These days, I color my hair purple if I want to. But several years ago, I was a woman who let my “man” control every aspect of my life. First it was my (now ex-) husband, controlling our money (he used to “give” me a small weekly allowance), my wardrobe and style (I let him approve all my choices), our living space (big, empty and expensive), our friendships (my friends were never good enough), my career (I worked for him on his projects for several years)… Yeah, it was a very long list.
After I left him, I let my rebound boyfriend control me in lots of similar ways and areas, including money, style, friendships and my career. That list was pretty long, too. Frying pan into the fire, as they say.
Of course, there were times in both relationships that were fun and wonderful, especially at the beginning. Funny thing is, I’ve always been considered kind of a smarty pants. Always thought of my Self that way, too. Turns out, brains have very little to do with codependency. Why doesn’t anyone teach us that in school??
It took me a few years to figure out the obvious truth that chasing other people’s dreams is a fruitless pursuit. As in Nowhereland. I never got one step closer to anywhere doing that. In fact, I constantly felt like I was treading water, furiously thrashing around in an attempt to keep my Self from going under. Constantly trying to find a whiff of oxygen to keep the tiny flame of my own voice alive.
Twice, some last-straw piece of controlling nonsense in the guise of “help” finally woke me up to the fact that nothing was going to change — and if I didn’t do something quickly, I would absolutely go under. I just knew that my flame would definitely extinguish itself.
So I left. Dumped him. Washed that man right outta my hair. Twice. BOOM! End of drama. Well, to be totally honest, washing out the drama took awhile, both times. But that’s a story for another day.
Today’s story is about how I finally decided to be ME after I finally made the decisions to walk. In both cases, it was finally time. But yikes! What did that really mean?? I mean, who was this ME, anyway??
Oh man… it took quite a bit of time to remember, rediscover and reinvent ME. I’m the first one to admit that.
At first, I felt like I was peeking out through a hole in a tiny little box, frightened to put my Self out into the big, scary world all alone. I could not make decisions without lots of turmoil. I could not imagine my Self or my life beyond tomorrow or next week. I felt like I imagine a recovering addict must feel. Because that’s basically what I was.
But I was determined to be ME! So determined, in fact, that I probably drove my family a little bit crazy in the process… What else could I do? I have a (fantabulous!) young daughter who I love more than life, so I had to move forward. Had to let go, move on.
How did I do it? Well, I'd love to tell you it was easy. But it was far from that. Turns out, the only way through the fire is through the fire! I forced my Self to take long, hard looks in the mirror every day. I pushed my Self to stop being afraid. I willed my Self to think about MY opinions, MY preferences, MY needs. And yeah, I cried a lot. Read a lot of nonfiction Self-help books. Made some great new friends. Practiced forgiveness. Did some major personal growth work.
But let me tell you, once I reached the other side of that fire I found absolute inner paradise! Because it is MY other side, MY paradise. And it just keeps on getting better, every day.
Are you feeling me? Have you or someone you love gone through something like this, or maybe still going through it right now? If so, I want you to know that help is available. I wish I had had someone impartial to guide me, listen to me, ask me questions and help me set goals while I was going through my deep valley. Now that I’ve come out the other side, I have lots of tools to help others find their way to the other side.
You do NOT have to do this all alone. If you’re interested in a complimentary discovery session, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a time. Let's do this together!