Sometimes we all need a reminder.
“Be the kind of person your dog thinks you are.”
“When you judge another, you do not define them. You define yourself.”
From our childhood playgrounds to parent-teacher conferences as adults, we’ve all been there. We learn of an opinion or judgment about us that is not only unkind, it’s just plain wrong.
As kids, discovering that negative falsehoods are being said about us can be utterly devastating. None of us want to be the outcast. All we want is to be invited to the party; to feel like we belong. Luckily, we grow into our own skin and learn who we are. Our longing [to fit in] is less about personal validation and more of a barometer for attracting like-minded people.
Being a former cocaine-snorting-nude-dancer-party-girl, I’ve been labeled Hooker, Junkie, Ho, Slut – the list is typical. Even before my nine-year career on the pole, I was on the hurtful end of verbal daggers. The skin disease on my face inspired the high school nick-name Freddy Kruger. By the time I was in my 20’s, I learned to roll with the naysayer vibe (no matter how annoying).
So what about now? How do we, as adults handle it when dark clouds of negative people overshadow our light? I’ve recently come face-to-face with this question thanks to a grown woman using valuable cell phone minutes to slander my name.
The immediate questions are obvious: Who’s hearing this bullshit? and Do they believe any of it?
After percolating the situation and realizing the why of it all, I released my questions into the universe. The 20-something in me had a little talk with the middle-aged broad tapping away on these keys today – and we both agreed upon a course of action. I’m going to do absolutely nothing.
When it comes to negative (not to mention false) gossip about us, we need to remember: the people who know us won’t believe it, and the people who believe it don’t know us. Either way, it’s out of our control. Besides, everybody has a right to their opinion. The question we need to ask is – do we allow others’ opinions or judgments about us to influence how we feel about ourselves? We already know the answer.
Life is fleeting. It’s a beautiful struggle. There are enough land minds to survive without anyone’s assistance. Don’t make space for unnecessary bullshit. If you need a mantra to remember that, feel free to use mine: *What other people think of me is none of my business. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
*Quotes written by Wayne Dyer
When raised with cracked foundations of chaos, it’s easy for us to understand how as adults we feed off drama. Up is down and right is left. We know better, but it doesn’t stop us from running with the proverbial scissors that cut up personal happiness and responsibility, leaving a trail of regret.
For so many of us, chaos is fuel. It’s our oxygen when the poor choices we make ignite anxiety within the walls of fear. We cannot breathe until the risk of losing our breath is born from our own doing. Anything else is boring.
Although each slice is hidden deep inside our psyche, emotional cutting – hurting ourselves to feel – is just as damaging as the physical act itself.*
“Self-harm is a way of expressing and dealing with deep distress and emotional pain. As counterintuitive as it may sound to those on the outside, hurting yourself makes you feel better – Cutting and Self-Harm (www.helpguide.org)
Life is not a straight line for any of us. For adult children of dysfunction, it’s a barbed wire maze of self-sabotage that draws blood with every turn. And the puncture wounds make us feel alive.
It’s hard to understand unless you’re in it. Even more difficult to rationalize when we’re the ones orchestrating our own pain. It’s cool when our loved ones support us, but we know they don’t really get why we continue to be the architect of our own demise. Neither do we.
So how do we turn off the auto-pilot road to self-destruction? For starters, it’s a good idea to get real. I’m not talking about saying the words people want to hear. This is about digging deep. Shred the years of layered bullshit you’ve been telling yourself and speak from deep inside your truth. It’s not fun; it can actually be scary. But everything boils down to the ugly truth: we cannot make it through the painful maze without actually going through it. Feel the pain. Weep. Wail. Then scream into the air (or a pillow, so your neighbors don’t call the cops). Just get it the fuck out.
Since I can remember I’ve been living some version of the truth, which is a colorful way of saying lie. What began as floating in a sea of self-medication [insert your vice here], quickly morphed into believing the bullshit I was telling myself.
I can handle it.
They are the ones with the problem.
I know what I’m doing.
I don’t need anyone.
I’m not lonely.
Living a lie is exhausting. Yet so many of us do it because we’re afraid of facing the shit that caused us to take comfort in our bullshit in the first place.
One of my best friends jokes about how we’re so much alike – and should be wrapped in caution tape. And I’m not kidding when I say ‘I’m such a work in progress I should wear orange cones for earrings‘. Humor is nothing if not effective when it comes to getting real.
But get real, we must. Whether it’s telling a friend, teacher, boss, relative or therapist – we need to share our truth.
The healing begins when we stop pretending.
The first person you need to share your dark truth with is the most important person in your world – you. You’re no good to anyone if you’re no good to yourself. It’s time to stop buying your lies, and start getting real. We are worth it. If you don’t believe this, it’s because believing we have no value is the biggest lie of all. Take back your truth. It all starts with the decision to try.
*I am not an expert in mental health. This blog is a platform to express my own opinions and beliefs based on personal experience. If you or anyone you know is suffering, please reach out to a professional and seek help. You are worth it – even if you don’t feel it right now.