I was recently asked if I recognised that I had adopted a role as a child, of being the conscience of my parents, which quickly made sense to me because I had the people pleasing habit, which is about showing other people how to behave. It’s like, ‘I did this so you should do that’ (the inferred reciprocal behaviour) or ‘I did this despite the fact that you did/do [some form of unwanted behaviour] so you should reward what I did with the [reciprocal behaviour] and correct things’.
I on some level hoped to activate their conscience so that they they would meet my needs, because like so many people I’ve come across through the blog over the years, I didn’t know any other way how.
When my efforts made no real difference and even led to criticism, I then used this multifaceted role, which included being over-responsible, having to be perfect, having to achieve but also to a particular standard to set an example to my siblings and to also fly the flag, as well as being fixer etc, to make myself purposeful by being a conscience wingman.
‘Don’t have a conscience? No problem! I’ll live it for you!’
This meant that while I hoped they (and later boyfriends) would change, I was thinking that at least I’d be useful in having the job of knowing what was right and wrong and so effectively, I’d get to right the wrongs of their past and in turn be free to move on and be me. I’ve been that quintessential over-responsible child as well as adult, who thought it was my job to keep everyone ‘safe’.
As I turned this idea of being someone’s conscience over in my mind, I was struck by this mental picture of a multitude of Reclaimers who in their efforts to please, have acted as the guide to other people’s behaviour, often going out with at best, narcissistically inclined folk and at worst, full-blown narcissists, who lacked empathy.