Well, it seems that I truly am learning to be me. Two years ago I didn’t have any idea what that meant or who I was. I still have a long way to go, but I’m finally getting comfortable in my own skin – to the point where I can say, “Take me as I am or watch me as I go.”
Many of the things I’ve learned about myself have not been good and sometimes I look at who I was – or wasn’t – and hate that person, or at least think how pathetic ‘she’ was. One of the biggest things I have realized lately is that I can’t be in a relationship because I can’t give what it takes. I’ve tried – several times – with wonderful, loving men who knew enough about me to understand that I needed time and understanding, but I still couldn’t do it. My mistake was in looking for a man who would make me feel whole – who would fill in the parts I was missing. A heartfelt talk with my sister helped me understand that a real relationship doesn’t happen with a man who fills in the missing parts, but from two whole people who come together and compliment each other. After that discussion I started to see how little I really knew about healthy relationships and how unready I was for anything.
I always thought loving a man meant that I set myself aside and did anything and everything my man wanted and needed to make him happy. That included wearing my hair the way he liked it, dressing in clothes he preferred, and generally doing whatever he wished in order to please him. Part of discovering who I am has been learning how to please me – discovering what I like to wear, how I like my hair, what I enjoy watching, reading, listening to, etc. It means wearing make-up to make me feel good, but also not wearing it and feeling okay with how I look. When I finally caught on, I was able to look at men differently.
I also thought I needed a man to complete me. I hated being lonely – disliked not having someone to depend on. Those are really bad reasons to be in a relationship. Eighteen years after the fact, I finally see that those two qualities were a huge part of what led me down the path of victimization and domestic violence. I need to work on completing myself. No one else can do it for me. I’ve known for quite a while that God wants to use me and I’ve wondered what He’s waiting for. I understand now that He is using me in different small ways, but that He can’t use me in mighty ways until I understand my identity, not just in me but also in Him.
I’m finally comfortable enough with myself to know what I like and to be able to voice it without compromise. I can stay true to myself and be confident that if someone else doesn’t like it or agree with me, we can either accept our differences and move forward, or we can part ways and move on separately. It’s okay to let people go sometimes. It just means your learning time with them has come to an end.
All this self-discovery is helping my confidence grow and I see people drawn to it. I am loved for who I am, not for what I can do for others. It’s liberating and it gives me great joy to know that my friends and family love my heart.
I find great peace in knowing that I do not need a man. Being lonely is normal and it’s okay – and now that I acknowledge it, I find I can go to God and He gets me through it. I only need to depend on Him – He never fails. I know I’m broken, but I finally accept that a man can’t fix me. When I was able to recognize that, I was also able to let go of the need to be in a relationship – I don’t want to hurt anyone or continue hurting myself – and now I don’t have to.
It’s difficult to write these things about myself. Everyone sees me as strong and independent and I don’t like letting people over the walls. I don’t like showing weakness, but I know that I can’t grow the way I need when I’m hiding in the shadow of my walls of self-preservation…but that’s a story for another day…