I spent most of my life giving myself away.
Here’s why that didn’t work.
I took care of others in the hopes that it would be returned in an equal or similar way. I would easily give up my body to men, because I thought sex was equivalent to love. In friendships, I used money to buy the loyalty of others. At the office, I would spend hours and hours away from home, giving others my ideas in the hopes that they would like me.
Two failed marriages, disastrous friendships and arguments with family members were a few of the symptoms that something was not right in my life. I looked outside myself for reasons why I was so angry and negative about every experience. If I wanted to be happy and live a joyful life, I had to stop making excuses and take responsibility for my life.
Soul searching and self-improvement became my hobby. I read books, went to classes and made an effort to get out of my comfort zone to meet new people and try new things. It sounds easy, but the change did not happen overnight. There were therapists, healers, friends and others along the way that helped me understand what unconditional love really means.
Here’s what I’ve learned:
1. Power of “No”: I spent six years in an unhappy marriage because I was afraid to say no. I look back at how many times I said yes to people and events just because I did not want to disappoint them. I never considered the lack of joy or happiness I would create for myself; I was only worried about pleasing the other person.
2. Quality over Quantity: For a long time I defined my worth by the size of my house, my car and my clothes. I could hide my fears and loneliness behind the labels and the expensive vacations. I thought people would only love me for my salary and corporate career. I never considered that I had anything to offer other than things.
3. Let Go: There was a time in my life that I believed it was my job to lift people up and take care of them while sacrificing my own health and happiness. To break free of this pattern I had to let go of several friendships and establish boundaries about what I was willing to accept.
4. Health as a priority: Pain and mild illness were a common thing in my life. It seemed as though I had a cold or bronchitis every three weeks. I took so many supplements and antibiotics that my hair started falling out. My back and shoulders were often sore and painful from carrying the weight of everyone’s problems in my body. When I developed pneumonia I decided that I was not going to allow illness to take over my life any longer.
The majority of my new relationships are based on common interests and similar history. We value the spirit and the soul of one another rather than the things we possess.
I forgive myself when I fall back into the old patterns. There are times that I still say “yes,” when I really want to say “no,” but it’s way less often than before. Life happens and I realize that the mistakes I make are just lessons that become wisdom in this life.
Author: Julie Barr
Apprentice Editor: Kari Miller / Editor: Nicole Cameron
Image: Amy Treasure/Unsplash