For the longest time, I thought there was something inherently wrong with me. Something that made me doomed to fail and completely unlovable. That was a heavy burden to bear. Every morning I woke up with the feeling that I was a failure. And every day I worked so hard to prove myself wrong. Despite all my hard work, I never thought I could be happy.
That stress you’ve placed upon your shoulders is going to crush you. Get rid of it. You don’t need to be perfect. You don’t need to have it all together. You don’t need to please everyone. Place that heavy burden on the ground. Throw it into the sea. Expel it from your being. You will be lighter in mind, body, and soul. You have to learn to say no without feeling guilty. Setting boundaries is healthy. You need to learn to respect and take care of yourself. ~Unknown
Who I Thought I Was Made No Sense
As long as I can remember my parents labeled me as lazy and undisciplined, and I believed them wholeheartedly. Despite the obvious evidence against their claims.
When I was in high school I participated in a wide variety of activities. I played in the school band, I set up and ran the school paper, I started an Amnesty International writing group, I wrote and directed school plays and outside of school I did both paid and volunteer work. All that and I still also managed to pass my classes (although admittedly not with the grades my mother wanted me to). In any case, I was able and successful at keeping quite a few balls in the air.
What I have now learned is that I did something my mother is incapable of: I relaxed. I was able to sit and read a book, to listen to music and sing and dance like a lunatic. I was able to sit down and watch a film. I have realized since then that my mother’s head is in such chaos, she is incapable of spending even a minute in there. And so she keeps busy. The old house they live in is in constant need of paint or repair and makes a great project. The massive garden is lovely to complain about, and another never ending chore. I consciously use the word chore, because I believe this is how she really feels about gardening. She says she ‘loves’ it, but I only ever heard her complain about ‘having to do the garden’. The same was true for cooking or walking the dog.
Projection is the Name of the Game
Having gone through life believing my parents’ labels, imagine the surprise when my partner one day said: Your mother is so lazy. I was lost for words and asked him what he meant. He kindly told me that although my mother was always busy, it was never with real conviction. She was moving her hands, but she was not actually attempting to achieve anything real. In short, he explained to me that laziness and business are not actually opposites.
So many of the bad habits that my mother assigned to me are in fact her own faults. She did not only call me lazy, but egocentric, undisciplined, non-athletic… there is more, but you get the drift. I was a bad, bad person. When this was the image I was painted of myself, how could I ever believe I was worthy of love, success, and happiness?
The Definition of Happiness
Since starting on my Survivor Journey I have learned that I was not only given an incorrect definition of myself. I relied on a wide range of corrupt definitions, that greatly decrease my chances to succeed at anything. I had a very warped sense of what a good partner was, a good employee, a successful human-being… The list truly is endless. Amongst those incorrect definitions, was a very warped sense of what happiness is. My mother had made me believe that happiness is something that comes from being constantly busy. I suppose it makes sense that her definition of happiness was planted firmly outside the environment of her own mind. It makes sense she needed to be busy, to shut her own thoughts out in pursuit of happiness.
I Did Not Find Happiness, Happiness Found Me
A few weeks ago I suddenly realized I am happy. It has taken a few years since learning about my family’s toxicity, but it is true:
I AM HAPPY
My life is not perfect, there are many things that I would like to change or improve. That is not what happiness is to me now. I am happy because the people in my life love me, they want me to succeed. Oh, and that count of ‘people in my life’ includes myself. I have learned to appreciate my talents, and not feel guilty for my shortcomings (most days anyway ;)). I have learned to make small tweaks to my behavior, in order to manifest great change to my life.
My new definition of happiness is one of balance, potential, and love. All things that never featured in my life before I cut out the toxicity.