Updated: Jan 5
Have you ever in your life become someone you just didn’t recognize and found yourself doing things you never thought you would do, and I don’t mean in a good way.? Have you ever completely compromised yourself in order to please another? Have you given away all the pieces of you that you used to like and took pride in, only to regret one day having given them all away? I have. My story of this experience started quite a few years ago…
All the warning signs were there. All the red flags were flying. Heck sometimes they were shooting out of cannons. But I chose to ignore them all. I said it would be ok. I can make this work. I can just change. I can let go of who I am, to be who I am needed to be, so I can be with someone I love and be loved.
This was what I had done to myself and it took me years to come to that realization. I had abandoned myself in order to fit into the life of another. But I never realized that was what I had been doing. I thought I was doing what one was supposed to do when they loved someone; when you stubbornly believe that this is the person you are meant to be with - but it’s not really you they are with - it is the version of you that you became so that they would want you; so that they would love you.
This most challenging and difficult journey to reclaiming myself, started with abandoning myself. This journey towards self-love I am on now, started with not not loving myself. I had thought I was on the way to believing in myself and accepting and caring about myself; little did I know about the detour I was about to take.
I met someone many years ago, a man, whom was to become a significant game changer in my life. I willingly gave up who I was, to become who I thought I had to be, in order to have what I believed to be love.
We did not have an honourable start to our relationship, which was the first compromise I had made. We had an affair - he was married. I was adamant that I would never, ever have an affair with a married man. I could not do that to another woman. (Life lesson - never say never, and never judge, as you just don’t know what the Universe will provide to you to teach you that very humbling lesson.) (Ouch!). I was pursued with charm and then disarmed by charm and persuasion. I was naive and unsophisticated; I was very lonely. And I fell hard. Soon I found myself changing so many things about me to meet with his approval and be who he wanted. There were the usual affair ingredients; his wife and him shouldn’t have gotten married, they were only staying together because of finances, she wasn’t giving him what he needed…you know the rest. This story has been told and played out so very many times in history. I just never saw myself as being foolish enough to take part in this kind of narrative. This went on for several years, on again and off again. Misery, shame, guilt and remorse were constant in my life. The affair finally ended, but not in the way you would think it would.
We never got caught. But his wife got caught; she too was having an affair. Yet that wasn’t what ended our affair; he wanted to date other women and enjoy his freedom. Ha! I was crushed, but believed I got what I deserved.
I spent the next year doing a great deal of healing. That’s when Reiki came into my life and what a blessing that was to become for me and still is to this day. I worked intensely at healing myself; and was finally starting to come to the point of liking myself again and having hope for my future. I still didn’t quite understand all that had happened to me and why I got into such a mess. I had played with fire and got burnt. The lesson of what was really happening wasn’t to be learned for many years yet.
This man again entered my life about a year after he left it and I was once again charmed. I believed that we were meant to be together. (And maybe in some way we were, but not for the reasons I thought.) I ignored the warning signs - he had actually just ended another relationship with another woman he was living with. I had just moved away to start a new life for myself. But he entered my life again, and some kind of energy came over me and I felt like maybe we were to have another chance and do it properly this time.
I moved back and started to live with him. Everything seem to be so wonderful, yet…I started to realize quite quickly that I was constantly saying to myself:- it’s ok if this isn’t quite how I want to live, it’s ok if we aren’t doing things I want to do, it’s ok if I am trying to dress differently to win his approval, it’s ok if I am doing things that don’t make me feel comfortable, it’s ok if I ignore my feelings, it’s ok if he gets to choose all the time and it’s ok if he decides what we are doing all the time, it’s ok if I always have to be the one to apologize or make things right, it’s ok if he doesn’t talk to me for days- it must be my fault, I did or said something wrong; I’ll just be careful what I say or do so he doesn’t get mad at me. It’s ok if I am not myself - I don’t want to lose him. I don’t want him to cheat on me because I’m not making him happy. I am supposed to make him happy; I am supposed to be everything he needs and my needs don’t matter. I’ll be happy as long as he is happy. Every time that I said this to myself, I knew it wasn’t right for me, but I didn’t believe my feelings, wants, or needs were as important. He came first. That was the way it was. I was making him happy and my making him happy should be enough for me. (These are very old patterns we were raised to believe, weren’t we - we are somehow responsible for another’s happiness and it was up to us to make them happy, no matter the sacrifice)
After a few years, it started to become too much. I was getting drained and exhausted trying to keep this all up. I was doing more with my Reiki and as a result, I was healing more and more. The more I healed, the more I learned that my marriage wasn’t healthy, not at all. Nor was I - I realized that as much as I was able to love and care for others, I wasn’t doing what was loving for myself. I “woke up” and realized that I couldn’t cope anymore with the things that I was putting myself through. I questioned all the time what was happening; what needed to change, what was really going on here, what was the truth. I questioned this for a couple of years. Then one day, there was a catalyst for change and it was brought into my awareness that I was in a toxic, co-dependant relationship and that I had given away most of myself and my power to this person. ( I am not sharing the event as that’s not what is important.)
I had reached the tipping point. I wanted to get myself back! I wanted to recover my relationships with my family and my friends that had become strained; I wanted to get back to being able to think and do for myself; to decide for myself. I wanted my independence back and most of all; I wanted to learn to like myself again, to respect myself and to love myself. Who I was in my marriage wasn’t in harmony with the me I was becoming through my Reiki practice - I felt I was in two different worlds. So with lots of help from Reiki, amazing guidance, love and care from my Reiki Practitioner and my guides, a great deal of journalling and deep inner work, (and a very good therapist), I was able to remove myself from this dynamic. Fortunately we both were able to be kind enough to end things in a friendly way. That was a blessing - these type of relationships usually don’t end that way.
So here I am now, many months into my recovery and working on reclaiming myself. I found it easy to get back to being independent; that came quite naturally. I have realized, however, how much of a struggle it has been to get back the other pieces of myself that I so willingly abandoned over the years. It’s been hard to reconcile with myself how much I had hurt myself by giving away parts of me that belonged. I abandoned them because I felt ashamed of them; they weren’t good enough, or they weren’t appreciated. Tough lessons to learn. Had I known how hard it would be to reclaim the things that made me, Me; I would not have let them go. But, I can’t change any of that. What I do instead is learn very valuable lessons, continue my healing and work at reclaiming those pieces that belong to me.
Compromising who you are, what you like, what you do, and how you feel is not worth a few moments of company, peace, acceptance or “love”. (I put love in quotations because the love you receive from having to compromise all of who you are, is not the love you need). I have learned that I attracted this relationship into my life for a purpose. I’ve been in this dynamic many times in my life and this particular one was meant to be the one that would teach me my value, my worth, and my purpose: to love myself, respect myself and honour myself. That’s what it was all about.
I’m happy to say I am getting there. I am rebuilding my life and learning how to dream again. I am reclaiming the parts of me that I and/or others have considered to not be good enough. They are a part of me, that makes them enough. And I am releasing shame. I am learning to forgive myself for all the things I’ve done that compromised my integrity, beliefs and worth. I have learned that I am not infallible and that I am capable of taking wrong turns, and just as capable of finding the value in my less desirable choices and decisions. It has made me even more tolerant of the choices and decisions of others, and especially helping me to learn to let go of judgement of myself and others.
A very valuable healing lesson: I had to learn to stop looking at people/places/things to lay the blame on and accept that I was responsible for my choices and decisions. I am not responsible for the behaviour of others: I am responsible for me - I now know that my choices affect what happens to me and for me, and when I respect and love myself; I choose better for myself and I don’t accept less than I deserve.
So I share these less than favourable experiences of my history, taking a risk personally and professionally (because some who have read this may judge me for my mistakes and not see the whole perspective.) But that is a risk I choose to take in order that my story may help others who may be experiencing or have experienced themselves in similar situations. There is value to what I am sharing; my honour and integrity have become extremely important to me and therefore, I prefer to be honest about who I am and what I have experienced and learned - I truly believe I can help more by sharing than by hiding. What I can say to those that understand: You have the freedom to choose for yourself - what will you accept, what you will allow, who do you want to be. And if you sometimes choose what is considered unwise, there is still value in the lessons you will learn and the growth you may experience, if you are willing. My belief is that there is value in every experience we have - and that sometimes the best lessons are learned from our most challenging experiences - life is messy and we are here to learn.
If you are looking for true love, be true to yourself - you are the one you are looking for.