I have spent a large portion of my life being told how I feel, what I am thinking, and who I am. This began when I was very young, and has been perpetuated by many other relationships throughout my life. It took me a long time to realize that this was happening, and that in most cases I didn't actually think or feel the way others said. The saying goes, 'once you see the pattern, it cannot be unseen.' I can affirm this. I see it in so many of my interactions with people I have known my entire life. In fact, it happened recently. Someone that cares for me greatly told me that I was not happy. At first I just absorbed it, clearly they know better than me. And then it hit me, no the fuck they don't. They are not actually very present in my life. I call them to check in and say hello, and sometimes I share the hard stuff...but mostly I don't anymore. Because then I hear how they think I feel or am doing. I am learning that often when others are unhappy, they project these feelings onto situations/people/etc. Misery loves company. I have done this before, certainly. I am no saint. And yet, I am NOT unhappy. Now, if you knew my current life situation and the shit I am going through, you might say...but wait, what about all of this?
You are right, right now I am immersed in a tremendously difficult situation that produces a lot of hurt and pain and unhappy MOMENTS. I am NOT unhappy. I am actually more content and find myself enjoying life more now than I have in a long time. I have deep connections with amazing friends that have become my chosen family. People that love me and accept me just as I am; and when they call me out on my shit, it is not degrading. There is no "you are doing this wrong" or "you need to try harder" or "you are not getting the help you need." Because they all know that only I can truly determine what I need. They don't let me settle in to old habits, and when I am working hard, they lift me up by reminding me that progress and change are slow. I am putting in the time and effort. From their end, they can see my growth. They have open minds and a deep appreciation for personal growth and healing. They never hesitate to remind me of where I was, and where I am now. THAT is what unconditional love is y'all. THAT is what true empathy and caring looks like. My friends don't tell me how I feel or what I am thinking. They ask me, and then sit back and listen. Really listen.
So, back to that current life situation. I thought long and hard about what to say about this. I wasn't sure whether I could write about it, I fucking hate saying it out loud. I feel like the villain in the hero's story. I'm not. I am just a human being, facing my very human truths. My feelings. See above for why I don't pay much attention to my own feelings. I even got to a point where I stopped listening to my killer intuition, because clearly others knew me and my life better. The thing is, they don't. Which is why I am here now, sitting in a coffee shop, typing away about how I feel. How I really feel. Lost, hurt, angry, yet...content, whole, healing, interspersed with deep moments of peace. I once thought feelings existed one at a time. You are either happy or sad or mad or excited, you get the idea. Since I was so busy drowning them out and dulling them in any way possible, I probably was only ever capable of seeing one emotion at a time. This is not how emotions exist. They are a beautiful and colorful mosaic. It is entirely possible to experience bliss while grieving. Or be at peace with pain. Find laughter in sorrow. Find happiness in anger.
The possibilities are limitless.
I am grieving. I am grieving a great gaping wound that was brought about by my acknowledging how I truly feel. The hurt that was leaving deep wounds, upon my own deeper wounds. I fully accept my role in this grief. I entered into something long before I was ready, or even capable of giving myself fully to another. I didn't know this until very recently. And when the truth began seeping in, I railed against it with all my might. I fought as hard as possible. I hurt myself more in the process, but dammit...I wasn't going down without a fight. Let it never be said that I quit. No. I have not quit anything. I have accepted where I am, and I am letting go. It should be no surprise that I am not proficient at letting go. I would prefer to hold on tightly to what I believe is to be the way...my way. Like a stubborn and willful child, disregarding the signs, disregarding my own feelings. So what if it hurts, it's what I know. Except I don't want to just know the hurt. I want a chance to see all of the beauty too. Since this process began, I have lived great moments of beauty. I have lost myself in moments of joy. I have found true connection with myself and others. At times I was so caught up in it, I thought of nothing but that moment. Fully existing in the now. Other times I felt guilty, how could I laugh and enjoy myself while grieving. Because emotions are a mosaic, never to be experienced in the singular.
No. Please do not worry about me. I am quite happy. I am quite capable of experiencing joy, even now. Is every moment wonderfully awesome? Of course not. That's not what life is supposed to be. And I am letting go of my expectations of such, as well as the expectations others hold for me. I am not defined by the thoughts and fears inside others' heads. I define me. And I quite like the definition that is being created as I heal and grow into the full person I am meant to be. I may have lost, I may be alone at times. I may even nurse an absurd fear that I will never find the deep love I dreamed of as a little girl, but it is only a fear. We are all worthy and capable of great love.
My great hope for the future is that I may share my discovery with others. That through my lessons others may come to see themselves fully. Perhaps you have also allowed others definitions and words to shape you and your life. Perhaps you have feared deep connections. Perhaps you do not even know what it is you seek. All of this is ok. And to begin, all you need to do is look at yourself. Take the time to really look at you. Are you the person your younger self would want you to be? Are you ready to be THAT person? I believe you are. Acceptance begins when we acknowledge where we are right now, in THIS moment, as you read these words. After acceptance we can begin letting go. Letting go of the expectations we place on ourselves, and the expectations we allow others to place on us. Our life begins with our defining who we are, who we want to be. Live up to that. I believe in you, just as you are. No matter your starting point. If I were standing with you I would hug you, tightly. You are loved, my friend. You are safe. You are never alone.
I'm wielding a machete to clear out the wilderness blocking our path to our true selves.
Stick close, we are in this together.