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I found a sign on Facebook recently that read, “You don’t find yourself. You create yourself.” I both agree and disagree with that.
Sometimes we do lose ourselves. The things that happen to us when we have little control can bury us. We get used to having those walls around us. They become the devil we know which is more comfortable than facing the world around us.
Our battle scars become security blankets that we cling to. The stuff we have no control over, the stuff other people do to us, things that happen to us as kids… these things Do Not define who we are.
When I was 12 years old I was molested by a stranger in my neighborhood. It was a one time thing, but once was enough. That one moment was enough to start building my walls. One negative brick at a time it grew higher.
Don’t show any cleavage. Hide the curves. Don’t dress in a way that will draw attention. Does it show? Can anybody else tell it happened? Why me? What did I do? Is this how I’m supposed to be treated? Is this all I’m worthy of?
When you can’t find the answers you hide behind those walls. You find a way to distract your mind so you don’t think about it, so you don’t feel that pain, anguish, fear, despair.
If you keep building that wall you lose yourself inside a dusty shell. It is possible to find you way out, though. Want some bread crumbs?
Start with your head:
Who else is in there? Look in the mirror and say out loud the first thing that pops into your head. Is it negative or positive? If you’ve survived any type of abuse, I’ll bet you dollars to doughnuts it’s something negative that someone else has said to you. Well, ya know what? THEY LIED!!!
You are a beautiful person on the inside and a beautiful person on the outside. You are worthy of being loved and cared for. You deserve joy and happiness and laughter and respect.
No one can pass you on the street and know that someone hurt you. It is your choice if you want to share that with someone. Nobody needs to know it happened. But you need to know that it was not your fault. Let me repeat that: It was not your fault!
Let’s add your heart to the conversation:
You have to forgive yourself. We can’t always speak up for ourselves. That does not mean you’re to blame for it. If you think you should have told someone or you should have fought back or you should have done something to stop it… forgive yourself and let go of any responsibility.
Your choice was taken from you. You are not responsible for the actions of another person.
Time for some elbow grease:
Every morning, look in the mirror and tell yourself, “I am a beautiful person.” Keep doing this until you can look yourself in the eye and not flinch when you say it.
Then add this, “I am worthy of love and happiness.” Keep saying it until you believe it. You also have to start packing up all the negative emotion and set it at the curb.
Take one thing or one person, forgive yourself and forgive them for one action. Imagine it as a ball of negative energy. Let the air out of it and trash it! Keep doing this until you can let go of it and not look back at it.
Start with small stuff and work your way up to the big stuff. It’s work, but once you start doing it you will feel lighter, brighter, freer. Every time you push that trash to the curb another brick comes off the wall.
Let in the light and the fresh air. Set aside the baggage and open your hands. If you hold tight to the negative of your past your hands have no room to take hold of something new and positive.
There are moments I still have to deal with those memories. I don’t talk to a lot of older men and I don’t linger in places when I’m alone. But I no longer feel the need to ram my car into any man who looks like the old man who attacked me.
I’m not afraid to be who I am. I’m still knocking down a few bricks, but the walls are gone. I know I deserve to live my life without fear and shame. And I will not give that sick old bastard any more control of my life. It is my choice to let go of the shame, embarrassment, anger, fear, pain. I choose to let go of the negative and reach for the positive.
This is my life, and I’ll share it with the people I choose to open up to. It’s up to me how many people I let in. And I will not let my past keep me closed off to the possibilities before me. I have a whole world to explore and people to meet. I’ve knocked down the walls. My hands and heart are open. Take my hand…
What defines a healthy relationship? Friendship, trust, companionship, passion, emotion. It’s difficult to find all of these things in another person. Sometimes we take a ‘3 out of 5’ compromise and hope for the best. But is that really being fair to ourselves? Why settle? And why do we accept that as an option?
You may think the reasons people do things are so many and varied it would be impossible to generalize them. And you’re probably close to right. But there are some common themes.
A friend of mine is a good example of these themes. Let’s call her Judy. Judy only dates married men. This is a defense mechanism, a built-in obstacle. She doesn’t have to fear being hurt because there is no commitment, no emotional investment. It also means there is no chance at complete happiness because the man is unavailable for that type of relationship.
One of the biggest mistakes people make is putting their own obstacles in their path. Judy does this. If a man gets too close, her children become the reason she can’t get deeper into a relationship. The kids need me, I can’t meet tonight. When the kids are grown I’ll look for someone. An occasional evening is a lot safer than a lifetime. If things get too intense, she steps back into the familiar.
Another way we stay in that comfort zone is to enable people to behave the way we feel safest with. Judy fears getting hurt by a potential partner. So she seeks out men who are not available for more than friendship with benefits. She has no commitment to anyone, but she will help them cheat because she knows what behaviors to expect.
Sometimes people throw a wrench into the plan. Judy had one suitor who offered to leave his wife for her. After the initial Oh $#!%, Judy turned him down and walked away. She doesn’t want a relationship with a cheater. She’s aware of the inherent dangers of a cheating partner. That’s why she keeps them at arm’s length. Granted, some people can break old habits, but in general once a cheater always a cheater.
In my last post I mentioned people who are continually getting hurt by putting themselves in the same type of relationship over and over again. It’s the same thing as Judy. Fear of stepping out of that comfort zone drives her back into old habits. Losing someone hurts. Seeking out that pain will not make you happy. Happiness is in letting go of those fears and inhibitions.
Can you trust yourself? That is really the question. Can you be honest enough with yourself to see the patterns in your own behavior? Do you want to put your hand in the flame and get burned again? Respect that pain but don’t fear it. Fear of a thing will control you. You have to break the old patterns and trust yourself to take a step in a new direction. Lying to yourself won’t get you anywhere you want to be.