I always had self image issues, even as a kid and especially as a teenager.
We don’t realise at this tender age if we don’t love ourselves for who we are then, that things don’t just miraculously change when we ‘grow up’.
It took me four decades to find out who I really was. That’s a long time to spend with someone and not really know them, isn’t it? Did I try? Of course I did and I was getting somewhere, but it slipped away at some point and I forgot to look again for quite a few years.
I was quite sad and angry with myself for a long time for letting it go so far.
I don’t know about you but when I spend time with, live with another person, I forget about myself. That can be quite liberating and freeing for a while but not when it is at the detriment to your own self, your needs, desires and what YOU want to get out of life.
I had a marriage like that. It lasted for seven years and every few years I would try to do something ‘for me’, that didn’t involve ‘us’. But nothing lasted that long because I always found myself feeling guilty for spending time doing things that just I liked to do.
They say hindsight is 20/20, it is, but it still doesn’t always highlight the undercurrents of any situation. We look back and think what we would have changed, what we would’ve done better. Would it of got us a different result?
Looking back on those days I now see how much of a people pleaser I was. That’s a bit scary as I always thought I was a bit of a rebel and liked to think for myself and outside the box when I did things. But to be honest I think I just told myself that so I wouldn’t have to look in the mirror and see how unhappy I really was.
Scroll forward ten years and I was still trying new hobbies on for size, I was still people pleasing (unknowingly) and still looking for something. But I just couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was.
I was out of my marriage and into a new relationship and had brought all my metaphorical baggage with me, lock stock and a very deep barrel.
Had I learned any lessons from a split marriage and living with someone else? At that point no. I was terrified it would all crumble around me again and the feeling of having no control over any of it, was like being swept down the rapids in a canoe with no paddle!
Scroll another three years – how scary is that, and things were changing again. My other half had to go where the work was and I spent a lot of time on my own. They say you can tell how happy you are by the amount of time you like to spend on your own.
Well I wasn’t doing it for my own benefit, I felt like I was being punished! Oh yes I really wasn’t digging my own company at that point and I was ‘looking’ for any way I could spend it with any one else but me, be it a job, clients, family. I would rather be busy than have to really look at myself in that mirror.
But the good news is it started to change. I decided to finally leave the big pity party I had joined, god -knows how many years back and finally catch myself on. No one can tell you to do this, it’s like giving up cigarettes, everyone knows how bad they are for you but it can only be the smoker who makes the decision to quit.
Well, I decided to quit my old lamentable me and rebrand myself – like Madonna! Hell if she could do it numerous times why the hell couldn’t I?
Firstly the things I had learned by some great books I had been reading was I had to love myself. That was a hard one, after forty years of not particulalry liking myself, especially the way I talked to myself in my head, had to change big time.
Damn I was a hard ass in my head. I was a supreme critic and judge of all things me in there and that had to stop. How does that even happen? Well for one I had to start making myself aware of what I was telling myself, I had to start tuning into that inner voice.
That’s not easy when you’ve been mostly on automatic pilot for most of your life. If I had to do one thing right now it was commit, commit to myself and be consistent with what I wanted to change. Hell, I’ve been teaching other people how to do this with their dogs for the past eight years. I could do this!
That was hard, it was a life time of bad habits. One thing that really turned it around for me was when I was told to embrace my feminine side.
‘What you trying to say?’ came up the inner voice with attidute, ah I see what you mean. So my first Feminine Project was to do something girlie, be that shopping, being creative, getting my nails done. Lots and lots of things came to mind and I let it mull around in there a while as I wanted to fully embrace this and get into the whole feel of it.
If you want to know what I did, read my post Have a ME day.
It was joyous and beyond all expectations and that was the first day that I fell back in love with me. It was like spending the whole day with my best friend and I finally saw and felt what all those books had been telling me.
But that was just the start of the journey.
I had to forgive myself. For forgetting who I was, for not following through on all those things I wanted to do. I had to forgive myself for not knowing all the answers and just surviving while I learnt new things. That’s what being human is all about, whether we can learn from our mistakes, change and make things better or just keep following old paths and seeing old stories repeat themselves.
I now follow my heart and intuition, it’s kind of scary but even though I feel resistance to it, it always keeps me right. I have more Happyness days now than anything else. Yes life still goes on around me and sometimes I feel it pull me down into those old ways, but more often than not, those lows are getting shorter and shorter.
Now it’s just an odd day here and there and I go with the flow and the ebbs as they say. My relationships in all their forms are also growing and changing into deeper, more meaningful ones because I now have more than I ever had to give.
Before I was giving my all and always feeling strained around the edges, tired and cranky when I had given more than my fair share. Now I can give all day because I can receive love just for me. I refuel every chance I get within a day by doing things I love, whether that’s taking time to read a book, go for a walk, meditate or just be still for a while and be me.
Going back to my centre and feeling like I am an intricate piece of this puzzle in the Universe and that I am as important as any other piece or person in that same whole picture is what fuels me these days.
Before I was a jigsaw piece without a puzzle. Now I know I have a part to play and not only am I the jigsaw piece, I am the puzzle 🙂
Now that’s deep!
Much love & Happyness dear friend