Posts Tagged ‘being myself’

I told a friend (one of my best friends who I met after therapy) what I blogged about yesterday, and her response was surprise that I would ever try to be anything but me. She was truly perplexed that I would think that I needed to be anything other than myself. I was perplexed that she was perplexed.

Why have I been afraid to be me? It’s all shame-driven, which is why it has been so hard to shake. Here are criticisms I have heard about myself for my entire life:

  • Too intense
  • Talk too fast
  • Too “Type A”
  • Too passive/too headstrong (depending upon who is commenting)
  • Nerd/Geek (straight A’s, computer geek, etc.)
  • Too honest
  • Too committed (stay in things too long) and don’t try hard enough (again, depending upon who is commenting)
  • Too “perfect” (goody two shoes) and not good enough (again, depending upon who is commenting)
  • Too smart (make other people feel stupid)
  • Too nice/not nice enough (another depending upon the person)
  • Not good at “Southern Women” things – housekeeping, etc.
  • Lacking in social graces (learn through bumbling about basics like ask what to wear and what to bring when invited to someone’s house)

I come across as very confident, which many people (mostly pre-therapy people) seem to think needs to be knocked down a notch. I am actually an incredibly frightened person who has spent her life trying to be “perfect” so I won’t be abandoned. As you can see from my list, being “perfect” is hard to do when I am both too nice and not nice enough at the same time.

I am finished defining myself by anyone else’s list. Here is my own list that I will live by. People can take me or leave me, but these rules are replacing those that others have placed upon me:

  • I will be myself regardless of the setting – in personal relationships, professional relationships, and everything in between
  • I will be honest – not cruel and tactless, but honest in a diplomatic way
  • I give myself permission to make mistakes and view them as learning opportunities – If I cannot make a mistake in a relationship, then I don’t need that relationship
  • I will listen to my intuition and follow its lead – no more talking myself into staying in places that I have outgrown
  • I will be true to myself no matter the cost – no relationship in my life is worth abandoning myself for
  • I will set aside time each day for myself – to exercise, watch a comedy, read a book, do yoga, take a walk — something that is just for me
  • I will not take responsibility for anyone else’s side of a relationship – I am responsible for my own actions and reactions, not anyone else’s
  • I will keep telling myself that I will be OK no matter what life throws my way until I believe it – there is nothing and no one that I cannot survive losing
  • I will give myself the freedom to express whatever I am feeling, no matter how badly it feels, and learn how to feel my emotions without being washed away by them
  • I will not allow anyone else’s opinion of me to define me
  • I will keep telling myself that I love myself as I am until I believe it

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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Pond (c) Faith AllenSummer officially ends this week for me as my son returns to school, and I could not be more relieved. No, I am not talking about needing a break from my kid – I am talking about reaching the milestone that ends this particular season of my life.

This summer has been my most difficult one of my adult life. It started and ended with a sinus infection. I had two emotional breakdowns that my therapist calls “spiritual awakenings” – regardless of the label, they hurt like hell. My husband has been battling clinical depression. A dysfunctional friendship of almost a decade (predated therapy) went rocky…and then more rocky…and then ended. I am back to weekly therapy sessions after ending therapy ~ six years ago. I feel battered and bruised from this season of my life, but I am still standing.

When I entered into therapy, nobody told me about the cost. Yes, I knew it cost $X an hour, and I even knew that I was going to have to find an amazing amount of courage to face down my demons and make huge changes in my life. However, nobody told me that healing was like “dying” to my old self and starting anew with very little resembling my “old” life still being in it. The process reminds me of this Bible verse, which I won’t include so I don’t trigger anyone with religious triggers. Because I do have a strong faith, it does help to put what I am going through into a faith context.

A part of me wants to move across the country and start over since it seems that the healing process ultimately results in the ending of relationships that started before therapy. However, once I did an accounting, I realized that I was just about there, anyhow. I only have five people regularly in my life who were there before therapy – my husband, son, and father-in-law locally; and my sister and one friend from high school who live in another state. That’s it. After almost four decades of life, loving, investing, and caring, only five people I invested in remain. That’s really not worth moving across the country for!

It’s been very difficult and a long time coming, but I am finished playing my “role” in dysfunctional relationships. I am going to be “me,” and that is going to have to be enough. If it’s not, then the relationship is over. The people I have met after therapy don’t seem to have any issue with this. I can be myself 100%, even when I am having a bad day. And you know what? If the time comes that they cannot handle it, they don’t have to stay, either.

I am tired of apologizing for being me. I am tired of having to play games and say and do exactly the “right” thing so that other person can stay in dysfunctional comfort. This is who I am. Love me, hate me, or be indifferent to me, but I am not changing for you.

Photo credit: Faith Allen

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