When I was working to escape my controlling ex-boyfriend, I came up with a motto for myself. “Freedom, Spirit and Joy.” I am wired for words and I repeated this mantra to myself regularly. It was a promise to myself that I would get away. It was a reminder to myself that I would not forget the things that I want in life, the things I deserve. It brought me comfort and it maintained my hope.
Even though I am well past the time I spent with that guy, my motto has stuck with me and I have found that its meaning has changed as my life has moved forward. From its initial purpose of being a promise that I would have those three things again, it morphed into a mantra that was a promise to myself that I would never let myself end up in the same situation again. I would never let someone hurt me or tear me apart the way that he had over the 5+ years of our relationship. I would never get involved with someone who did not respect me and who I was for anything in the world. These three things were the principles I could not live without and I would die before I lost them again.
I have not been seriously involved with anyone since I ended my relationship with that guy over 3 years ago and I think part of the reason for this is that I have really embraced the idea that I will not let anyone cause harm to me. I used to be very open about my feelings. I was the type to wear my heart on my sleeve as the cliché goes. I wouldn’t say that I mistrust others now, but I’m definitely not as free with my whole self as I used to be.
To some extent, this is a good thing. A person should be cautious and not trust everyone they meet. But I think I have taken it beyond what is reasonable and have folded too far within myself. I fear that I seem callous or completely devoid of emotions in some cases—and that’s just not true. I just don’t choose to show it. I know that I have been afraid to express my emotions and that I do not often trust them to others. I do not trust others with my vulnerability. I know this and understand this about myself but have only recently come to the conclusion that this inability to trust myself to others is something that has contributed to my current state of loneliness. And this is not the person I am or want to be.
I have had a lot of time to think in the past couple of weeks about who I am now and where I am going and while I am happy with most of this, there are things that I need to do to continue my journey and to truly complete healing myself. And so, I think it is time for the meaning of my motto to change again. The words are still the same, “Freedom, Spirit and Joy.” But now I want to learn to use these words as encouragement and a reason to share what I have inside with others. Freedom, to be more free with myself. Spirit, to be fully myself. And Joy, to be in the moment and to live it through and through. If I can do these things, I think that I can find happiness and be wholly me again.
Next time, we will return to our regularly-scheduled literary program. 🙂