Before you can accept who you are you have to know who you are. This is where I am right now.
We are each so much. We are our beliefs, our memories, our hopes and dreams, our tragedies, our abuses and our triumphs. Yet beneath all of that which has shaped and formed who we are, we are just simply a Self. I think we spend our lives trying to uncover and connect with that Self that is who we are.
For myself I have spent my entire life being uncomfortable in my body and with trying to “be” someone that I don’t feel is authentic. Not in the sense of feeling like I was born in the wrong body but in a sense that I feel like I am wearing a costume and trying to make a layer of clothing fit when it just is never quite “right”. A layer not only physical but mental. Like wearing a dress that is cut just ever so slightly wrong so that it never hangs quite right…always causing you to try to adjust it and making you aware of it every second you have it on.
Physically, I have never liked my body on its most base level. Learning from very young, as so many do, to be ashamed of any part of me that doesn’t resonate with the ideal that society tosses about. The ever-changing ideal, but which is always hinged on being “perfect”. Years of eating disorders never gave me the satisfaction and acceptance of my body that I wanted…that translated, after many years, to a deep hatred for my inner self as I viewed myself as weak and a failure for being able to do even the most basic thing – accept myself for who I am and love myself. A nasty circle that goes around on an endless loop. So many attempts to find “me” … dressing the way I thought I “should” for my age or my role at the time… the clothes never feeling like me but forcing myself to wear them. Make up for years because that’s what I should be doing. Because I was told I was prettier with it on than without; and of course, I wanted to be thought of as trying to fit with what people wanted for me… they were only trying to help me love myself, weren’t they? Like my friend who gently took me aside one day and told me that, at my age, I really shouldn’t be wearing jeans and t-shirts anymore and dressing to be “comfortable”. That I was a mother and a professional woman now, I should be wearing dress pants and blouses and cardigans. So I went shopping… and got more clothes that didn’t feel right. A few years back I finally stopped trying to find clothing that felt “right” and just went for clothes that were easy. Yoga pants and sweatshirts, t-shirts… they did nothing to make me feel good but at least were comfy. Starting a new job this past January I again went out and got clothes to fit the job. Office wear which fit my new role… and which feel like a costume every day. Contributing to me feeling detached…still.
Leaving the outer behind for a bit….
I realized when I have started to shop a few months ago…finally realizing that I need to wear what feels good and what helps me reflect me (to myself at least – really have stopped caring what anyone else thinks or judges)…it became apparent really quickly that the issue goes much deeper. That the fact is that I have been so wrapped up for so much of my life as who I am being what I am that I don’t really know who I am. Oh, I know the base things… I’m kind; I’m honest, compassionate… I love to be outside and I love to be and live as natural as I can. But beyond that I have been living in the trappings of the “what” I am. I ate dinner at a certain time and had meals structured by what was standard – I was raising kids and living a very schedule life so this was fine; for then. I lived my life for what was expected based on trying to chase an ideal that I thought would bring me happiness.
After my first divorce I was so happy and content. I was single, I had my kids, I had a few close, intimate persons in my life who I enjoyed time with but no primary partner. I loved it. I felt like I finally had found “me” and was living the way that felt right for me. My parenting was the way I wanted to parent, not how I had to based on trying to not cause strife with a husband whose idea of parenting was so unlike mine. Then… the “should” started. I started seeing a man who I fell in love with and he wanted to live together and be a family. My mind screamed between not wanting to give up what I was so happy with – a life that felt right and good and that fulfilled me – or a life that I “should” want. The two person parent with kids and a house and a minivan and stability. I know, I have a hard time not laughing now typing that… but at the time it made sense… kind of. I’ll skip the boring details and nasty ending but suffice to say that it didn’t work out.
I’ve realized a few years ago that the societal “norms” of monogamous partnerships just don’t work for me… I’m happier being single but with people I love who compliment my life. I’ve learned other things about my love life and preferences that were just as hard to accept but now that I have, the peace I have in that acceptance is massive – and feels good.
After the loss of my son and a decision to make a move to Victoria – a place I had wanted to move to for years – I find myself at a cross-road of sorts. Being on my own for the first time in 24 years, living alone, is unique for me. To have no one dependant on me and to have me as a priority is both disturbing and intriguing. It affords be the luxury of really being able to do what I want and how I want. But that opens a whole other can of worms….
I find myself looking around my place and finding it feels “wrong”… I have decorated with a style that was how I had my places before… but it doesn’t fit now. I have taken pictures up and down, moved furniture, sold furniture, now ending up with nothing but a hammock chair. I have gone looking for artwork and spent an hour indecisively wandering without making a choice. I pick something up and think how much I love the way it looks then second guess myself and think “it won’t fit with anything else in my place” and leave it behind… kicking myself later because I really did love that and who cares if it doesn’t “fit” in with anything else. I buy groceries that I throw out after they’ve gone bad because I bought them with meals in mind that I never make. I prefer to snack and have little meals. I love to cook but impulsively and not planned a week in advance. That’s a new discovery this past year… that I’m more spontaneous than I ever thought I was… and that it’s ok to be that way.
All outward expressions of the inside struggle to finally let go of the “should” and the “ought to” and just let myself be me.
It’s time to stop hating myself for not being able to let myself express who I am and live how I want.
Lola is an expression of that…a nickname that I answer to more often than my real name. An acronym started years ago when I went through that first transition… Live Openly, Live Abundantly…Lola.
Time to put that into practice.