Over the past few months, there has been a lot of self-reflection on my end. Who am I? Who do I want to be? What are my shortcomings? What is keeping me guarded and refrained? In my new mission towards self-love, I delve deep while beginning the process of slowly untangling myself from the suffocating, self-imposed webs that are distancing me from myself. I have spent my adult life caring way too much about what others think of me, allowing their perspectives and behaviors to get in the way of me fully loving myself.
I am convinced that my purpose in this lifetime is to allow my soul to transcend to a more forgiving place so that it can release all the pain, hurt and negative attachments it clings to and then pour out the love, laughter, and light it has been thwarting for so long. I know this is my soul's purpose because it is my biggest challenge. The happiness is there waiting to flow once I can open the dam and forgive myself for not being perfect and shedding the idea that I need other's approval of me to help shape my idea of myself.
In the midst of isolating myself from people who do not necessarily make me think or feel my best, I still find myself questioning the decision to remove them from my life. Am I overreacting? Am I being too harsh? Too intolerant? I just can't seem to drop these thoughts even when I have dropped the relationships.
Over the past week, I received two hurtful, but insightful, feedbacks from friends.
The first friend sent me a painful text in response to me being honest about why a rift has been made in our friendship. She wrote, "U needed me to give a shit during a pandemic while you're getting to travel the globe?". She further wrote "I love you but u honestly have no clue what it's like for people who have two full working parents. I couldn't be happier for you that you get to travel the world but most people including me don't have this luxury". (It is important to note that this friend is a successful and financially sound woman. If she chose to, she could also "travel the world").
This week I reached out to a friend who suddenly stopped speaking to me a year or two ago. I asked her for her honest feedback as to why our friendship so abruptly ended. She was willing to be forthcoming with an authentic response stating "you are a fun, smart, successful, secure, caring woman. You're strong. Too strong for me, I guess. You're an Alfa woman and being disappointed is something that really hurts you. What I've learned with time is that you don't like to be disappointed... unfortunately with you I often feel afraid to be myself".
As you can imagine, these are a lot of words to digest and I am definitely still chewing on them. I am grappling with how the person I strive to be gets lost in translation versus not giving a shit and accepting that not everyone is a healthy presence in my life. The problem is, once I have a history with someone, it is so hard for me to let go of the relationship. Instead, I search obsessively for the ways that I am responsible for a dent in a friendship even when I am not to blame. Yes, I am a Leo and I am strong. My strong personality has been a gift yielding many successful experiences in my life. My convictions have allowed me to be persistent, goal-oriented, and to focus on my dreams with hawk eyes. Yet, I like to think there is a softness to me too. I do think I am one of the most thoughtful, caring, generous, loyal persons you'll meet and these very traits do often lead me to be hurt and disappointed when I feel like the gestures are not reciprocated. I come as a package deal and if I chip away at one trait the house of cards tumbles. So, where do I give in and where do I hold back?
Am I supposed to feel bad about "traveling the world during a pandemic"? These words are true daggers as they reveal the true feelings of a good friend who should be happy for me that I have embarked on this journey but instead harbors obvious feelings of resentment. Am I offending others by sharing my journey? Clearly, there are those who think I am flaunting my experiences. But dozens of people have reached out to me expressing how much I am inspiring them. In fact, one family has embarked on a year-long journey as a direct result of me sharing our adventures. I also now know three other families who are taking shorter road trips also because, as they pointed out, I have inspired them to do so. So do I soften up the Alpha messaging in hopes of not raising envy in others or do I continue to share our travels hoping to inspire others to get in their cars and out of their lockdowns?
Yes, my old friend is right. I do get disappointed easily. This is an area I do need to focus on. There have just been some behaviors that I cannot fathom or excuse even if it means that certain people feel like they are afraid to be themselves around me. I hold a mirror in other's faces, my husband often jokes. Very few people have held themselves accountable for their poor behavior towards me, and others I presume, by just saying "I'm sorry" so instead they raise their shields and allow their true feelings to surface with blows of harsh words. When you know 100% that someone is just wrong, and they not only deny it but instead turn it around and make it about you, well, at what point do you say enough? At what point will I love myself enough to stop desperately searching for how I am responsible for something that I actually play no role in? As I shed the bandages of past wounds, I do realize that it is no longer my job to confront others when they are not behaving in their best ways. On the other hand, I do need to give myself the freedom to decide who enhances my life and who holds me back from fully loving myself. In this process, I also mostly need to stop caring so much about making others happy as this approach has been a sure setup for disappointment for all parties involved.
I guess that over time I have surrounded myself with too many people which has just led to too many shared opinions over how I am viewed by them. In return, my mind is clouded with trying to figure out what I need to change about myself to conform to what they need of me. It is time that I just accept myself through my lens of who I am and not the lens of others. Figuring how to do this is not an easy task.
There are three big mistakes that I have made in my life ( obviously there are many more but three that are specifically related to friendships). One error I made is that in loving a full house, throwing lots of parties, having a large social circle, etc. I let too many people into my life who diluted the meaningfulness that should come from true friendships. Secondly, in my struggle to please those who just cannot be pleased I have refrained from fully loving the many people who do genuinely love me. I always have in the back of my mind that one day, they too will deeply disappoint me or share their true, hurtful views about me and so to preempt a further damaged heart, I keep the walls around it layered in concrete allowing limited love to seep through in a controlled manner. Finally, because I always hold myself to such high standards, extremely high ones (not being so hard on myself is another thing I am working on), I often hold the people I love to similar standards. My struggle now is to figure out what standards that I hold others to are acceptable and which ones are just unfair. Similarly, how do I maintain all my positive traits and values while not holding myself to these high standards?
CNN published an article yesterday: "The pandemic has destroyed friendships and divided families". Although I am sad to see how people are reacting to the pandemic by projecting their own inner struggles onto others during a time they should be empathetic, I was somewhat relieved that I am not the only one bearing the brunt of pandemic drama in my circle of friends. A friend shared the article with me. A friend who knew about the harsh texts I received that are shared earlier in this rant. Just when I was about to blame myself, again, for being the source of the problem in a friendship, I received this article, a gift, reminding me that what I really need to work on is loving myself more and removing those in my life who don't love me enough, just the way I am.
There is no conclusive idea to this rant as figuring it all out is a process, a goal in progress. Sharing my thoughts and giving them life through words is a step towards understanding myself, and others, better. I do want more than anything to remain a human being who cares so deeply about others while also not giving a shit. Since I don't see how this is possible I just have to keep chiseling away at this thing called life and find that happy place where there is a harmonious balance of fully loving myself, deeply loving others, and willing to accept being loved in return.