Facing our inner selves is the only way to be free
If it’s not about where we are physically, but instead where we are within ourselves, everything becomes clearer.
If we are willing to admit that it’s not someone else but ourselves, we can make changes that come from within us, from our heart.
Sometimes that still means we need to leave a situation, like I left my fiance because he was verbally abusive, but there are times when it’s not the situation but the way we’re feeling about ourselves.
I have spent years coming to terms with who I am. And the choices I’ve made that have affected my life. A lot of them were made because I didn’t really know myself as well as I could have, and was reacting to past pain from early childhood abuse.
It is not an easy process facing that abuse again as an adult and laying it to rest. I had to admit that I felt unworthy of love, ashamed that I was mistreated and that I learned to feel I deserved the abuse because I wasn’t enough of one thing or too much of another.
And it seemed easier to not face it at all at times.
It was only once I had my breakdown that I knew not listening to myself wasn’t working at all. That I couldn’t sustain the denial any longer. As my doctor said, “Your cup has run over.” And not in a good way.
It was only then that I actually gave myself the permission to look completely within because I knew if I didn’t I wouldn’t come back to who I really am. That I’d only be a partial version of myself still stuck following other people’s expectations.
I was proud of myself for leaving my fiance. I didn’t want another relationship where I was blamed for the other person’s mental illness. But I didn’t need to live alone for as long as I thought to find out what and who is truly important in my life.
Many things have come clear since I decided to move back with my dad and son.
I think because of being abused I learned to take life very seriously from a young age. That caused me to be hyper sensitive to other people’s moods as a defense mechanism. The problem is once you get good at it it’s very hard to turn off. So I could sense everyone’s moods, even the people who really aren’t a part of my life.
This caused me a lot of stress because I’d internalized that becoming a chameleon was the only way I could survive. The only way I’d have enough food, clothes and above all love. I’m sure many abused kids grow up to feel this way.
But then there’s that inner rebel that says, “Hey, I’m good enough just as I am!” So there’s this constant battle going on within you. Not good enough, good enough. I used to have that battle, but now it’s over.
I have finally laid it to rest.
My son showed me a video last night of how small the earth is in relation to the rest of the universe, and it hit me how seriously we’re brought up to take ourselves. I believe this happens because so many of us are totally disconnected from ourselves. And it’s true that life looks very serious when you are reacting to everyone and everything outside of yourself.
But because I no longer do that I’m starting to understand more and more what inner stillness is. And how following our heart is really the only way to find the inner peace Eckhart Tolle, Thich Nhat Hanh, Louise Hay and others regularly talk or talked about. (RIP Louise Hay.)
I no longer take life personally. I now know that other people treat me the way they do because of who they are, not who I am.
So, if someone is kind and loving to me consistently then that is who they are. And if they are not then that is also who they are. Neither situation has anything whatever to do with me.
But I can choose who I want to be with. And above all who I want to be.
The rest is unimportant.
From the series, Because I’m a woman and because I can! by Jacqueline Snider, writer and editor
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