I’d like to think I know myself. Hell, I *know* I know myself. My old therapist (who I start seeing again in about a month…squee!) told me I was the most self-aware person she had ever met. She took it as a sign of my commitment to therapy. But, really, it’s been a daily battle for most of my adult life. Because, for most of my childhood and teen years–all the way to early adult years–I had no effing clue who I was. I knew I was a good person, sure–but I didn’t know what good meant. I knew I was probably like my parents in horrifying ways–but never the extent to which I now know I am. I didn’t even know what I felt most of the time. I ran from emotion–stuffed them down and numbed out without even blinking. All without any substances.
But eventually, life breaks you down. The things you run from? Well, they come for you. You can only tell yourself one version of the truth for so long. Karma exists. Big time. I was reminded of that this week when I found out some sad news. And while I was definitely sad for this person I used to love–the coincidences in this news were not lost on me. And I wondered–is he thinking about how he treated me back then?
I’ve lost faith in this person as being the person I used to love–so I doubt very much that he even went there. But that’s what I thought. And I couldn’t help but think his journey with what I’ve lived with for the last several years is going to be much harder than my own because of it.
Mostly because there’s a big difference between him and me. And there’s no right or wrong about it. But it does reflect why we never worked out and the different paths we took to get here. For me–hiding was something forced on me–something I learned to survive and slowly removed from my life–something I commit to every day. Even when it hurts like Hell. I’m grateful for the pain. Him? Hiding is something he embraced just because that’s who he is. I didn’t know this when I loved him, but then I didn’t know who I loved. Mostly because I barely knew who I was myself.
Anyway–while I was sad for this news–I did have one hope…perhaps he’ll find his way to a more authentic way of living on his journey out of the dark. I only wish him well. I only wish he could be the amazing person I always believed he was.
There are many things cooking for me lately–things requiring biographies and profiles and blurbs about me. I know who I am in my bones. I am comfortable in my skin. I can show you who I am in an instant. But writing about it? Oh, Lord. I stare at the screen. I write, delete, write too much, overedit, and then end up with something that says nothing or perhaps everything.
I’m like this when writing up candidates too. So, usually, I stick to the facts. Education, experience, and a few blurbs about personality or interests. Short, sweet, hollow.
I’m writing these things for work, for a new creative project, future grad school apps, and a a dating profile. Which I’ve done a million times before and probably failed. I often wish I had my old profile back from my LavaLife days. Somehow, I’m guessing that was more authentic than anything I could write now.
I’m probably overthinking it. And who cares what your profile or bio says? Except I do care. And well, I think my inability to voice who I actually am has actually brought less than ideal people into my life. I’m not going to badmouth any of my exes because I really have nothing bad to say about any of them anymore, really, but my friends are right. I attract sociopaths and psychopaths. People who have addiction gray areas. And I know why. See…I know myself. I am most at home in chaos–and those who feel like home are dysfunctional and selfish and usually all those things that go with shitty behavior. I read recently that such people tend to be super attracted to people just like me. Why? We’re loyal to a fault. We don’t shy away from them. And we give way too much. It’s part of a broken cycle. And I need to start being less damn comfortable. And more accurately, I need to be able to express who I am now that I’ve grown up a bit. Now that I know my worth. Extend some boundaries. Be the person I am now. Just not a ball of quirks that can be manipulated and controlled. My last dating nightmare really showed me that I still attract these bozos. The married man pretending to not be married thing was what got me offline for what I thought was for good. But eff that. I am an accomplished person. Surely, I can date online. Surely, if Honey Boo Boo’s mother can find a guy, I can. I do wonder, though–am I too picky? Or maybe that’s the insecure part of me settling?
In any event…since I have all these profiles to write…I decided to take some time with it. Do some self-exploration–real digging around. So I’m going to complete some exercises and share them here over the next who knows how long–till I feel I’m done and can write.
And yes–I probably shouldn’t share all these things here. But you know what? My life is about transparency. I’m not about to stop now.
- What activity in your life lights you up with joy?
Creating, exploring, being alone for vast stretches of the day, being around kids and animals, collaborating with smart people, talking about deep shit, using my camera.
- What is something you always love doing, even when you are tired or rushed? Why?
I love doing those little self-care things like washing my face with great products or eating really well. These things are such treats for me–mostly because I just don’t do them for myself as often as I should. When I actually remember and see how easy it was, I appreciate them even more.
- If a relationship or job makes you unhappy, do you choose to stay or leave?
I used to be someone who would never leave a bad thing. I would instead stay and convince myself this thing was better than it was–that I was the problem. That I was just too lazy or unlovable. That I just needed to try harder or be better. That it would change if I just worked hard enough.
There is a real part of me that still lives there. Only there’s another part of me that gets very angry. That starts poking at the bear. That instigates and causes problems. That says shit to get things to move. These two parts of me are in this heated battle, and I am often very conflicted about these things because of it. Both are self-destructive and sabotaging, in different ways. Eventually, though, if something is bad–I tend to leave it. Not always in a loving or graceful way. Often in an explosive and angry way. I’m working on owning that it’s okay to leave shit that feels bad. That I don’t have to justify it or feel guilt or be angry. But that may still be a ways off.
- What do you fear about leaving a bad job or a bad relationship?
Hurting other people. Always. Giving up on someone/thing that isn’t actually bad. Maybe I’m too hard on them. Maybe I AM the problem. Having my entire world change and putting myself at risk without any safety net.
- What do you believe is possible for you?
I still think anything is possible, but sometimes I wonder if I actually want the things I’m striving for.
- What have you done in your life that you are most proud of?
Survived. And not just in the existing sort of way. I’ve gotten through some shit and I’m a pretty hopeful, joyful person still. I really shouldn’t be, after everything, so I guess I’m proud of that.
- What is the thing that you are second most proud of?
Getting out of poverty. Even though I am more uncomfortable than ever and confront it on a daily basis.
- What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind?
Something my parents would be proud of. I don’t think about legacies much anymore.
- How does your being here in the universe change humanity for the better?
I think I have unique things to say about grief and death. I think I can help people express their experiences and heal.
- If you could have one single wish granted, what would it be?
Right now, just that the last year of hate and Donald Trump would be reversed. I think we’re on a dangerous road.
- How comfortable are you with your own mortality?
No–not at all. I think it may be my one last true fear.
- What is your highest core value?
Transparency. Which to me is about being vulnerable & having integrity.
- To your best knowledge, how do other people perceive you?
I’m not sure. In the past, I’ve been known as a goody goody smartypants perfectionist. Probably still some version of that.
- How would you like others to perceive you?
I don’t know that I actually care.
- How confident are you in your abilities to make decisions for yourself?
Pretty confident–though I often find myself talking to others to convince myself of what I know is true.
- What is your biggest self-limiting belief?
I’m still working off some guilt–that I deserve bad things–that I am not worthy of being happy. That all things turn to shit eventually for me.
- Who is the most important person in your life?
Myself. I’m not really attached to anyone else at the moment.
- Who is your greatest role model?
I don’t really believe in role models anymore.
- Who is a person that you don’t like yet you spend time with?
Oh, I’m not going there.
- What is something that is true for you no matter what?
I feel like whatever shows up in my life is all part of something I need. And that, whatever happens, I’ll be okay.
- What is your moral compass in making difficult decisions?
That gut feeling is still my best indicator. Usually, I bounce thoughts off others just to make sure I’m feeling what I’m feeling.
- What is one failure that you have turned into your greatest lesson?
Probably TFA. It was pretty devastating, and I was lost for a long time. But I think it really made me much more self-aware about how I punish myself and helped me choose better paths for myself.
- What role does gratitude play in your life?
I think it’s a very big part of who I am, but I don’t always say things out loud. I’m a person who does things. So I come at life with a grateful heart, but I often may forget to say thank you to people. I’ve learned that some people need that more than others. I’m not someone who does, usually, and wasn’t raised to be that way. So, it’s a hard lesson for me and something I try to embrace.
- How do you feel about your parents?
They still break my heart. I forgive them. I love them. I miss them.
- How is your relationship with money?
Complicated. I feel like so much of my life has been about overcoming what poverty did to our family and so much of my daily struggles with fear come from that place.
- How do you feel about growing old someday?
I really look forward to it. But I’m never gonna retire.
- What role has formal education played in your life and how do you feel about it?
The more educated I become, the more I see through the BS of education. It’s something they can never take away from you, and I’m beyond grateful for it–but I definitely would do things differently.
- Do you believe your destiny is pre-determined or in your hands to shape however you wish?
Maybe a bit of both. I don’t really know or care much. I just try to take it a step at a time.
- What do you believe is the meaning of your life?
To help other people suffer less. To suffer less myself.