Like most people, my life has been messy and thus far has not gone as I hoped or intended. I muddle along, as we all do. There was a younger version of me who was alive with plans, hopes, dreams and the will to try and make them real. I’ve had varying degrees of success.
I’ve been through things that broke me down and damaged me. I’ve lost parts of myself to those experiences. I’ve knowingly cut bits off myself and tried to be smaller on numerous occasions, in the hopes of being safer, or being left alone at least. There have been people in my life who hurt me by accident because they too were lost and scared and flailing. That’s always forgivable, even if I don’t always choose to stay around for more of it. There have been people who did the best they could, but where that wasn’t actually much or enough, and that’s forgivable too. We all have people like that, and sooner or later we are also people like that.
I’ve had a few years now where the best I could give in any aspect of my life wasn’t really enough. It’s been hard all round. I am hugely grateful for the time and space to recover from what’s afflicted me, and the opportunities I am given to try and do better.
What’s done me the most damage were the individuals who set out deliberately to harm me. I recognise that I’m not good at holding boundaries, but I’m also not into victim blaming. I have a lot of anxiety around not being good or useful enough and that’s an easy thing to exploit, which in no way excuses the people who saw those weak points and exploited them.
I have learned some lessons. I’m getting better at not appeasing people, and not being instantly persuaded that I am wrong and everything is my fault. I have some considered responses to conflict now. For the people I am really close to, I will get in and try to explain and work things through no matter what we’ve run into. If I commit, I commit hard. For most people, I’ll try and go at least a few rounds sorting things out if there is difficulty. I’ll check for miscommunication, I’ll try to understand their perspective better and so forth. If I can make headway, I’ll stay in. Decline to meet me half way with that, and I’m gone.
There are now a lot of things I don’t give people second chances over unless they genuinely matter to me. I just move away. I don’t want the drama or stress of people who want to fight and don’t want to listen. I do not stay if I’m just going to be a punchbag or scapegoat.
Alongside this I’m increasingly aware of having been given some amazing second chances recently. These aren’t second chances with other people, although I would not have got to this point on my own. This week I wrote a story that felt like the kind of thing I was writing in my early twenties. It gave me back a part of myself and I feel more whole and functional for that experience. I’m also becoming able to reclaim other parts of my previous self, especially how I used to think and feel.
I feel like I’m getting a second chance to be myself. I can’t unknow what I’ve experienced, and I remain affected by what’s happened in the last twenty years or so, but I feel like I’m back on the trajectory I had as a much younger person. I can carry all of what’s happened, and reclaim my whole self, and carry on from here as the version of myself I wanted to be, back before pain and shame taught me to think that person was not ok.
That person was ok. I am ok. I am not someone who deserves to be knocked down and humiliated. I’ve got to a place where I can get on with doing what I’m called to do and being the person I am.