A relative of mine, I’ll call her “Sue”, has a need to feel important. I know we all have one in our families. A person who has to shine, be loud, draw attention, drink too much, etc. It took me my whole life to realize why Sue acts the way she does.
Sue has had a hard life. I know she felt her parents favored her sibling, which was really a terrible way to live growing up. I know she felt she was never good enough. Her old stories would come out once in a while and she used to comment on how her sibling could do no wrong in the eyes of her parents. I don’t think she has ever let it go.
Sue’s husband was unfaithful. That is probably one of the worst things, besides an illness, that you would have to go through. In seeing her experience this horrible situation, I told my husband, before we were married, that if he felt he had to cheat on me to let me know, that I would release him from our relationship rather than go through what Sue experienced.
Sue remarried. I know her relationship with her new husband is good some of the time, but he has moments when he is truly unkind. I also think that he values hunting and watching sports on TV more than spending time with her, which is really sad.
So Sue looks for ways to make herself happy. She shops and she bakes. Baking has become an obsession. She makes cookies, chocolate or cakes and brings them to family functions, work and parties. When she brings the baked goods to an occasion she has to show off the dessert — even at inconvenient times. I never could understand it. You could be pouring out a pot of boiling water and Sue would be there with a cake in your face telling you to check it out and to see how beautiful it was, etc. When Sue bakes, the baked goods MUST be the center of attention, no matter what the occasion — even during a Sweet 16 or a wedding, when baked goods really should not be all that important.
I never really thought much about it except that it would annoy me to the point where I would become frustrated and angry. I knew Sue meant well and had worked hard to create whatever she baked, which made me feel even worse that I was frustrated and angry over the whole attention seeking situation in the first place.
I have been reading a lot and things have become a little clearer to me lately. A book I read, The Answers, by Karen Garvey, talks about people doing the best they can at the present time. The fact that I could not figure out why baked goods had to be such a big deal annoyed me.
Today the lightbulb finally went off.
I don’t think Sue has ever felt important. Not in her whole life. Not to her parents, her first husband, or her second husband. She needs to feel important. And she feels important when she shows off her baked goods.
Think of others you might know that buy flashy cars, fancy clothing, maybe things they cannot afford, or someone who does things that are shocking. Why? I guess they are looking for something. Maybe they’re trying to find a way to fill a void.
So I realize that, sometimes, we need to look a little deeper into why someone is doing something to understand. You know Newton’s Law, to every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction — even though this isn’t physics related, I think this could apply here. Sue’s feelings cause her actions.
acknowledging why she behaves the way she does will allow me to modify my reaction. Without much effort, I know I can make Sue feel important and shine. And, maybe, one day Sue will realize she is important and enable herself to be happy.
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