Growing In Self

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Growing In Self

I’ve spent the last few years on an amazingly beautiful and at times painful road of self-discovery.  One that has forced me to go deeper into myself than I ever have before.  I’ve had to be relentless about honesty.  I’ve had to be brave enough to deal with whatever comes up as I ask myself some tough questions and wait for my inner self to answer, sometimes in ways that send wracks of pain, shame, and guilt through my body.  “Who am I?” is a question that’s often on my mind as I do the emotional work necessary for me to come to an understanding of who I am at my core. 

I’ve had the “what am I worth” conversation with hundreds of women.  It’s such a personal topic.  What defines one woman’s worth can be a non-factor for another.  What’s so beautiful and powerful about that sentiment is that every woman’s definition can be true.  There is no competition, no right or wrong, no better or worse.  The deciding factor in every situation is the person directly affected.  Of course, there is always a ripple effect.  The choices we make touch the lives of those around us in one way or another, but the important thing to remember is that this is a byproduct of living.  Life will not always flow joyfully.  There will be friction.  Our job is, to be honest with ourselves and others, honor our Higher Selves, live with integrity​ , and do our best daily to ensure that our actions align with our intentions. 

I am a woman who grew up not knowing what boundaries were.  I didn’t know they needed to be set or that I even had a right to them.  “No” was not a word I could use with impunity.  I couldn’t say no and keep my emotional and, at times, physical safety intact.  My words didn’t seem to be mine to express.  Neither were my emotions.  I was told how to feel, what to think, what to say, and what to do.  When you grow up feeling like you cannot say no, your only other options become yes or silence.  You then start to learn that yes means access to love, acceptance, and safety.  Anything else spelled fear, violence, isolation, and shame.  When you come to know this as the truth at home, it’s not long before it becomes true everywhere else, whether explicitly expressed or not, and so I complied.  I learned not to ask questions. I learned not to speak up.  I learned not to say yes when I really meant no.  It was easier to be more like you, even when it didn’t feel right, then to try and be me.  This was true because I desperately needed you to like me.  I didn’t know who I was and so I needed you to tell me.  I would accept any behavior and make excuses for it as long as somewhere in the mistreatment, you showed me that if I did things just right, you might love me.  I hadn’t realized yet that I could look in the mirror to find out who I was and so I looked to you to be my mirrors.  I hadn’t realized yet that what I was looking for, the only confirmation I needed had been hidden away within me.

Later on, in life, I discovered that even receiving love was hard for me.  I no longer find that surprising considering the number of years I spent asking you to love a lie.  I no longer find that surprising considering the number of years I spent believing that who I was wasn’t enough.  The truth is I’ve spent many years walking around with very little understanding of who I am.  What I did know about myself I was afraid to show for fear that I wouldn’t be accepted.  And so I hid those little pieces of myself behind smiles and alcohol.  I hid behind books.  I hid behind solitude.  I hid behind kindness.  I hid behind “yes”. 

When I realized I was in constant pain, I knew something needed to change.  I was so comfortable being uncomfortable that I never considered there might be another way of living.  I’d accepted my current state as my lot in life.  Pain and exhaustion had propelled me into a desire for something more.  All around me were people who were happy and at peace with their lives.  I couldn’t even seem to get a good grasp on being comfortable in my own skin, let alone find comfort in the world around me.  I was tired of pleasing people.  I was tired of choosing partners who didn’t see or value me.  I was tired of not valuing myself.  I was afraid to ask for what I wanted, what I needed.  I didn’t trust my own judgment.  I wanted to be fully seen.  I soon realized that in order to be fully seen by others, I had to really see myself. 

I knew I couldn’t start this process without addressing my beliefs about myself.  If I didn’t, I’d be done for before I even began.  I realized that I had to be willing to accept what I found as I unpacked my boxes, no matter what came up.  I knew that if I kept on with my current way of thinking, I’d get the same results I’d always gotten.  It was hard at first.  I found that I spoke negatively of and to myself more often than I’d initially thought.  I had to build up a defense against my own mind.  This was exhausting.  I had to be relentless.  I’ve spent hours focusing on changing the way I see, think, and talk about myself. 

The more I delve into exploring the truth about my soul’s desires – for me, that’s what this work is really all about – the more I realize the magnitude of importance the answers I find within the hold.  These answers influence every part of my life, every decision I make.  They influence my relationship with my life’s goals, right down to whether or not I choose to allow myself to believe I am a person deserving of a Big Beautiful Life.  They determine the firmness of my boundaries, how I let others treat me, and most importantly how I treat myself.  I’m learning that my soul’s journey means a number of things.  It means getting so quiet that I can hear the tip of a pin hit a marble floor.  It means caring just as much about how I treat myself as to how I let others treat me.  It means making choices that benefit my life rather than hinder it.  It means allowing space for fuck ups and roaring successes and seeing both as opportunities to grow.  It means making decisions that do not feed my fear and anxiety.  It means setting clear boundaries and holding firm to those boundaries even when they don’t align with the wants and needs of others.  It means loving me so fully that I do not seek validation from external sources.  It means going into the quiet space within so that I may better hear and honor Her. 

By far the biggest gift I’ve been given these past few years is a deeper understanding of and connection to myself.  I’m learning that the woman I used to be never quite goes away.  I’m thinking I’m okay with that.  As I grow in consciousness and love for myself, the more convinced I am that she’s not something to be forgotten or denied.  I want to keep her with me so that I can give her the love and attention she desperately needed for so many years.  I want to continue to consider her needs, to take care of her, to remind her that we no longer need to live in survival mode.  I want to continue to remind her that she’s enough already, as she is, right here in this moment.  I want to keep talking with her, breaking bread with her and honoring her needs.  I want to continue to thank her for her honesty, her bravery, and her willingness.  She opened the doorway to God.  She encouraged me to take off my mask and to speak up.  And for that, I’ll be forever grateful. 

 

Written by:  Shay H.

 

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