The Good Girl


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From:The Wounded Heart

The Good Girl

The Good Girl is the classic helper, a kind hearted, gentle woman who lives to keep the peace and sustain those with whom she is in relationship no matter what the cost may be to her.

The Good Girl is pleasant but rarely alive. The woman who described herself as a "house with the lights on, but never at home" was a Good Girl. She responded with pleasant warmth and social ease, but she never viewed herself as alive within herself. The idea that Christ makes His home in us always struck her as a strange thought, since she didn't even live within herself.

The Internal Dynamics

The internal world of the Good Girl is full of self-contempt, which is usually private and hidden. For example, Good Girls will likely struggle with fantasies and the sexualization of close relationships but will pay a terrible price for their sin. The penalty will be heavy-handed self-hatred and contempt, often intensified by lengthy periods of penance and guilt ridden restitution. After time, the burden that comes from feeling sexually alive requires too great a price, therefore sexual realities are either forbidden or permitted only if the soul is disengaged.

The pattern of limiting and controlling emotion is true in other areas as well. The Good Girl allows herself only a small portion of pleasure or pain. Her soul is disengaged from most feelings except guilt. If a Good Girl is hurt by someone, she is likely to feel pain only up to the point where she feels either too intense or too angry, then the hurt will dissipate into guilt: "I know I shouldn't feel so hurt," or "I am so terrible for not forgiving her but I feel so helpless." The guilt often intensifies her sense of alienation and discord in relationships.

A number of Good Girls have acknowledged that they feel as if they don't have a "voice." One woman recalled watching her two-year-old son play with an older boy who hit her son in the head with a toy. The other boy's mother was in the room so my client turned her back on the assault and for a time ignored her son's tears. Later, she felt speechless and powerless to do anything to protect her son. The internal world of the Good Girl is controlled, lonely, passive and full of self contempt.

External Dynamics

The external world of the Good Girl is usually organized (but never sufficiently in control), pleasant (but rarely alive), and sacrificial (but seldom inviting). The Good Girl is often an energetic worker,  organizer, and performer, but a woman who lacks courage and godly humility to impose on others. Consequently as long as her effort is sufficient to resolve a matter, it usually goes well , but when it requires delegating or direct solicitation of help, then either the task or the Good Girl unravels.

The Good Girl would rather allow her health to deteriorate than ask for help. One Good Girl , who had hernia surgery three weeks after giving birth by C-section,was told to stay in bed for at least a week. Food was to be provided, and her home was to be cleaned by friends and church acquaintances. Before each person arrived to "help," however, she cleaned the house and washed the dishes so that no one would be inconvenienced.

A Good Girl faced the world alone and usually manages well, until the inevitable limits of her physical and mental health are stretched beyond the breaking point. She is organized and organized in her lonely war, but she is aware that her unseen, fragile core may come unglued if deep realities are faced.

One Good Girl described her style of relating as "plastic fruit." The appearance was good and tasty, but something real, alive and nourishing was missing. One husband of a Good Girl said, "I've never worried about my wife's fidelity, but most of the time it doesn't really matter since she won't give herself to me anyway." Her husband felt both respect and contempt for his martyr-wife. She was faithful, responsible, clean, orderly, reverent, and always prepared, but she lacked the passion of soul to yell when he was jerk and the freedom of soul to laugh when he told an uproariously funny story. The Good Girl lives without passion for anything or anyone other than the drive to keep things smooth and

The Good Girl, a martyr, sacrificially gives without ever inviting the recipient to taste or enjoy her soul. A Good Girl is far more comfortable in giving  her husband or friends her hands than her heart. If a friend points out the contradiction between receiving her help instead of her love, guilt, self-contempt, and depression can easily occur. For that reason, many man married to Good Girls learn that it doesn't pay to bring up problems because the confrontation will be met by or hurt withdrawal.

A Good Girl is also likely to be a person who works, that is overworks, at relationships. She will not rest until she thinks that others are pleased with her. I've know Good Girls who would babysit sick children, risking infections of their own kids, simply because Good Girls cannot stand to say no. For the Good Girl, peace and harmony must be assured, no matter what the cost, nor how little the gain. The thought that someone may be upset by her actions might cause a Good Girl a loss of appetite or a sleepless night. One can imagine how she is to ask for forgiveness. She will likely be a professional apologizer. Asking for forgiveness, or saying I'm sorry, looks so Christian, but in fact is often a demand on others that they be pleased with her. In that sense, her apologizing is self-centered and a burden on others who must continually reassure the "sinner" that she is still welcome and wanted.

The effect of a Good Girl's style of relating is of gain superficial involvement from others without earning their deep respect. A  Good Girl's hard work is often designed to get other to marvel over her commitment. zeal or love. In truth her sacrifice is often seen as subtly manipulative and empty. The person involved with a Good Girl often feels invited to use or take her for granted. Who wouldn't like someone who lives to tend to the nuisance details of life for your sake? There ma be no desire to use the Good Girl, but it is almost impossible not to step on her as she labors underfoot to keep the path clean and trouble free.

It is not hard to see that the Good Girl is a woman who has disengaged herself from the wounds of her soul. In many cases, she will recall some elements of her past abuse but will either mislabel them or believe that were her fault. Often she was an ally of the abuser, or at least the ready helper to whom others turned to for comfort and support. She was the good listener who was valued for her care and used because she was quiet. She often looks comfortable in her attractive clothes or pretty in her Sunday dress, but at heart, she is critical, and even hateful, toward herself as a woman. She has handled the damage of abuse by faithfully enduring the repeated mistreatment by others with quiet, resilient, pleasant detachment





























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