Yesterday I posted this on Facebook:
“I won’t hide or change who I am to serve the whims of someone else. I won’t lie to hide someone else’s untruths, but I also won’t tell everyone everything just because they think they deserve to know. This is my life. I try to live it with kindness, directness, love, and wholly unapologetic. Though I’m not always good at it, I’m working hard to become better, the very best version of myself. And that’s good enough for me.”
Let’s break this bubble down.
Permission, perception, acceptance, extreme diplomacy, compromise to a fault, insecurity, fear, apologizing for who I am and what I want.
I’ve lived the better part of 40 years in a state of…
“Is it okay with you that I want to be happy? Does it make you uncomfortable when I do <insert dream, goal, passion>? Are you proud of me now? Do you still like me?”
Pathetic. Yeah, I’ll call like it is.
My point is I’ve lived my life hyper-anxiety ridden because I worried about everyone else’s happiness, lifting everyone else up, compromising my ideals and, sometimes, morals to be accepted and loved. I desperately wanted permission from other people to live my life. I wanted respect. I wanted some insane form of puppy dog approval from my masters as if that was the litmus by which I’d find ultimate happiness.
Where did it get me?
Twice divorced mother of four with few people I could count on and no money in the bank to pay for a pack of gum, not to mention important things like say rent… or power… or maybe food.
It also put me in the deepest, darkest bitch of a hole. One so deep I’d actually considered checking out. Dude, I was making plans. Like who would take care of my kid and how to divide up my crap plans. Like measuring how much damage it would do to my kids versus how much damage I was doing to them by being their mother plans.
We’re talking serious freaking abyss of nothingness with no foreseeable way out, save one, and me posed at the ready to take ticket to somewhere better than here. Because, in that moment, anywhere was better than here.
What stopped me? One word, the quietest sound I’d ever heard, not even a whisper.
For the first time in my life I said it.
Then I said it again, a loud hush of hot breath following closely behind.
And finally I yelled it out loud into the emptiness of that crushing black place until I heard it echoing back.
Next I said another word.
to my happiness.
to giving myself permission to follow my dreams.
to saying no to all the people who have an opinion about how I should live my life.
Here’s the thing, everyone has an opinion about how to live, but that perspective only applies to their life, not anyone else’s. That’s their truth, and I respect the choices they make for their universe. Why? By definition it’s their world, and I don’t have to pay their bills, or raise their kids, or wear their shoes. So, how the hell can I possibly know what’s right or wrong for them? I can’t.
They can’t possibly know what’s right or wrong for mine. More than that, they don’t have permission to because this is my life. And this is its new doctrine:
- Don’t ask permission to be happy, but don’t walk all over other people to live my happiness.
- Expect respect, but also give it. The caveat is not allowing people in my life who disrespect me via their words and actions.
- Be kind always.
- Have compassion for those struggling, but don’t take on their struggles as my own. This is a particularly difficult thing for me because I want to save the world *dons Super Woman cape*, but I now recognize I can’t do anything for anyone unless I’m doing it for myself first.
- Say no more than I say yes because I’m not every woman and it’s not all in me.
- Give myself permission instead of asking everyone else.
- Opinion isn’t fact.
- Stop being afraid of what other people think and do it anyway. (See #1 and #3)
- Accept responsibility for allowing people to behave poorly and disrespect me, then move on and stop allowing it.
- Always strive to be the very best version of myself.
Short and sweet, a list of personal commandments to live my life. These are my truths, born from years of experience, birthed from the joy and pain of four decades. I have no answers moving forward. The outline for my future is a cartoon sketch, which is bound to hold just as much laughter as tears. None of this will be easy, but all of it will be worth it.
And therein lies my ultimate truth.
Only I can craft my happiness and purpose.
Be certain it will involve lots of bubble blowing. 🙂
The questions I leave for you: What does your happiness look like? Are you living it?