Don’t we all wish we could proudly exclaim that we are the sole owner of our lives? I mean in the end, we are the ones, who will die our own death. Nobody is going to be able to do that for us. So why then would we not also own the life we live?
When I was sexually abused as a child by an adult, this choice just wasn’t an option. As kids, we rely on grownups to show us the ropes of life and provide us with the necessities to exist and grow. Ideally, we are raised with love and care and are shown that we can trust and respect the people around us. We are given the freedom to explore the world while being protected, until we are ready to venture out on our own and follow our heart’s desires. When we instead experience trauma as a child and learn that love comes at a price, our life’s choices become limited.
Because we all desire to be loved and cared for, especially as a child, we learn to adapt to what other people expect of us in the hopes to be accepted and cherished. Suddenly, the belief that we are already enough turns into the belief of “I am only enough, if… (fill in the blank)”. We develop habits from these thoughts that have us carry out actions, because we are sure that this will provide us with the love that we so desperately desire.
If you learn that love is not free early on in your life, it can build the foundation for any future relationships you encounter.
I was starving for love from my parents, when I was a child. As an adult I know that my parents were struggling through their own life and problems they had as a couple. They got married at a time and age, when you had no other option to marry, if there was a child on the way. I think my older brother was always keenly aware of the fact that he was the culprit for this marriage that wasn’t meant to be.
Unfortunately, abusers have the ability to recognize the child that would do anything to receive love from its surroundings. And so my abuser stepped right into this role and taught me that you are able to receive “love”, and be showered with gifts, money and earn special attention over your brothers, if you pay the price. As sick as it might sound, for a while I was super proud of having something “special” that my brothers were not receiving. I was always given the extra money and gifts. I was told that I was loved more than them, which I wasn’t supposed to share to not make anyone jealous. I figured out how to get things in life others weren’t getting. I just needed to follow the script of what people wanted that would get me what I so desperately needed.
This is the thought pattern that got engrained in my head early on. If I follow what others say, I can get what I need.
And I lived that pattern for the next 30 years of my life. I became a master at figuring out what other people want, so I could determine what it took to fulfill it and receive admiration and acceptance. In that sense I was quite a successful person.
What I couldn’t understand was why it left me so empty. I constantly felt that I wasn’t living life to the fullest and that I still hadn’t found what I wanted to do when I grow up. I jumped from job to job and became good at every single one of them, because I followed the script of getting the things done that mattered to others the most.
But I completely flunked out, when it came to relationships. Although I had friends, who liked me and who I supported in any way, I often heard them saying that when it came down to it, they didn’t really know me. I hadn’t really shared who I was with them and kept myself closed off.
It hit me even harder, when it came to partnerships. I had committed myself to being anything that the other person needed me to be. But when it came to intimacy, my past was still so stuck in my body that I wasn’t able to do that. Or when I did, I found myself in old coping mechanism of dissociating rather than being with the person in the present, so I could give them what they needed.
Sure I had dreams and desires along the way, but when I had the guts to follow them for a little while, I quickly retreated back to my old ways, if they did not receive the approval of others.
And before I knew it, I found myself standing on my own. Surrounded by people, who barely knew me, because I had lived my life according to theirs so much that I didn’t even know who I was on my own.
It was then that I realize that I needed to own my life. I looked around and identified all the roles I had taken on in order to please others and receive their approval and vowed to let them go.
I had a choice to make that only I could make.
I could either continue to follow other peoples’ paths in hope that one day I would hit the jackpot and find the one that would be able to give me the love I desire
I could pave my own path, learn to love myself first and foremost and lead by example. I didn’t wait for anyone else’s permission to do so. I took the chance and have not looked back.
Don’t get me wrong, it is not always easy to rewire my old habits and believe in myself first, but it is worth it.
If I love myself first, I don’t need the other people to tell me they love me. It becomes an added bonus, but not a requirement for life.
What will you do starting today to become the sole owner of your life? Comment below, I would love to hear it.