I had said I wasn’t going to call him, but I did. I did, because I liked him, or the way he made me feel. I liked how he put his arm around me and brought me in toward his chest. I liked how he invited me to bbqs and baseball games. I liked that he made it clear that he wanted to spend time with me, something I wasn’t really used to. Soon enough, I had fallen deep into the gray abyss of are we or aren’t we seeing each other. I had told myself if he said he didn’t want to be my boyfriend I wouldn’t see him anymore, and when he told me over wine that even if he wanted to be in a relationship he wasn’t sure if it would be with me, I poured him another glass.
So many times I’ve poured another glass of wine and looked the other way, because I didn’t want to face rejection. I stayed in limbo, mentally worn, and emotional wound, so I wouldn’t have to face the truth. The truth was like this big waterfall of insecurity pulsing through me. I knew that no matter whom I was with, I would do this to myself. I knew that I would sabotage something good, and stick to something bad. I knew that I would go against everything I was spouting to my friends and therapist and say yes when I wanted to say no, or it’s fine when I really did care. After twenty some years of being the same person in a relationship, how could I really trust myself to think the next encounter could be different?
With my head in my hands I wondered, what if the encounter was the same, but I was different? Then what? What if I cared about myself more? Or gave in to my wants and needs, respected what I was saying? What if I took responsibility for how I was feeling? What would my relationships look like then? Who would I be in a relationship if I was looking out for myself? What would a relationship look like if I trusted myself to do what was best for me?
Although all I was doing was asking questions, when I started to think about the answers, I felt a twinge of possibility. Asking questions gave me the opportunity to imagine a relationship that was different than the ones I’d been in. Asking questions gave me the chance to feel what it could be like to trust myself. So the next question was, well, how do I do it? How do I feel this way?
I had to go back to the basics. Strip away a lot of the stories I had been telling myself about myself. Identifying what were my stories and other people’s stories. I started watching how I spoke about myself to myself and to others. I learned that by being quiet and meditating I could listen to myself, give myself the attention I needed. By being quiet I could tap in to what lit me up inside, made me feel alive. The more time I spent with myself, the more I accepted myself. And forgave myself. I started to see myself with compassionate eyes instead of a headmistress like stare. Little-by-little, I was learning to take responsibility for my life. Learning how to care for myself, how to make myself a priority.
Alice Walker said, “The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” And when I re-read the first paragraph of this post I can see that was what I didn’t know at the time. I didn’t know that I had any power, or if I did, I didn’t believe in it.
All of us have the opportunity to live and love how we want to. We don’t have to be held back by our past experiences. All we need to make sure of is that we believe in our ability to take care of ourselves. To know, that no matter what, we’ll be okay, because we’re looking out for our own good. We’re taking responsibility for ourselves and how we live. Although it is a daily practice, the benefit is a lifetime of happiness.
What questions can you start asking today? In the comments below, finish the stem of this question
What would my life look like if I …
Then, feel the answer!