I hate pretence. It’s like you haven’t read the T&Cs that come with, what seems to be, a selfless conversation on how much someone cares about you.
a. “I know it’s your birthday, so I thought we could go shopping. Yes, I know you’re looking at theatre tickets, but I’d just prefer to go shopping.” The emotional blackmail was too much and we went shopping. #truestory
b. “I want to make you a birthday cake, so I thought I’d make a meringue. I know you don’t like it, but I’ve found a great recipe and it will look incredible. And everyone else loves it.” I see. You want to do this for the show of it and other people. Not. For. My. Birthday. Another #truestory.
c. “When I said I had a surprise for you, what I meant was that I was using this as an excuse to see you, because it’s been ages.” Ah, when I said I was into theatre, I didn’t mean your school play, actually. And truth is, I probably have been avoiding you because you drain me. I simply don’t have the resilience to be around you. But now you have me cornered, because you have something ‘for me’.
Please, don’t ever make me think you have selflessly put me first. In all honesty, my expectations are very low and I never expect this from anyone apart from my husband. So saying or implying that you are putting me first when you aren’t, is actually more hurtful than just saying:
a. I want to go shopping and want you to come. I can prepare mentally for this if I CHOOSE to accompany you.
b. I want to show off how bloody awesome I am. Granted, I’d still be pissed off if you did this under the guise of my birthday, but hell, at least your ego isn’t over shadowed in this light.
c. I feel like you’re avoiding me. Is everything ok? We can then talk about the real shit that is happening here. Surprises make me feel like I should be grateful to you for something, even if this isn’t that real point.
I have recently learnt how important choice is to me. For too long, I lived my life on the terms that other people needed from me. In the bubble they wanted me in. Their feelings and needs were more important than mine. Their convenience was more important than mine. Their choice was more important than mine.
Relationships which took away my choice are now changing. And with this change comes a mix of emotions. I feel loss for the closeness that was built on how I used to be, but I also feel relief. I will choose to opt out of experiences that emotionally drain me. I will choose how I spend my time, after all it isn’t in endless supply and I’ll be damned if I waste it. And I will choose who I have in my life.
There will be times that I turn a blind eye to how un-selfless your apparent selflessness is, because I realise you need me. Other times I will be hurt by it; sad that I believed you could put me first. I will come to terms with the anger and upset I feel when I realise, yet again, that I’ve been used, manipulated or deprioritised.
But always, I will forgive. I’ll focus on how lucky I am to have many people in my life that like me, or will focus on the nice traits I must have that people want to see me. I will forgive, because quite frankly I have no space for hurt. And I will grow and remember how far I have come when I used to live by the rules other needed me to.
But don’t get me wrong. I won’t do this at the detriment of my own well-being. Not anymore. I’ll do this so I can continue to build the life I want, the one I choose to have. I will do this openly and…. selfishly.
I’m sorry if our relationship doesn’t survive this. I just can’t live in the bubble you want me to be in. If your selfless love for me understands this, then we will be ok. If it doesn’t… well, I’d like to give you back this relationship. Because it was never for me. Not really.
By October 2015, I had quit my job, sold my flat, got married and embarked on a year long adventure. Otherwise known as a honeymoon/running away from being a grown up.
We had two one way tickets to Hong Kong, a backpack each and enough electrical devices to power a small town. Given this leap of faith into the unknown, it’s strange that setting up a blog to practice my writing in a safe space is, well, scary.
I work in marketing. I know no one will see this unless I proactively push it out. And then I realise what I’m doing. I’ve raided my mental wardrobe and have found a trusty favourite of mine – the fear hat. This hat that has a case of mistaken identity. It thinks it’s my favourite pair of jeans – the ones that have moulded to me, that I could wear everyday. It attaches itself to me like I’ve picked it, like I want to wear it. But come on, how unflattering is it?! Why would I choose to wear this?!
Despite its identity crisis, fear hat has a strength that I’m retaliating against. But it’s brief interlude gave me insight into how far I’ve come since October 2015, when I left everything I knew to create something brand new.
Fear used to, and still does, cripple me. It makes think I’m not good enough, that things won’t work out, that getting out of bed is just too hard. It makes me so worried about things, that I break. It’s easy to fall into catastrophic thinking and negative self talk when fear hat is on.
But now, I’ve learnt how to take off that hat.
I’m realising how feeling my emotions and not blocking them away, is actually healthy. I worked so hard at showing the world I was ok, that I was good enough, successful enough, independent enough, that all I was actually doing was running away from my fear of failure. And my fear of feeling anything.
In accepting fear and it’s ugly wardrobe accessories, I’m actually growing. I’ve learnt to control my thoughts, to take a check on my mental well being and have learnt to have more control on my life. It’s an ongoing process and one that’s had help from CBT, therapy, mindfulness and meditation!
Changing your mental wardrobe, can happen. For me, it’s not a ten step plan or a “listicle” (although who can resist these!). It’s a process that I don’t think I should ever stop learning from. It’s an attitude, that I do have control. And it’s a belief that life can be as incredible as I make it.
Mojo&Me was about having a safe space to share my life musings. But in it’s creation I’ve suddenly appreciated who I am, what I believe and seen holistically for the first time, my path in getting here.
My dress of self-belief seems to have just come back from the cleaners – and it’s looking lovely. I wonder if it knows how much I’ve missed it. Now, if you’ll excuse me… I just need to change.