If I think back to the way my life used to be, even two years ago, so much has changed so quickly. My behavior then was extremely self-destructive. I let anxiety and selfishness rule my life. I had minimal self-esteem and thrived on attention from other people. I made poor choices for the thrill of living for the moment and always had the attitude that I would just deal with the consequences later. I didn’t care who I hurt, as long as I was getting what I wanted. The only constants in my life were my family, a handful of friends, my job and my children. And really, if I had taken one more step in any direction I was headed, I could easily have lost any of them. I poured endless amounts of energy into all the wrong things–relationships that were destined for failure from day one, trying to fix things that were broken beyond repair. Loving the wrong people. Not loving myself. Giving myself away or throwing myself at people because I didn’t think I could ever have anything better than what I’d always had.
Sometimes I still wonder about that. I worry that I’m not normal, that I don’t think like other people do. Some people are so comfortable in their own skin that I am envious of them. I am always feeling like a freak. I’m the awkward one, the ugly one, the fat one, the one who doesn’t fit in. I am so cut-and-dry that I will generally spill my life’s story to anyone who will listen. I freely admit to the sins of my past and I’ve laid them to rest as much as I can, but there are still some things that haunt me. They make me wonder if there will ever come a day when I will feel normal. Some people love other human beings so much that they will find a way to connect with them and nothing brings them more joy. Generally, I am easily put off by the thought of contact with most humans. I get social anxiety; I worry I am being judged up and down, that I am being awkward, that I am saying the wrong things, that I will somehow get in trouble. It’s very difficult to just relax and be yourself when you don’t exactly know who you really are.
So I worry that this is not my life. Can it be real? Can I truly relax and just be me? Can I count on what we’re building to be all we promise each other it will be? Will I drive him away with my insecurities and my baggage and the stresses of our day-to-day life? Will my kids grow up to be good people, and will they still want me in their lives? Am I deserving of any of it, knowing all of the bad things that I’ve done?
And yet here I am. After all the partying and late nights and seeking comfort in the wrong places, I have the life I so desperately wanted. It started with small changes, like attempting to date and accepting that I could decide I didn’t think someone was a good fit, or vice versa, and that was okay. It progressed into putting my foot down with people who have taken advantage of me or hurt me in some way. I was promoted to a dual supervisor position at work, which gave me more confidence and clarity in my decision-making. And then suddenly I had this backbone I’d never had before. I started saying no. I stopped caring so much about looking like a bitch in order to get my point across and speak my mind. Being overwhelmingly nice 100% of the time will get you nowhere–you have to draw the line at some point and decide what you will and won’t accept. It doesn’t always pay to be a Yes Man. I grew and changed until I had a fairly good grasp of what I wanted and what I didn’t want in a partner. I realized that I didn’t want to be single anymore, I wanted to be a housewife again. I have a family now; a fiancé who adores me and three kids to care for and two cats and a dog who drive me crazy. I am doing fairly well at my job. After almost ten years, I finally got full time. I am writing consistently–I’ve written more in the last 4 months than I have in fifteen years. Complete strangers at work have approached me to tell me how much they’ve enjoyed reading my posts. Friends tell me they look forward to reading them, that I’m good at it and it’s what I should be doing. This is progress. It’s growth and change and gaining wisdom from the mistakes I’ve made.
Looking back on the old me, I imagine a tornado or a hurricane or a train running off the tracks. A disaster, if you want to call a spade a spade. In some aspects I held my ground and kept my shit together, but in others I was just an absolute mess. And the new me likes her life. She likes being a homebody. She likes not waking up with a hangover several times a week and having to go to work and try to function. (Don’t get me wrong, she still likes to drink sometimes, but not the way she used to.) She likes intimacy and monogamy and having an equal partner in her life. She likes the relationship she has built with her children, her sister, her mom and her lover. But she still has some work to do. She needs to put her trust in herself and in these positive changes she’s made, and hope for the best for once instead of always doubting herself and expecting the worst outcome.
There have been a lot of changes in a short amount of time, and that takes some adjusting to. I think I fight against the tide sometimes because the old me shines through and protests and struggles with it. “You don’t have to explain yourself to anyone, you’re free to do whatever you want, you fought hard to get there.” Selfish inner me has little mental temper tantrums. But really, I am still free in all the ways that matter most. I’m not a prisoner here, I chose this path and made a commitment to it. It’s all about finding a balance that works for everyone.
I want to thank those people who have taken the time out of their busy lives to read these little vents of mine. I’m enjoying it so much. One day I hope to write a book, once I figure out what it should be about. The only thing I’ve ever felt I was good at was writing about myself. And I always thought, Who would want to read about me? And yet, here you are. So thank you from the bottom of my heart. Your feedback is driving me forward to better places.
Until next time!
Side note: here’s a song I used to love running to. It seems fitting, considering the subject of today’s post.