Not long ago, I was a woman who let my "man" control every aspect of my life. First it was my (now ex-) husband in Germany, controlling our money (he used to "give" me a weekly allowance of 50 euros -- roughly $70), 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's 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 to 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 myself 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 myself 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. 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 made the decision to walk. 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 myself out in the big, scary world alone. I could not make decisions without lots of turmoil. I could not imagine myself 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... (love you, Mum and Dad!). 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? Step by bloody difficult step. The only way through the fire is through the fire! I forced myself to take long, hard looks in the mirror every day. I pushed myself to stop being afraid. I willed myself 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. Actually went to church a bunch of times. Did some major personal growth work.
But let me tell you, the other side of that fire is 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 -- including a map and a flashlight -- to help others find their way to the other side. I can help.
It does not have to be done alone. And it is totally worth the journey. If you're interested in a complimentary discovery session, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a time.