Dear…You Know Who You Are,
If someone comes off as insecure to you, give them some space. They might be working on it. There’s a lot of people in this world who act like sharks. They smell blood and they go in for the kill. Now, I like animals. But some animals I’d rather keep at a distance. Some animals belong behind a glass in the aquarium. Or in the ocean. Some animals belong in natural history museums. Some…may even qualify to be put on a plate next to some rice and broccoli. I’m just saying, salmon is delicious. So is shark. But let’s be honest: many of these animals do not belong in the work place. Unless of course you work in any of the aforementioned places. In which case I’m sure they have a barrier big enough to withstand you. Most work places would rather you not venture beyond your barrier though. So like…stay there. Or lay yourself on some sides and take a break.
My experience at Catholic University of America was full of pain. I was hurting. I’ve talked extensively about all of the things I felt was done to me there but I did not talk about the things I was ashamed of. One of the things I felt shame over was that in Philosophy and theology class, I would often challenge the professors and their teachings. I was very outspoken about what I felt was wrong because what I believed college to be was a place to genuinely and authentically learn. And that is what I was trying to do.
I feel ashamed because in many ways I don’t think those classes was a place for me to learn authentically. They were also seemingly low energy. I felt ashamed because I was a naturally enthusiastic and passionate person and they were…dead…to me. They couldn’t function without coffee, they couldn’t open up unless drunk. I think I felt ashamed to be so open and happy and positive and passionate about my studies when the rest of the people I met were not. Or did not seem to be. The world there was too small for me. Speaking from the heart here. I really hated my time there.
I understand now that I have nothing to be ashamed of. I actually really cared about the content of the course and challenged the information and the teachers because I truly wanted to learn more. I was genuinely intrigued. And even though others might have an opinion about me that is not favorable, I don’t have to feel that it is indeed true for me. It’s about them. It’s about their expectations of me, which I don’t have to fulfill. It’s about what they think about themselves and the expectations they try to place on others and the world around them.
I don’t have to be afraid of the truth of myself. I don’t have to worry so much about every demeaning eye roll because someone wanted to convey a message. The truth of who I really am is stronger than that. For one: I did not die at Catholic University. 2. My ex boyfriend’s friends and family did not kill me. 3. I survived a horrible first clinical experience and got myself out.
Honestly, if it’s one thing I can say about myself it’s that I always always always speak the truth. And that’s what I think saves me every time.
There’s so many things I wish I could’ve said to my younger self. There are other ways to get closure. Don’t get back with that guy, his insecurities will only serve to stress you out. The people you thought were your friends are actually not a real match for you. Don’t be afraid to end a relationship that’s toxic to you. Trust yourself implicitly. The list goes on. But I would never say it because I would cease to exist and I don’t lament my existence.
Perhaps the one thing I would tell my younger self is that sense of purpose she feels in her soul, cultivate it and don’t let anyone or anything detract her from nurturing that fire within. Cultivate your purpose. Figure out what it is you like to do and do it well. Do it to the best of your ability because how you do what you do, no one else can do. There is only one you.
If reincarnation is real, I’d like to come back with the sole purpose of focusing on writing and cultivating my spiritual gifts. Falling in love with the Divine creation in the mirror is a lifelong task that I am happily engaged in on a daily basis. True love. A transformative love. I would pass this information on to my younger self. I have asked myself, “how would I say it so that I can get my message across to her?” Here’s what I’ve got so far:
Creation of the Divine,
Know that you are worthy and loved. Know that you are a beautiful reflection of the Divine because He made you in His image. God loves You, for You. There is nothing you need to prove or do that could add or detract from His love. You are not required to act like anyone in order to experience His loving grace and mercy. You are not required to be with anyone in order to experience His love and support. You do not need anyone’s permission to live your best and greatest life. Forgiveness is an energy that liberates the perpetrator and the forgiver. Forgive others, forgive yourself. In your forgiveness, you are not required to take anyone back, keep them around, feign niceness, or try to make a relationship work that you know is broken. Open your heart to new possibilities. Trust yourself. Love yourself for God loves you. Allow yourself to explore and discover who you truly are without guilt or remorse.
Your older self
It’s been a real struggle for me learning how to take responsibility for my own actions while not taking on responsibility for the behavior of adults because they are family. Not understanding the importance of allowing people to take ownership for their stuff the way I take ownership of my own stressed me out. I’ve wanted to feel appreciated and respected by my family and I haven’t felt that way. I often feel unheard, bullied, belittled, disrespected, and like my boundaries don’t matter. It made me feel angry and I just didn’t know how to deal with it. There are systems already in place that have no room for me as the adult I am now.
The solution is learning to be more self-sufficient. Having my own place and managing my own affairs. I need to figure out how to do this. Having that ownership without looking to them for validation will help me better create boundaries. I’ve come to understand that this is an important part of me not seeking their approval and validation because they can not give me what I need. And what I need is a respectful, loving, and supportive system that values honesty, transparency, and a willingness to “speak to the mountain” (respectfully) if an issue arises. I need to be in a place that nourishes my soul.
By grace I am still alive. By grace I keep moving. I cry at the drop of a hat these last few days, realizing so much about myself and the way in which I view the world. I want to know what it means see self-love in action. One of the things I know is that I like myself. I think I carry some really great attributes and that I put in the effort to be the best person I can be and to develop myself. I like me. I care enough about myself to keep going and I enjoy my own company. But I feel like in the past I have done the right things for the wrong reasons.
To love oneself is to be happy with the person you are, to celebrate who you are, to feel a sense of completeness in your own being, because you exist. Not because you are expecting some sort of reward or social recognition by doing so. To love oneself means to look at myself in the mirror and allow myself to see who I truly am and to appreciate what’s staring back at me in the mirror because what I see is beautiful. It means to really see myself and love her as a beautiful reflection of the Divine from a place of knowing, not expecting others in the world to validate this knowledge.
I’d like to focus on self-love.
I tried to go along to get along. I tried to be meek. I told myself, “The meek shall inherit the Earth”. I got run over. I got taken advantage of. It was implied I was a tool. The people who hung around me often times weren’t my real friends, they were users. They didn’t care about me, only what they could get from me. And they got a lot while I sacrificed my wishes and my dignity.
Lately, something inside of me has been clicking that maybe standing up for myself is just a life lesson I had to learn from even a young age, possibly even during a time when I had hoped my parents would do it. But my mother could not do it because she had not learned of her own worth. You can never truly give someone something you don’t have. Because my more did not want to ask for what she deserved, she wasn’t able to teach me how to do it. As a result, I had to teach myself. Otherwise, I’d suffer.
One of the things I have come to accept is that no matter what position anyone holds, no matter their age, race, creed, lifestyle, no matter what you believe they can do for you, it’s important that you speak up and stand up for yourself. Be your own advocate and be proud of who you are and what you are. You deserve it as a beautiful reflection of the Divine. Own who you are. Own what you are. Love it. Advocate on your own behalf.
That is what that painful experience in the NICU that resulted in me recently waking up in the morning with a sense of panic was about. Realizing that to expect others to advocate for me all the time is futile. The message was to teach me the importance of not going along to get along. It was to tell me that it was not necessary or even healthy to be completely passive. Express how you feel. Say what you want. Speak up. Love yourself enough to do it. Love yourself enough to know you matter. Acknowledge that you matter! Because you do.
Asserting yourself isn’t being controlling of other people. It’s self-control. It means that you’re telling people clearly and concisely what you want and taking ownership of your behavior and how you go about communicating that to others. It’s okay. It’s not abusive. It’s honest. As I’ve come to step further into my own womanhood and adulthood, this has become even more important. Once again, just tell the truth.