To Thine Own Self Be True

2021 Theme: Truth, Intention, and Soul-Improvement

For those who have known me for a while, you know that I do not participate in New Year resolutions—and to those who are new to this craziness I call my life, welcome, I’m glad you’re here, please take your seat and prepare…for what I’m not yet certain, but I digress.

So, instead of a list of resolutions, I prefer to choose a theme for my year. For example, I have had Years of Awesomeness, Adventure, and Odyssey. Despite my consistency in this practice, I totally forgot about my 2020 theme until it reemerged from the depths of Facebook memories yesterday.

My 2020 theme was a “Year of Personal Conquest.” Now, I realize on 1/1/2020 none of us foresaw the debacle last year would become, and in hindsight, or maybe if I had been given the gift of prophecy, I would have reconsidered this theme. Why? Because I believe the universe took it as a challenge. It decided that while I saw the material gain of my achievements as personal conquests, it would raise me an emotional/spiritual journey I was not prepared for, and to be quite honest, has thrown my life so off kilter I feel as though I’m Alice, tumbling down the rabbit hole, praying I land somewhere safe.

It started simply enough this summer. I just graduated with my doctorate, I was working fulltime for the first time in years, my children were healthy and flourishing (if not a little disgruntled about being cooped up inside thanks to COVID), my husband and I were both employed and doing well for ourselves, and by all outward appearances things were good—should have been amazing in fact. I should have felt on top of the world, but I didn’t. If I am being honest with myself (part of my theme for 2021), while I try to keep up a cheery, put-together outward appearance, I’ve struggled beneath the surface with self-doubt, the constant need to prove my worth, and loneliness for as long as I can remember

So, there I was (as every great story should begin—for my pilot friends 😊), sitting with a coworker (who would eventually become a friend), discussing something I no longer remember. What I do remember is that he asked me pointblank what my gut was telling me about the situation. Now, trusting my gut is not something I do well, unless I perceive danger—more on that shortly—so when I gave my standard, kneejerk response, “I don’t know,” this coworker fervently stated his annoyance with my response. This, of course, annoyed me, but I couldn’t quite pinpoint the reason it annoyed me, other than the fact that he annoyed me. Maybe I just didn’t know, damnit! Isn’t it okay to not know? But perhaps (again, said with an amount of hindsight) his statement annoyed me because I did know what my gut was telling me, but I’ve been conditioned since as early as I can remember to doubt myself and my reality (gaslighting). It is at this point in my story that I would insert some comical statement about how the universe initiated a clever chess move against me, but alas, I don’t know how to play chess. Stupid universe.

Always doubting one’s reality, not trusting my own inner compass—that’s a difficult concept from which to finally waken. I am learning that patterns from my youth, patterns that were ingrained in me long before I had any clear sense of self, have directly affected me and continue to affect who I am today. I have allowed others to inform what is best for me, what decisions I should or should not make, and how I feel about different situations even if their advice was in direct conflict with what I was feeling inside.

I have ignored myself and dismissed myself, at the expense of myself. I have been very good at distracting myself through achievement because 1) of the aforementioned need to always prove my worth and 2) staying busy was easier than acknowledging that deep down something wasn’t right. I am not talking major lifestyle changes, but rather, a coming to better know, understand, speak up for and respect the one person I live with for my entire life. I will no longer treat her worse than she would treat others. I will no longer apologize for her.

I know the hard work is just beginning, but it is in confronting the difficult that growth occurs. Thank you to my friends and family who are joining me on this journey. Thank you for allowing me to cry, feel, and process without judgment or shame. And cheers to 2021, my Year of Truth, Intention and Soul-improvement, come what may.

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