As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned a few things about myself. It’s actually an ongoing process of reflection and realization that I’ve been doing over the past few years. A slow process, but it’s teaching me things about myself that I didn’t know, or hadn’t yet realized, and reminding me of things I had forgotten.
I’ve never really felt the freedom to be myself; to be perfectly honest, I’ve never really known exactly who “myself” truly is. I’ve had an idea of myself influenced by everyone else’s vision of me. Their vision is not me and I’m slowly learning that it’s okay to not be someone’s ideal version of me. I’m slowly learning that it is sometimes necessary to cut those people out of my life; those who cannot accept the true me and not their ideal me. I’ve spent all of my life being afraid of letting anyone “in”; afraid of being rejected, not being good enough, being hurt and let down, and carrying shame for something I should never feel shame for. I have spent so many years keeping people at arm’s length that it takes every ounce of energy I can muster to walk out into the public. I don’t want to live under these shadows anymore.
This journey has reminded me of just how much shame and pain I’ve been carrying for more than three decades- the shame and pain I try so hard to bury deep down where nobody can see. I can fake it for the people around me- friends, family, strangers; I can put on a happy face and pretend life is wonderful, but I can’t lie to myself. Eventually, it always catches up with me. The pain I carry- these scars- are soul deep and at times it crushes me. I have to remind myself that this pain does not define me. I am more than these scars that I carry. I am more than the worthlessness that has been ingrained in me by those who claim to love me most- even if unintentional. This journey has taught me that I have to learn to love myself because that is something I’ve never done; and that it is okay to let go and be myself, even if that makes others uncomfortable. Even if they don’t like who I am. That’s okay, they don’t have to like me. This isn’t about them- this is about me, and nobody can take that from me. It is my life, my journey, and my healing.