Alison's Insights

Making Sense of Addiction Recovery in Midlife One Slow Deep Breath at a Time

Living My Life Through Your Eyes

I’m having a weird week.  There are a handful of things I know I need to do like work on my book proposal, take care of things around the house, get to meetings and be of service.  I know all that, but what’s happening is I don’t feel like doing any of it.

Lazy?  Maybe.  Do I just need a break?  Maybe.  I don’t know, what do you think?

There was a time when the answer to that question meant everything to me.  I needed other people to approve all the choices I made and the actions I took.  I can remember trying to anticipate what they’d think or what their facial expression would be in reaction to what I was about to do.  My obsessive desire to feel validated by other people was the only way I ever felt valuable in this world.

I lived my entire life through someone else’s eyes or rather a compilation of other people’s perspectives, certainly not my own.

I always, and I mean always, imagined what someone else would think.  It could be friends, bosses, co-workers, family members, ex-boyfriends, even strangers in an airport, it didn’t matter.  What mattered was what I assumed they’d think relative to what I was doing, how I looked and how I sounded when I talked.  In other words, I wanted other people to approve me.

I honestly cannot recall one decision I ever made when I thought to myself, “this is right for me and I’m completely cool with it.”  On the outside I did my best to come across with conviction, but on the inside I never felt fully OK with my own choices.  Perhaps better said, I never trusted my own choices so I’d look to someone else for approval.  Once received I’d feel inwardly assured my decision was acceptable and therefore I was acceptable.  Rarely did I make a move without regarding the opinion of others.

I say rarely because there were times when I seemingly didn’t care about what other people thought, when I’d have a glass of wine at 9am or weigh myself for the 15th time in one day.  I thought doing those things were my little secrets, away from the watchful, judging eyes of someone else.

Based upon recovery hindsight, certainly not what I knew at the time,  in those moments I was acting out of defiance to a life led by others. In a haze of addictive living, I was actually trying to prove I was independent from them.  Yet in reality I was becoming more dependent as it was only by gaining approval of something else that I could overcome the paralyzing guilt and shame for the addictive behaviors.

Clearly my seeking independence in this fashion was not the best course of action.  It led me right into treatment centers trying to unravel all that secret defiance and weave together what was to become a more authentic me.

Today I don’t live my life through the eyes of someone else.  I am purposefully moving forward through my own.  I’ve learned to stop, breathe, and listen to that little inner voice of mine to then step forward with confidence.  What matters to me today is, in my eyes, I’m doing just fine.

So I think I’ll make a cup of tea, click over to my book proposal and do some writing.  Amazing how inspiring it can be when I share my truth like I’ve just done here.

If you can relate to any of this, I’d love for you to share a comment.

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4 thoughts on “Living My Life Through Your Eyes

  1. Laura on said:

    What an “Insight”. I as well have spent a lifetime worrying about what others thought about me. Did I look perfect today? Was my decision the right one for everyone involved? Did I say the correct words? Give the correct answer?
    Oh my….exhausting!
    Thank you for the reminder to lighten up. Be yourself and live this life for you.


    • Leanne Steuer on said:

      Thank you. My core root seems to be that I don’t matter, therefore whatever I think of doing or being involved in is not right, unimportant or just stupid. I have seen myself as extreemly unwise (I developed this eating disorder, didn’t I) I like the reminder of the still small voice. I must remember it’s true. That voice is my truth . Clearing the wreckage of the past will sharpen that voice. I can trust it more than outside forces. I long for signifigance!

      Leanne, FL

    • Thank you Laura and Leann! Yes, it is empowering to finally realize we have it within ourselves to feel valued and worthy. We no longer need to rely on others for that level of acceptance. XO

  2. EllePea on said:

    This is exactly how I feel. I am stuck in the position you once were. How did you possibly shift yourself? Sure, one gets those moments of clarity for a few hours, then it goes right back to how it was before you realize it. How does one make a permanent shift. It’s good to know that I’m not alone in this approach to life, and that there is hope.

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