhancing our experience of joy, happiness, perhaps teaching us about connection, worthiness, authenticity but all the while we are equal – not less than nor more than – just expanding, evolving, learning. Part of that learning is to realize that we are “good enough” “worthy” and “loved” all on our own and those that may join us on our journey do not define us thus if they leave we are still…as we are “loved, worthy and good enough”…..we always were. <3 xoxoxo

    Reply

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