Being strong and independent is lonely and exhausting. Considering the value I placed on being independent and impenetrable, I taught myself how to function while exhausted and lonely constantly. Through the several awful and toxic relationships, through the years of graduate school, through the loss and trauma, I spoke to no one of it and I patted myself on the back all along the way believing I had achieved strength. No one knew me, no one understood me, and no one was close to me.
Somewhere along the way, a few years back, everything changed. Looking back it is vague and confusing how and why this happened, but it did. I wonder often why after trudging along in one way for almost 30 years, why did I start to show my under belly? Why did I reach out? Why did I lean on another, share with others, change my belief system about something as large as the way to live? They say, actually I say to my clients, that everyone comes to a moment of wanting to change eventually. My moment comprised of realizing that for the third time I was in a relationship with a man that had told me he wasn't married but in fact was, and knowing in my heart that something was wrong with the way I was living.
Something needed to change and I knew little about how or what but I knew it involved getting honest with others about my insecurities, my flaws, my hurts, my shame and my difficulties. I started by telling others what mistakes I had made in my past, those were the easiest. I began to tell people around me my feelings in the moment they were occurring. I began to share the way others had hurt me along my path.
People began to like me more and come closer to me. That was the most shocking and surprising part of the transformation. Under the belief I held for so long that in order to be successful and well liked, I needed to be aloof, robotic, and guarded, I was not liked at all and the success I experienced was merely in obtaining degree after degree. No one loved me or cared about me and unbeknownst to me, that was precisely because they didn't know my struggle.
So this crazy life altering moment happened, I began to let people in, I told the truth, and then people started to love and care for me. Those others that I have let in love me even in spite of my flaws and my shortcomings and as a matter of fact it appears that the love me more in direct response to my vulnerabilities. Now, I tell my clients that in order to heal into recovery and feel happiness, they have to trust the process of relationships by taking the step toward others first.
My life was never sustainable nor was it tolerable as a strong and independent woman. Today, with my real self hanging out all over the place, I am happy, I feel joy and love, I am really living and others really know me.