For much of my life I have struggled with the aching fear “Who am I to decide what I want/where to go/what to do/how to be.” To make a decision for myself felt like I was meddling in affairs beyond my scope and ability. For many reading these words, you will have no idea what I mean. Sure, everyone has their moments of self-doubt when they look to another for support or example because they aren’t sure how to proceed. But the desperation I have felt goes far beyond this typical human experience of inadequacy. For much of my life, I have fundamentally not understood the power I have to chose how/who/where to be. While I’ve managed to live a pretty good life, it’s often been with the help of an idolized person or two that I’m seeking to emulate and please. I’ve been oblivious to the power and knowledge within to live my own, good life. And I’ve been desperate. Desperate to know if I’m on the right path…have I made the right choices. I have spent countless hours analyzing, fearing, wishing, wanting, unable to connect with what I want or consistently live a life that is authentically mine. Some of you that find this blog will know exactly what I’m talking about.
I am incredibly grateful to say that I’ve got a lot to learn– but my life is becoming my own. There is hope alongside the desperation. I am learning the power, knowledge, and light that are within….not just in other people– but in me.
Here’s one part of this journey.
Seven years ago I “broke up” with a friend that I’d idolized for years. She and I had journeyed together through some really rough years of my life. She helped me get out of an abusive relationship and provided space in which to heal and find my feet again. She was a cheerleader and support in many ways, and we had fun together- vacations, cooking good food, hosting parties. But from the moment I’d met her she’d been up on a pedestal and other types of mess grew through the years. Co-dependent is the name for our kind of relationship. Pleasing her, acting like her, even looking like her…it quieted the desperation. She became a voice in my head, a guide when I was unsure what to do.
It pained her that I did this, to the extent that she was aware, but she was also a partner in making this unhealthy bond. When I finally cut myself free she insisted someone else must have put me up to it. But for one of the first times in my life– there was no “someone else”. I had begun to discover ME and the power I have to decide. To know something within and take action to create the life that I want for myself. I didn’t break up with her well…there was so much I didn’t know how to articulate and so much I didn’t understand about the conviction I felt that this relationship was no longer a good fit for me. I was so new to making those kinds of choices.
I did it, but messily. It unfortunately went on to cost me several other friendships because they couldn’t handle that I’d dumped our mutual friend. If I’m fair, they had their own stuff to sort through. They ignored my calls and letters after years of life lived together. Perhaps they feared I’d break up with them too, so they got there first. I will never downplay the pain and confusion they must have felt, but I do wish they’d pushed through to ask me what they surely wanted to know: why. Why had I broken up with someone who I’d been so loyal, so close with? Perhaps we all would have found a bit more clarity and healing together before going our separate ways.
I did it because I had to. There was just no two ways about it.
That’s all I knew at the time- and it was enough. Not enough to save the other friendships. Not enough to save me a lot of pain and turmoil over the decision. in the coming years. But it was enough that day to say the words I could scarcely believe I was saying. I said yes to me in a profound way that day. I have not been the same since.
I’ve uncovered many layers within this necessary decision. I do not doubt or regret the decision, or even the other relationships lost…only how it was executed. This regret must remain paired with grace regarding the lack of skill, lack of knowledge in charting my own course, and lack of experience being brutally honest about what I think and feel when it will disappoint someone else.
I share this to be honest about my story. It’s messy and at times confusing, certainly not perfect and painful far more often than I’d like. But my life is becoming more beautiful than I’d dared ever imagine… because it’s becoming mine, not an image of someone else’s crafted with fear and desperation. I want to share anything I can that will help anyone reading these words who shares my desperation, my propensity to idolize another vs. live authentically, my lack of skill and knowledge regarding the power and light within. Never compare yourself to me- don’t you dare. But you can let the things you read here and in other blogs/books/lives be a light to you on your own path.
May the long time shine upon you. All love surround you. And the pure light within you guide your way on.