I recently celebrated my 42nd year of life on this planet.
When I was a teenager, the forties seemed old to me. I thought I would be settled and full of wisdom. I’m full of wisdom, but I had no idea how I would acquire all of it.
Much of my life didn’t go the way I planned and I have faced many challenges that I couldn’t see coming. In hindsight, I can piece together the collapse of the things I was trying to wrestle into submission. However, while I was in it, I thought I was doing the right thing. I have learned to forgive myself for what I didn’t know.
I was chasing a relationship. I was chasing a career. I was chasing a home. I was chasing money. I loss all of it even when I had it. They would slip through my fingers when I felt like I had acquired them.
Out of fear, I was grasping them tightly and strangling all of the potential. I was chasing what they meant. I wanted the appearance that I was doing well when really I was far from it. I thought if I could just look good on paper then the storm within me would calm down. But, I was wrong.
The toxicity within my thought process and emotions poisoned everything I built and every relationship I was trying to manage. It also led me to choose someone who mirrored my insecurities, wounds, and fears then try to change them to make myself feel better about my own insecurities, wounds, and fears. So, that didn’t work because it’s impossible to change someone else. I also trusted people beyond what they deserved and even though they disappointed me repeatedly. I didn’t value my safety. My mental, emotional and financial health were violated.
It is especially difficult to love someone who reflects the parts of yourself you see negatively. All you accomplish is making them feel unloved by you because you don’t love those parts of yourself.
The only thing that made me better was to stop chasing.
Once I stopped, I had to some self-reflection to figure out why I felt the anxiety of trying to control everything on the outside and nothing on the inside. I slowly uncovered multiple traumas and the beliefs that came from them. These faulty beliefs were running my life. I was allowing them to run it straight into the ground.
My life was like the meme of the dog that is sitting in the fire, but saying, “This is fine.”
It wasn’t fine and I wasn’t fine.
The death of a parent, the loss of multiple significant people in my life, forced me to shut down and get clear on what love and life meant for me. As I was no longer trying to please others, I got honest with myself that much of what I would have committed myself to would not have made me happy.
What I was trying to find was a security blanket. It just wanted someone who felt like an anchor and I was arrogant to think I could trick someone into becoming that for me.
I tricked them by being everything I thought they should want and then expected them to become everything I needed in a false exchange.
However, I am lucky enough that no one would play along. They kept rejecting the fake version I tried to force onto them which made me stop being the fake version of myself. I am so grateful no one took me up on my offer to die slowly in his presence.
The past ten years have been me getting real with myself.
I am always sifting and sorting. Asking myself: Is this who I want to be? I have just become braver when the answer is no. I can let go much faster than I ever would in the past.
So far, the career found me. Opportunities have come to me without me tackling them and exerting my will. I simply say, yes. I know that I can handle whatever comes my way. I am happy and empowered.
Love is another story. I’ve dipped my toe in the pool, but I haven’t jumped in the deep end yet. I trust that I will know when I am ready. I also know that I want to conduct my relationship very differently than I did in the past. I want to show up as myself and be honest even when it’s scary. And, I want to treat the love of my life like the love of my life. Something tells me that I’m better at this than I ever gave myself credit, but the only way to find out is to try.
I’m not home yet, but I’m getting there. Who knows what the next year will bring.
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