I AM… Unchained
“What’s wrong with me?” The question that controlled my whole life. I seemed I could never do anything right. No matter what I said or did, it was always the wrong thing, at least that’s how I perceived it… always trying to get better, to do it right, to please, to accommodate, to not upset anyone, yet it always seemed to backfire.
As I was running one day I had a realization that I am not me. I am what the world wanted me to be, I am what they said I should be. As I walked into 2015, I had this knowledge that it was time to find out who I really was. I was fierce, independent, didn’t need anyone, fuck the world, don’t let anyone tell you what you can do or be kinda girl.
“The lady doth protest too much, me thinks“- Shakespeare
Layer upon layer, mask upon mask, I dismantled this facade, this strong, hard nosed version of myself to see what was underneath. One step forward, two steps backs – I felt as though someone else was running the show. I spoke even when my voice shook. I stood up, even when my knees knocked. I could hear myself saying things that shocked me – I could hear a voice inside of me screaming “shut up shut up shut up, you’re telling them everything, what’s wrong with you!!!!” But speaking the truth felt so good. It was heavy, living a life of lies – the pretty picture, the perfect life. Every ounce of truth was freeing. I felt lighter, but it was short lived. Then I’d feel the fear of speaking the truth – what would they say? What would they think of me? And I’d retreat. Then it would happen again. And I felt completely insane.
The question “Who Am I Really?” persisted. I had no idea. I pretended to be strong, tough, not needy, not believing in love for so long that I believed it myself. The life of a lie… tell it so often even you believe it. The truth is I had been hurt in unfathomable ways to most people and as I went into the world I often felt rejected, not good enough, made of fun for who I was. After a while, I stopped being who I was and I changed into what the world told me to be. I became harder, tougher, I held back, I became louder – because quiet/reserved people were weird. I began to measure success as everyone else did. I stopped writing, dreaming. I lived in the real world – I put money first, career focused, educated, travelling, all measures that would show I was successful. I stopped chasing love and let love chase me and when it came, I crushed it under a perfect stiletto – fuck them or they’ll fuck you, right?
That became the motto of my life – climb the corporate ladder – be successful and then you’ll be enough, then you’ll be loved, then you’ll fit in and be accepted. But there’s always a catch 22 – be successful but not more than “them” because that becomes another reason for “them” to tear you down… they look for flaws, imperfections and can’t wait to point them out to you… once again I found myself subjected to the self loathing question “why can’t I do anything right?” I had everything that makes a person successful by societies standards and yet, I was miserable. Why?
And I realized my “good enough” was measured outside of me – what they thought. And because I always felt not good enough I attracted people into my life who would continually show me that I wasn’t good enough. I was searching for that missing piece outside of myself – yet all along what I was searching for was inside of me.
How do I find self love? It’s easier said than done. How could I love myself as I am? Would I never again strive to be anything? Would I accept lower standards? I didn’t understand how it all worked. Wondering if I was doing it right. What if I could never find that peace? I was driven to find the answer and stopped looking outside of myself and started looking within. Layer upon layer, mask after mask, one step at a time, I searched inside, meditated, connected, did constant work, until I finally found it.
Me. There I was, in chains, this shiny, sparkly part of me that I had locked away years ago. The part of me that was pure love and pure joy and pure happiness, courage. She believed in love, fairytales and magic. She loved to dream and write. She was the part of me that the world told me to leave behind. She was the one who was always getting hurt, who saw the best in everything, got taken advantage of because of her naivety. She was the one the world chewed up and spit out, destroyed. In a move of self preservation, I locked her up and left her behind. I wanted to fit in, to be somebody, to be someone no one would fuck with again. To not be stupid, naive, hurt, in pain, taken advantage of. Even though I still had a good heart and loved to help, I never got too close and never let anyone else get too close to the real me. I became an island. I would never again be weak.
Life was a war and I thought I was winning by being independent, strong, but ultimately I was losing. The ultimate failure is successful without fulfilment. I had everything, I had “proven” myself that I was not that silly weak girl but I was miserable without her, because she was me. And without her, I was living a lie…pretending to not want or need anyone.
When I saw her, in my minds eye, we connected instantly. I saw that she had been waiting for me. I had tried for years to not be her because I saw her as weak, but in reality she is stronger and more courageous than I gave her credit for… to love anyway, to live fully, anyway, despite the hurt and the pain and the fear. She wasn’t weak, she was vulnerable. I tried to protect myself by leaving that part of me behind and in that instant of seeing her, I felt pure unconditional love and forgiveness. I knew why I had to do it. And I didn’t judge myself for it. It was the best I could do. But together, we are complete… the driven side of me with the pure love side of me. Together, we are courage – to love ourselves even though the world says we’re not good enough, unless… to love even if we might get hurt. Together, we are faith – because we believe anyway, despite all the bad, that the world is still full of amazing people. Together, we are love – because we love wholly and fully, even in a cruel world. Together we are complete – we are light in a dark world.
It was then that I fully grasped that it was me who rejected myself and it was only me could fully accept myself. As I understood that, the chains feel away from her, eye to eye, heart to heart, for the first time in more than 20 years we honoured each others journey and she vanished as she became part of me again. Finally, I was whole.
Fiercely strong, independent, unstoppable, courageous, faithful, loving, kind, compassionate but in a whole new way – no separation as I look out to the world with new eyes; as I realize all of my experiences, especially the pain in life were truly gifts that helped me grow, that by owning all of me, will allow me to help more people by simply showing people how to accept ourselves in a world that constantly tells us we’re not good enough.
We’re all perfect, exactly as we are. When I fully embraced all of myself, nothing anyone thought, said or did could really touch me, because I finally and truly get that what someone else thinks of me is none of my business as it’s a reflection of who they are, not who I am. I am dedicated to a life of love, passion with grace, being present, loving and living fully and openly, compassion, empathy, and courage. I am me. And if you want someone else, choose someone else.
I am finally, unchained.
I am me. I am so excited for 2016 as I finally, will be all of me. And the only advice that I wish to impart is… be patient with yourself. You’ve done the best you can. Try to find that part of yourself that you’ve hidden from the world thinking she’s weak or not good enough. Embrace her and bring her back into your life, fully. Because the only approval you ever need is your own.