Part One: The Epiphany

Source of image: Pinterest

I was that blessing to every parent everywhere: the obedient child. I did as I was told. I never questioned authority. I dutifully respected my elders. I spoke when invited to speak and I kept my mouth firmly shut the rest of the time. I went to bed when I was sent to bed – hours before I was ready – without so much as a murmur of protest. I could enter a room without making so much as a wave.

Teachers generally liked me, or at the very least, barely noticed me. I was never the child being sent to the principal’s office; never the child in trouble. I never skipped school (or even a class). I never talked back.

I never asked why. At least, not out loud.

I wouldn’t know how much I had missed until I had my own children. Their endless curiosity endlessly fascinated me. Never did I tire of their ‘why?’ questions: no matter how many questions they asked. Every question intrigued me. Every query was a challenge: I always either had an answer or made sure that we found out the answer together.

But that people-pleasing side of me was such a hurdle! At some point in my thirties, I did become fully aware that I was not a happy camper. I did acknowledge how much anger bubbled just under the surface of my nice, quiet exterior. I did occasionally feel a resentment so all-consuming that it was sometimes hard for me just to function. And I did seek professional help – pretty early on in my single-mothering years. My first therapist told me he’d never had a client work so hard on getting better. Being a single Mom, I had precious few resources to squander. The way I looked at it, I told him, I had no intention of wasting my money on something that wasn’t going to improve my – and my children’s – lives. But oh, it’s hard to undo a lifetime of unhealthy behaviours! I would bumble along for many more years before I finally had the ultimate epiphany.

My breakthrough was so typically ‘me’: it was the summer of 2020 and I had gone to babysit my daughter’s cat for a few weeks.  Beneath my outwardly calm exterior, resentment was oozing out of my every pore. I was so angry I could barely function.

I am one of those people who has no idea what I am thinking until I write it down. And because I have never wanted to hurt anyone with the black thoughts that occasionally roll around in my anguished mind, many years ago, I started venting the worst of my horrible feelings in venomous, putrid, oozing letters to God. My relationship with God has always been very up-close-and-personal, not to mention rather irreverent. I figured that if God were well and truly there and listening, there would be nothing I couldn’t say; nothing I would have to hold back. He was supposed to love me no matter what and He was supposed to know what I was thinking anyway, so there wasn’t much point in not telling him everything.

And trust me, I did not hold back… For two weeks, I wrote and I wrote and… I wrote. For two weeks I put to paper every single thing that had been bothering me. For two weeks, my computer keys clicked pretty much non-stop as I my resentment flooded out of me.

At the time, my anger was mostly directed at my husband. It was August, 2020, and we had just weathered – like the rest of the world population – five months of solitary confinement together as the pandemic raged and scientists tried to figure out what to do about it. Like the rest of the world population, we had been bubbled together for months and like everyone else, the walls were closing in. My husband is the gregarious sort of person who loves nothing more than to be constantly on the go: visiting, chatting, debating and socialising. He’s also the sort of person who goes absolutely stir crazy if he has to wait for anything for more than say, two minutes, tops. After five months of being his one-and-only outlet for lively, gregarious conversation, I was ready to sell him to the lowest bidder. And while he tells me I never ‘grate on his nerves’, ask him how I am when he uses the dishcloth to wipe up the floor, or when I leave a cupboard door (or two) open, or when I watch him like a hawk in case he drops a dish (which he does with astonishing regularity).

I was not in a good place.

As I neared the end of my lengthy rant, I had finally calmed down and was ready to ask God for specific help. I am always careful not to ever ask for ‘things’. Or “stuff” Or miracles. Instead, I mostly ask for guidance. Under the circumstances, I determined, there wasn’t really anything wrong with me, but boy, did my husband need some guidance! So I ended my tirade with a loving and well-intentioned request: “Please help my husband, God. Please fix him.”

The older I get, the more convinced I am that God has a truly wicked sense of humour.

The very next morning, I woke with an unburdened feeling of peace. I spent a few loving moments with my grand-kitty as I unhurriedly made my breakfast and brewed myself a cup of coffee. Kitty and I padded into the living room where she kneaded her paws on my lap and prepared to snuggle and I – rant finally terminated – prepared to watch a nice YouTube video as I enjoyed my little breakfast.

I was scrolling through my home page when one caption particularly caught my eye: it was a video about a thing called ‘codependency’. I had heard the term, of course, but couldn’t quite recall the particulars. Aw heck, why not? I absently clicked on it and prepared to mindlessly watch as I munched.

It only took a minute or two for me to stop, mid-bite, as I froze in place. The video – every freaking word – was about me. People pleaser? Check. High anxiety? Check. Need for approval? Check. Controlling and Nitpicking? Check again. Poor boundaries? Oh, big check on that one. The list was a long one and I was ticking every box.

It was one of those moments in your life that you never forget. The epiphany. The major, life-altering understanding of something you have never been quite able to put your finger on. I knew that I was a people pleaser, of course, but I had never made the connection that I was my own worst enemy; that I was the cause of all the resentment and anger I had been carrying around with me my whole life. That no one but me could own this and do something about it. And I was incensed. This was God’s answer to my tirade??? This was God’s answer to my heartfelt request for help for ‘my husband’?? I was the problem??? I needed fixing??? Furious, I glared up and most irreverently addressed my Maker: “Are you kidding me???! Are you f _ _ ing kidding me???”

I did some stomping that day. And a lot of gesticulating. I also did a lot of swearing in French because it is a great language to swear in. And then I sat and did a lot of reading (like, weeks and weeks) about codependency. It’s been two years since that fateful epiphany and I would still qualify myself as a people-pleaser, but now I am a much happier, recovering people pleaser:

  • I say ‘no’ more easily now and with much less guilt
  • I stand up for myself – even when it’s really hard – and (respectfully) argue my own side in an argument (my husband – who could argue about the time of day – tells me loves this part)
  • I do my very best to speak my truth (one of the hardest things for a people pleaser) even when my heart is pounding out of my chest
  • I have identified healthy and unhealthy boundaries and I try – pretty much every day – to very consciously set and maintain my own
  • I am much more aware of when I am trying to be responsible for the happiness of family and friends
  • I try my best to prioritise my own needs (also really, really hard for a people pleaser)
  • I am actively taking much better care of my health and I am carefully managing my stress levels – or at least, acknowledging to myself when they are out of control

I expect that I am a little less ‘likeable’ than I used to be but oh, I am happier. And I am healthier.

And I ‘like’ me a whole lot more than I used to…

Patti Moore Wilson/©


NOTE: Part Two will be posted on November 19



Author: Patti Moore Wilson, wednesdayschild2

I write what I feel. And I rarely know exactly what I feel until I write. I have lived long enough to have known many joys and many sorrows. I have made many mistakes; I have forgiven myself for a few… I have learned that there are lessons in every step of this journey, if we only take the time to pay attention… I hope you will feel free to pick and choose the stories that resonate for you…

21 thoughts on “Part One: The Epiphany”

      1. That one is actually a French-from-France swear word and likely a little dated too (sort of like, ‘gosh darn it’). In Québec, most swear words come from the Catholic religion. And if you’re REALLY angry, the words are morphed into a brand-new word that sounds worse than the original – and kind of like something a lumberjack would say (if his Mom weren’t around 🙃). NOT very ladylike 🤣


  1. As I have gotten older, I have found myself engaging in self-reflection as to who I was, and who I am now, and even how I got from point A to point B. I don’t think I had an epiphany. I do think I’ve evolved into a way better person than I was decades ago. It all starts with us no matter how. Sounds like you absolutely had an epiphany, and I am certainly happy for you being happier as a result of it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I had a therapist I was on a first-name basis with a number of years back. And I KNOW she would be privately rolling her eyes at my “epiphany” as I am quite sure she talked to me about codependency (or at the very least, referred to the signs I was manifesting). It’s funny how we can sometimes be so blind to things that are so very obvious to others. I am so glad that you see – and are witness to – your own progress: I would wish that on everyone…🙏🙏🙏💕

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I think…I could trust being in a room with you! In fact I know I could. I’m a ‘people pleaser’ too, so quite understand, but am not a ‘push-over’ any more. A child of the thirties, I’m obviously older than you, when the more’s of the times were stricter and children really had to tow the line; were force-fed religion.. (I’m now a Humanist) while I had loving parents. World War 11 made an immense impression on me, with two separations (evacuations), I maybe grew up quicker than I otherwise might have done. Valuable lessons learned…It’s good to know you are in a happier place Patti – long may that be. Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What an amazingly lovely thing to say… I know that one of the idiosyncrasies of people pleasers is a tendency to be very careful before trusting ANYbody, so I deeply appreciated your comment… I had to look up Humanism and oh, I like it and will delve further: thank you for pointing me in that direction! I’m so sorry you grew up under the shadow of World War II. I have a few dear friends who did, as well and I can only imagine… So glad you stopped for a visit, Joy, and REALLY happy to have discovered your blog 🙂🙏💕


  3. Thank you for sharing the link to this post and the delightful and enlightening Lao Tzu quote! Your post made me wonder why it is that obedience is considered a virtue and creativity and critical thinking are not on the same list? I’m glad you found a way out, and I wish you encountered more teachers, earlier, like the ones Einstein was speaking of when he said “It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What a lovely and thoughtful reply 🙂 Thank you for taking a moment to read that post. It was a profoundly personal piece of writing for me and a bit scary to put myself out there. It’s also one of those posts I need to come back to from time to time, to give myself a pep talk when I find myself slipping two steps back (as folks are won’t to do). I love your question about obedience being considered a virtue, because it certainly is (and oh, I have always been good at that 🙄). I guess it comes back to that Lao Tzu quote: “Care what people think and you will always be their prisoner.” Our politicians (and our bosses and yes, even our parents) understand only too well the lengths people will go to, to be accepted… So glad you stopped in! 🙏💕🙂


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