UnBecoming MeJun 24, 2022
In my past life, not all that long ago, I spent a lot of time and energy trying to be what & who everyone needed me to be.
Trying to always be the perfect daughter, the perfect sister, friend, wife, & mother. It was so tiring.
I was really good at shifting into whoever someone needed me to be and ignoring myself to please other. For a good chunk of my life, I dismissed myself, my own feelings, and my own wants. Which lead me to feeling very BLAH in my late 30’s. I felt stuck, confused and disappointed in myself for it all.
One night, a little over 5 years ago, I was sitting on the leather sectional in our living room, with my husband on the opposite side. We were relaxing after a long day, watching TV in our nicely furnished, 4-bedroom, 2.5 bath home in the suburbs of Detroit. Our two young girls were happily playing a game together; the dog asleep on a blanket on the floor.
Everything looked perfect on the outside. Only, It didn’t feel that way on the inside.
It was at that very moment, I realized that I had lost so many parts of myself. I had lost touch with my own authenticity. Somewhere in the journey of growing up, becoming a woman, a wife, a mother, I lost Sara.
I didn’t truly love myself the way I could have, because I didn’t know how to. I didn’t know who I really was. I had all these titles, and knew what I was “supposed” to be doing, so I just went through those motions. I couldn’t really answer the basic question of “What do you want to do today?” My answer was always the generic, “I’m good with whatever you want.” It was totally unconsciously and on auto-pilot to avoid an argument, or even worse… being shut down completely. I said it because I didn’t know really know what I wanted to do and certainly wouldn’t feel comfortable sharing it. Deep deep down, I felt small and unimportant. And I blamed myself for it all. I didn’t know what I really enjoyed, what I needed, or what I wanted. All I knew was that I didn’t have it. Whatever “it” was.
Finally, after spending some time reflecting with this new self-awareness, I realized exactly how I landed here at 37 years old. And I knew I had some work to do.
As someone who had been overweight growing up, I had learned that if I was really nice, if I was funny, if I made others happy, then wouldn’t make fun of me for being “fat”. I could constantly self-abandon in order to protect myself. And that my friends… is how my cycle of people pleasing began. It worked – I was rarely teased once I learned how to make everyone like me or at least make them laugh. But it was engrained as a way of life. The “people pleaser” was also my role home.
“Be good. Do what was asked of you. Feel good (because your hard feelings are a lot for me to handle.) Meet my expectations of you, and I’ll love you unconditionally.”
So I did that.
Listen, my parents did a phenomenal job raising me. They did the best they could and had honest, loving intentions. But they weren’t perfect. My mom and dad did a lot of their own personal development work as adults. They did significantly better with me and my sister than their parents did with them, and I’m so thankful for that. We have the best relationship today. No one is perfect and it’s unfair to expect that from anyone. Parents are people too ya know!! I’m sure I’m giving Maddy and Emma all sorts of junk that they will have to work through as they get older. But I too.. know that I'm doing the best I can.
Because of the coping mechanisms I developed at a young age (which again, did keep me feeling “safe”, loved and wanted) I believed that it was truly my job was to make and keep everyone happy. Know what this is folks? Codependency. Gross.
It was my turn to work through all my junk as an adult. I knew I had to make changes because I didn’t want to go on feeling stuck and empty. That wasn't enough for me. I had to heal it all. I had to figure out who I really was and not apologize for it. I had to stop giving F’s about things that didn’t matter to me, and start giving F’s about things that did, myself included.
I had to UnBecome all of the things I thought I was, so that I could become who I authentically am.
So just like that, I started. It seemed insurmountable at the time, but so did living out the rest of my life not loving myself nearly enough. I had to put myself first. I believed everything else would fall in line.
First step was to lose weight. And I did - Fifty-five pounds to be exact. All it took was a some deeper mindful observation to realize that my weight fluctuated based on how I was feeling about myself. I decided this was going to be the last time I went through the self-destructive cycle. I came to feel comfortable in my skin for the first time in god knows how long. I wasn’t losing weight to make other people happy. I did it for me. While sure, I got compliments on my appearance, it didn’t make that much of a difference to people around me. The fire had been lit.
I started speaking up. Softly at first, then louder and louder. Kindly, but sometimes I needed to be a little tougher with my words. People weren’t used to this side of me, the side of Sara who had more of an opinion. I had to figure out a way to let people know that I was serious. I learned to set boundaries.
Then—and unfortunately—I ended my marriage. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done, but I had to. For me, for him, and for our kids. I knew what I I wanted our life to look post-divorce and set out to make that a reality. Today, my kids’ dad is one of my best friends and he always will be. We make badass co-parents and I’m so incredibly proud of us.
After working on this new path for the past 5 years, I can finally see myself clear as day today. I am able to put my attention in places and on relationships that are important to me. I stopped being so wrapped up in making everyone else happy. But more importantly, I stopped being so wrapped up in what everyone else thought of me.
I stopped giving so many f*cks away. I started saving them for myself! And now, I focus on making ME happy. And everything else has fallen in line
Caution! Side effects of UnBecoming
>> I love myself much more and I take care of myself in so many different ways. I am so much more present with my kids. I can now teach them how to be true to and not abandon themselves.
>> I believe I’m a better mom - I am more present with the girls and I am teaching them how to be true to and not abandon themselves.
>> I know exactly what I want, need, and deserve in life. I am comfortable communicating it all.
>> I found hobbies I like. (Whoa! Who knew?) I have talents and gifts I didn’t know existed!
>> Fear doesn’t stop me from doing anything.
>> I simply cannot self-abandon anymore. It is almost impossible to betray myself in order to make someone else happy or comfortable. WOO HOO!
>> I started dreaming again. And I’m following those dreams.
I. Started. Dreaming again. I never realized that I had stopped, until I started again. Sigh.
This is where I am now. Dreaming. Creating. Living. Feeling fulfilled. Loving. Meeting my own needs. Comfortable asking others to as well. One of the best parts, is that I can still show up for others. I can show up and help, make them laugh, make them happy, but in a more authentic to me, powerful way that I never could have in the past.
I’m still a work in progress, and honestly, I always will be. I don’t want to stop growing or learning; I don want to stop doing better or showing up bigger in my life.
Now, I’m not saying everyone needs to go get divorced and drop a bunch of weight in order to be happy. What I am saying is that we all need to listen to ourselves. Pay attention to that little voice deep down that knows us, knows what we want, and what we need. We all have a little Unbecoming to do.
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