Reinvent yourself, reclaim your essence

Reclaim yourself from the living dead. Life beckons”
Srividya Srinivasan

Until the last few weeks I had noticed myself saying, “This is not how I normally behave.” “This is so out of character for me.” “I don’t normally do this.”

It’s been fifteen months since the dissolution of my marriage, since my life change irrevocably in so many ways, for the better, mostly. In this time, I’ve become aware of and begun dismantling some of the habits, beliefs and behaviours that developed during the past 22 years.  Initially, I didn’t know how to define myself without the construct of that relationship around me. Who was I when the persona I’d built, to live within the confines of the relationship, was no longer needed?  How do I navigate the world as a middle aged single woman? It was all very puzzling at first because I no longer had to do many of the things I’d always done now that I was no longer in a relationship. My approach to life was different. Routines fell away because I realised I’d created them to provide a sense of control over my life when I had very little control over the direction or depth of my relationship. Interactions with people changed too. I became more patient with people and more gracious. As a result of my intense pain I noticed I was more accepting of others, willing to listen more, less quick to judge or dismiss. Then of course interactions with men changed too. I was able to have deeper and longer conversations. Spend time with a range of men, things you don’t do, well, I didn’t do, in a marriage. I could go out and not worry about being home at certain times. I could go out on a ‘school night’ even.

It slowly dawned on me that I didn’t have to follow the same rules. That I could choose differently.  I began to let go of “you must be who you’ve always been” and just watched where things led.

I’ve experienced things I haven’t before because of the situation I was in, but I can make different choices now.  If a behaviour doesn’t feel right, then I know that I won’t repeat it. If a thought doesn’t gel, then I won’t go down that road again. But just because I haven’t done or thought or said particular things over the last 20 years or so doesn’t mean I’m not being me or that I’m acting out of character, it just means I’m exploring the possibilities, nudging structures that may no longer serve me. And you know what? If I wake up disappointed with myself, I can always start over and begin again.

The last year has been like an experiment to create a new identity for myself. It’s work in progress, so I don’t think I’ll be bursting through a ribbon, at a convenient end point, proclaiming a bright and shiny new me. The process is more like a resurrection. It’s like a remembering and rediscovering of my truth, a truth that become hidden among the needs of others, a truth hidden in the recesses of memory and youth, if it ever truly had time to develop in the first place. I feel that I’m re-emerging and reframing my life.  I’m discovering that what and who I always thought I was isn’t necessarily true anymore. I am reclaiming the essence of who I am and redefining myself.

If you find yourself in a similar position, my advice is to: resurrect, reclaim, restart and keep moving forward.

 

Advertisements

From rollercoaster to transformation – Happy New Year

As we know ourselves more, truly anything is possible. When you connect to your true self, then life is limitless and anything you can possibly imagine can be your reality.” ~Yut

I rode an emotional rollercoaster in 2018 and at times experienced a curious duality where I felt like I was watching from a higher vantage point, witnessing the ride, the twists and turns and the transformations. It was a challenging year yet one of the richest and most rewarding years of my life. My 22-year relationship and 20-year marriage dissolved in January. I was floored and absolutely broken for a time. Can I say that 12 months on I’m completely healed? Can we ever say that with absolute certainty? There’s so much involved and tangled up in the healing process of a relationship of this length ending, but I’m in a good place, a solid place.

One of the biggest priorities for me, after this unexpected wake up call, was to strip back a lifetime of behaviours and exceptions to rediscover who I was before all the years of conditioning.

I now realise the absolute truth in the saying – “behaviour happens in a context”.  So often over the course of the year I found myself behaving ‘out of character’, then realising that perhaps it wasn’t. Perhaps it was just different to the way I had behaved previously, under the veil of restriction.  There were times my opposite reaction to what I might previously have chosen, was a stunning revelation.  I feel like I am blooming. I feel alive and full of love for life.

I realise now I have spent the majority of my life carefully crafting a persona that I thought others wanted of me, wanted me to be. I projected to the world a conventional, well-behaved, educated, ‘proper’ front.  It never sat well with me, but I felt my worthiness was measured by toeing the line and by striving to be the best at anything I could be.  I strove for perfection. I created routines and structures to keep the illusion going. I did this to support a need for validation and to feel safe.  I needed to feel safe in a world where I was neglecting my true self.

So, imagine the chaos a marriage breakup causes to someone who has behaved in line with perceived expectations, who has restricted themselves for the benefit of others, who has chosen not to follow their passion, so others could follow theirs, who has hidden their spirituality because it wasn’t approved of or understood, who did not reveal their strongest, deepest desires for fear of ridicule. It throws everything off kilter and out of balance.

I had put myself in a box and suddenly I had the opportunity to see life, the world and myself differently. 2018 was a year of summoning all my courage to delve deeply into and take personal responsibility for how I had been. It was a frightening, revealing and ultimately satisfying journey to openly look into the dark crevices of my emotions and behaviours to learn how I had been blocking my own growth. In my pursuit of a more meaningful life I built a relationship with myself that I had abandoned at a young age.

 To find the true me, to allow her to emerge, I had to be willing to let go and erase parts of myself that were causing chaos rather than bringing balance. For the first time I started to listen to my passion rather than my fear. It was uncomfortable at first for the façade I’d presented to the world had to go.  Some people around me were challenged by my emergence, while others fully supported and cheered me on. I can’t thank these amazing, genuine, loving people enough for stepping forward to support me. Having these incredible people around me and accepting their love and support has been a humbling experience.  I cannot begin to name them all for they are many; they live close and afar, we have known each other for years and relatively recently. I have grown as a result of their love as much as my own self-discovery.

As this year begins I am full of a love for life that is new to me. I am full of love for friends and family. I feel strong. I feel more fully myself than I ever have. I am learning to love myself, the whole mixed bag of contradictions, intricacies and quirks. This is a year of continued transformation and I am so very excited for what lies ahead.

Happy New year.