It’s easy to slip into old patterns. It’s hard to step back and really look at what is being said, who is saying it, and how things really are. It’s especially difficult if someone has been in your life for a very long time.
I’m writing about this because it happened to me this weekend. I decided to address an issue with someone who has been part of my life for over 30 years. This is someone with whom I would, in the past, have pretended everything was fine. This is a person whose view of me I was more likely to accept than I did my own view of who I was. This time, however, was different.
This time I wrote out my concerns and actually sent it. I got back a response that implied I was hysterical and overreacting. And it bothered me—for about 30 seconds. Then I stopped, reread it, and asked myself some key questions:
1) Were the issues I raised reasonable to be concerned about? Yes.
2) Was I stating my concerns without attacking the other person? Yes.
3) Was my concern for the entire situation as well as for myself? Yes.
Then I was able to take a deep breath and really look at what this person had written me. And I could see that it echoed a long standing pattern—one I didn’t have to take part in any longer.
I don’t have to accept this person’s vision of who I am. I can honor the concerns I expressed. I can honor the thought I put into my message to this person. I can choose to see myself as I am. I can see this as a difference of opinion that neither requires me to demonize the other person nor blindly accept that I am the one at fault. I can, without anger, evaluate the situation and decide what steps, if any, I choose to take next.
I am holding onto who I am—my sense of self. I am able to see that no one, not even this person, can determine my future—it is in my hands.
When we have been battered by life, it’s easy to feel helpless. If we were hurt as children, it’s easy to stop believing in our own perceptions because we had to in order to survive. But we have the choice, now, as adults to realize that we truly do hold in our own hands the ability to create the kind of life we want to have.
Tonight, I will sit by the fire in my fireplace and smile because I can do that now. Tonight I will watch a movie I love and chat with a friend over the phone lines. Tonight I will calmly consider my options for the issue I raised, knowing, trusting that I will find a solution, no matter what this other person chooses to say or do.
Holding onto ourselves can be a real challenge if we have been hurt in the past. But ah, how good it feels when we know that who we are really is good enough and that no one can ever again take away from us that self-acceptance and self-knowledge.
So make your list of things you like about yourself. Make your list of things you do well. Take a little time to celebrate all that is good about yourself—no matter what you perceive your flaws to be! And know that you are and always have been worth loving.
Sending safe and gentle (((((((hugs))))))),