I have always been built for comfort, not for speed.
“Slow and steady wins the race” has always been my brain and body’s mantra.
I do learn, but I learn slowly. I don’t make leaps in knowledge, connecting the dots and skipping steps. I plod.
My default is kindness, not wanting to hurt people’s feelings, giving others the benefit of the doubt.
I like talking to strangers. Hearing the perspective of others, learning about their lives.
And I’ve always seen these things as Not Good Enough. Less Than. That I learn “too slowly” my lips are “too big” my size and shape “wrong.” That being friendly in public was “embarrassing.”
We all know that children can be merciless–if you’re taller, shorter, wider, skinnier, your lips, your skin, your hair are different, you will be teased.
Add to that messages received in the home: me to my mother in my early 20s, “Patti was always the pretty one–” Patti was my big sister, thin and fine-boned, blue eyes and blond-brown to my hazel eyes and dark hair and constant struggle with weight.
“Yes,” my mother agreed.
Sure, I was thin there for a few days after I had pneumonia in high school, or the time my mother had diet pills prescribed for me and I didn’t sleep for days, but I have curves. I have always had curves, I always will.
Add messages from marriage–that no matter what I did, what I tried, there’d come a minimum of an hour and a half angry speech about how unsupportive, unloving, uncaring etc. etc. I was. This was like acid on my soul, the soul of a nurturer, since supportive, loving, and caring were the very things I believed myself to be.
So many messages telling me I wasn’t Enough. And trying to be Enough didn’t work.
Recently I turned 69 years old, something that to me feels like an amazing feat! For years it was a struggle to get up in the morning, to face another day of being Less Than, Inadequate, Not Enough.
Starting each day with the foregone conclusion that I would be a failure was not good for my state of mind.
But these years since I ran away from a marriage that felt increasingly out of control, I’ve been healing–slowly and steadily.
I’ve been learning, not by leaps and bounds, but ploddingly.
I’ve been accepting the very who-I-am of me–with curves, with hazel eyes instead of blue.
But I’m learning too where kindness needs its boundaries, where I need to be the one to keep my soul and my heart safe from those who want to bring me down for whatever need of theirs to be critical or cruel.
I told a friend that this was the first birthday since I left my marriage that I felt truly free. That it was mine to celebrate however I wanted. Free to laugh loudly in public, free to talk to as many strangers as I wanted without being told I was an embarrassment by a friend or spouse.
I’m finally coming back to the person I was created to be, the person who veered far off my path as I tried to please others for decades. That was my bad.
There’s great freedom in being who you were created to be. In that space we can find Peace. Home. Safety. We can find our best selves.
Enlist the aid of a licensed therapist. Growing out of trauma take help. It takes practice. It takes guidance, and being asked the right questions.
The change doesn’t happen overnight–it’s a process. But it’s finally bringing me back to me.