As I sat in a chair facing my therapist, closing an EMDR session, my therapist gave me a simple request–close my eyes, think of something I believe in strongly, that I am comfortable expressing, and picture that in one hand. Put the other people in another hand. Feel the power of the separation.
I closed my eyes and tried to envision this. Immediately, my strong political passions came rushing in front of my eyes…but those opinions were just as quickly stuffed back inside. Wait! I have become uncomfortable sharing my political opinions…it isn’t safe. Too many people judge. Hmm..what else do I feel comfortable sharing?
Before I knew it, rather than focusing on the two hands–powerful me in one, and everyone else and their judgement in another–I soon had the image of these two hands; one full of people I care about, or who I want to care about me; and, in the other, the old “powerful” me. Where was the current me? Curled up between the two, shielding myself from view…
Wow, what a powerful and telling image. What happened to me?
There are so many moments in life where we sit back and have realizations. For me, this realization was change. Once upon a time, I was an extremely confident person–a public speaker, debater, and believer in my own power.
Over the last 10 years, I have given my power away. Due to a lack of boundaries, I have given myself, piece by piece to other people–and I have lost those aspects that have given me confidence and purpose.
Can I narrow it down to simply one instance? Of course not…this has, apparently, been an ongoing problem. From a young marriage, to children and isolation that comes from staying at home, to living in an area that is much more conservative than I am, to trying so hard to prove that I am someone.
I have stood in a crowd, feeling fear…yes. FEAR. Fear as I watch people in the crowd appraise me, marking off mental tally marks in their head, and realizing that I don’t measure up to their definition of a good friend or a good person.
I have always wanted to fit in.
And yet, in a lot of ways, I am simply different. Rather than celebrating my own differences, I tend to try not to rock the boat…I want to please the crowd. I want to measure up. My self-worth is so tied to whether or not I do.
However, I am tired. So tired of hiding WHO I am.
I have to sit back and ask myself–Why would it matter if someone realizes that I have a differing opinion? Isn’t my opinion just as valid as their’s?
Wouldn’t life be a lot less lonely if I could just be authentically me? Those who care enough to stay, would. Those who disagree with me could come to terms with me and see my inherent value…or could exit. Would that be so bad?
The urge to please, to always sacrifice myself, has always been a part of who I am. Yet, I am recognizing that it is not worth the price of my mental health. The price of ME. I deserve to be who I am, without hiding or camouflaging in with a crowd, out of fear of standing out.
…Once upon a time, I strove to stand out!
It is okay that I am me.
It is okay.