Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Sheryl gets deep and meaningful

I have two things to write about today, and I've started writing to see which one my fingers choose. Having just returned to this country yesterday I am severely jetlagged and struggling with the heat as well, so I'm not even sure if I can write a coherent post - let's see shall we? Note - totally failed at the coherent post. Instead I fell asleep and it is now three days later... (no, I haven't slept for three days!)

A long time ago, when I was small, things happened to me that shaped the person I became as an adult. This is true of everyone of course, not just me. However today's post is about me! As a child I learned coping mechanisms that were useful at the time, but things learned like that tend to stay with us throughout our lives.

One of my coping mechanisms was to be a chameleon - not that I changed my skin tone or anything like that. What I did was to modify my behaviour to suit the people I was with at the time. Again, this is true of all of us to some degree, however I excelled at becoming variations on myself. Who I was depended on what the people around me wanted me to be. As a coping mechanism it was great; if you are being what others want you to be, you exhibit similar qualities, blend in, become invisible.

However I did this all of my life, modifying my behaviour, modifying myself, to fit into whichever environment I was in at the time. Doing that meant that I never ever learned who I really am. I was like an actor, playing a role for however long I needed to and then going on to play another. They were all variations of me, just adjusted and pruned to suit. But I was never simply myself, mainly because I just didn't know who I was. I didn't go through the process of learning myself in my teen years as others (so I've been told) do. I was too busy blending in.

People like that, people like me, can go a very long time never knowing a real sense of self. And one of the repercussions of that is that people like me don't have a dream to follow or personal needs and wants. If you don't know who you really are, how are you going to know what you really want out of life? In my case, I played my roles, did whatever was required of me. This is not to say I did not enjoy playing these roles; in every incarnation of me there was happiness and satisfaction. But I was a two dimensional person. I never had any wants or needs of my own, only an extension of what the people around me wanted.

I didn't even know that until someone asked me what did I want from my life - my life, not other peoples. I had no clue, none at all. When I took away the wants and the needs of the people in my life, I realised what I had thought were my own desires were in fact what I thought the people around me wanted me to have. All I did was reflect off those around me; I wasn't a fully three dimensional person at all, even though I thought I was. So I decided to try to be myself, to learn myself and stay true to myself.

The problem with trying to learn oneself and showing that self to others is that they are probably not going to like it. Why would they, when the person they know is the one they prefer - much easier to get on with. And then a person like me, with no real sense of self and no sense of being entitled to any wants and needs - that person thinks "Hey, I'm not a nice person, they don't want who I really am, better go back to the person they like." And so it goes on, but as I learned, eventually there will come a catalyst and change will occur.

Change, that thing I'm not good at, loss of control, that other thing I'm not good at. Another aspect of my coping mechanisms was a brilliant ability to repress bad memories and cut off the feelings they engendered - stuff the whole thing into an internal box and slam and lock the lid. The problem with that though is that it is unstable, like a dormant volcano. It only takes a trigger and the whole thing will explode. My trigger went off and my internal volcano exploded, and just like a real volcano the ash and lava in my soul took years to clear. It was a cathartic process but very painful and the repercussions were like ripples on a pond, ever expanding into all aspects of my life.

This is one of the reasons why I keep on falling into that black hole.  Learning to let go of who I thought I was and finding who I really am, that is painful. Facing painful memories and letting them go, that is painful too. It is a grieving process, for the child who was hurt and for the adult who is still feeling that pain. I'm resistant to change and I try to keep control of the things and the people around me partly because in my childhood change was forced upon me; I had no control over what happened to me and it was not good.

But I hide behind that resistance to change, that attempt to control people and events. It's scary as I have said before to take that leap into the future without a net. But it's also the first time I have really truly felt alive, and I have let myself be exactly who I am. I haven't tried to make myself into a suitable variation of me, I have found the courage to be me - faults, foolishness and all.

In my life there have been exactly two people with whom I have felt safe and have been just myself. One of those is my sister (she's probably surprised at that). The other knows already. These two people have given me the courage to let go of my past, to let go of the pain, to finish the grieving process. They have given me the courage to take the step into the future without the baggage of my past. Because of them I believe that I do deserve to have the life that is right for me. Because of them I am taking the steps to get there and because of them I believe in myself and my as yet untapped potential.

I know its baby steps, but I am taking them, and as I go along I will take bigger steps until one day I will be striding with confidence through my life, lived my way as my own person.

Pretty deep huh? Next blog I promise to lighten up!


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