I never used to be real in relationships. That was because I believed, at a some gut level, that if I was really nice all the time, people would love and respect me. I never asked the question “and what about me?” Didn’t know I was allowed to. I had never heard of the words entitlement and self esteem. Every time I fell in love I lost myself. Of course!
The thing is, I didn’t realize any of it. I was just trying to live my life in the best way I knew how. The guys I got into relationships with took me for granted and did whatever they wanted to, and people in general often didn’t notice me, and they didn’t take me seriously. One day I caught my reflection in a shop window. I didn’t recognize myself.
I thought, “no wonder people don’t see me. I’m not being real”. I was being nice. I never expressed my emotions and feelings, never spoke out about what I wanted. That day was the start of me changing.
I’ve been very easily controllable, dismissable and abusable because I’ve always repressed my emotions and feelings and kept my mouth shut when I was even just discounted. It hurt like crazy much and made me so angry, but I just couldn’t speak out. I always seemed to be with partners who threatened to punish me if I did. Most of the time it was pretty subtle, but that didn’t make it less scary.
I couldn’t just suddenly speak out after years of never doing it. It took me about ten years to be able to change, but letting it out in private was a really good start. I felt safe and free from threat. I didn’t hurt anybody, and it gave me a sense of a power I never realized I had.
It’s quite an astonishing thing to experience yourself being the lioness instead of the timid mouse that was too scared to even run away. Letting my anger out was at first the only way I got to feel that I had any power at all, that I could make any choices for me. Experiencing myself in my rage and learning to let it out in this way made me realize I had an inner strength I’d never known. It took me by surprise.
It also connected me to my innermost being, the part of me that hadn’t been overshadowed and bullied, that still actually had a really strong voice, and was just waiting for me to learn how to use it. I found myself eventually. I’d been in prison all my life, forced to over-adapt as a child, then doing it as an adult because I didn’t know there was a different way to do me.
Now I know. Not just in my head, but in my entire being.
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