Personal growth is a journey that requires the shedding of many things–old habits, negative thinking, and certain people.
Learning which people should be in my life–which ones deserve my time and love and energy–that has been a growing process in and of itself.
Let’s face it: The hard truth is that I want, and have always wanted, everyone to like me.
It is a truth that is entrenched in my childhood. The young, little girl, so eager and hungry for love and affection that did not always come. I became the co/independent perfectionist–the caretaker, and the pleaser.
What I failed to learn as a result of this upbringing is that my worth–my VALUE–is not dependent on what other people think of me.
So, my mom didn’t love me more than she loved herself… Is that my fault?
I may have answered no in the past, but the reality is that, emotionally, I always answered yes. In my mind, it was my responsibility to earn her love…and if I couldn’t change her and make her love me the way that I wanted, I was obviously getting the love that I deserved.
This logic, this core, underlying belief that was formed in my first home, in my heart, and in my young head, followed me into all other relationships. Friends. Lovers. Teachers. Authority figures. Enemies.
If someone chose not to like me, I felt–and often still feel–that it is my fault.
It was not until about a year and a half ago that I began to reconsider this logic.
At that time, I met one of my support people–my awesome therapist. The therapy relationship has been more intense, more important, and more productive than just about any other relationship I have ever had. I have struggled, immensely, with ever believing that I could be okay without this person in my life. She has touched my heart, made me believe in myself, and helped me find my courage and confidence. And, slowly, I am learning how to find these things by myself–and I am learning, through the modeling that this healthy relationship provides, what healthy boundaries look like. What I deserve.
That I am not weird. That I am not unlovable when someone really gets to know me (which has always been one of my deepest fears).
This has given me the strength to take back some of my power. I have realized which boundaries I need to draw. I have realized that not every reaction from another person is about me.
And, I have realized that I can cut contact or have very low contact with the people that hurt me the most.
For so long, I was devastated by this. I thought, If I don’t have them, then who will I have??? No one!!
However, I am learning that is far from the truth.
This journey has brought out my vulnerability. It has made me messy. It has made me talk to people about things I would never have ever considered talking about before.
It has allowed me to own my story.
There is such power and freedom in that…though, it is not without fear.
I now have new relationships that are healthier. Relationships where, believe it or not, I am feeling liked and loved for who I am.
Not perfect me. Not pleaser me. Not caretaker me.
I might be able to list all of the important people in my life with my two hands…but their value is so much more powerful than their numbers.
I have my therapist.
I have my husband. He may not always show me love the way I want to see it or feel it…but he always takes care of me. He always wants me to feel happy. He never wants to hurt me.
I have my two children. God…I love them so, so much. I have my grandma.
I have my priest and his wife (who is an amazing woman and friend)–who are two of my very favorite people in the world. Honest, real, funny, and accepting. They have been there for me in unexpected and welcome ways. They help me feel liked for who I am–and they help me see that I am not how my family makes me feel.
I have a few great friends…ladies who make me laugh til I cry. Who I can tell the most ridiculous stories to. Who I can complain to, talk to (about all sorts of inappropriate things), and drink wine with. One I’ve reconnected with after years–and two newer ones who I met and bonded with in the crux of motherhood.
I have lots of good friends–people I can talk with, people who are nice to me, people who care.
My numbers? They might be smaller than someone else’s.
But they are real.
They are powerful.
They help me feel loved…and they help me HEAL.
What more could I ask for?