My psychiatrist keeps asking me the same questions each week, “Who am I?” and “What do I need?” Every week I answer with the same answer of “I don’t know.” I also say “What if I don’t like me?” She assures me that this won’t be the case, it just might be that I need to find a way to be me and my life today to work together. She also asks me what holds me back from asking for what I need.
Those around me would tell you that I am very good at asking for what I want and what I need. I would argue that they are right but that these wants and needs are in fact physical or material not emotional needs.. I think honestly that most of us can do this. It is easy to say I need food, shelter, clothing etc and even in an emotional sense to say that we need unconditional love, support etc.
If I talk about who am I, I would describe myself as a daughter, sister, cousin, wife, sister in law, mother and friend. These are all physical descriptions of what I am to others. They aren’t however, who I am, what makes me tick, the qualities that make me tick. These are the much harder things to answer. Even harder to answer is what do I need? If I don’t know who I am then how can I possibly know what I need.
I know that I need food, shelter, warmth, love, I like nice things around me and I would love a new kitchen, a new wardrobe of clothes and a pair of pretty shoes that I have my eye on. Most of these things of course are wants and not needs and they are all material. Getting to the core of me is much harder.
I think like everyone my emotional needs are to be liked, unconditionally loved and supported and then other attributes like kind, helpful, compassionate, authentic, genuine, honest, passionate, to have a purpose (other than raising my kids that is!), friendship, integrity, generous and wise in my choices and advice. When I write it out like this many of these needs are met to varying degrees.
Unconditional Love – this is a big tick. Seriously I have this in spades from my family, friends, strangers even. Though in my head I have convinced myself, that because I have made BIG mistakes in my life I don’t deserve this unconditional love and support.
Success – this is a strange need because it is really external validation and what I have come to learn more than anything is that I’ll be happy when never comes. How do I measure success, is it when I have a best seller, or is it having 100s of page views on the blog, or is it as a mother raising good and kind humans? All of these are external and all of these I can easily sabotage which means I can fail before I even start. Also, linked to my mistakes I don’t believe that I deserve success either.
I could go through more but what is very clear to me is that I need to learn to give myself a break. Everyone makes mistakes and that is their story. No-one is perfect, not that this is something I want to be but I do need to stop defining myself by what I have done and start looking to define myself by what I will do. I need to learn to show myself the same levels of kindness that I extend to everyone else.
Part of coming to me is also thinking about my hopes and dreams for the future. It is really scary though thinking about re-inventing yourself. I am more than half way through my life and I still feel like I haven’t really grown up and certainly feel like I have been very lost for the last 16yrs. Though those years are not lost years, I just lost me in the midst of being a wife and mother. It is now my time to find me again. My mum is a huge inspiration in this area. She was in her mid 40’s, raised her children and then she wondered what now for me. She re-invented herself, she took on study, she undertook and was awarded a university degree and then more study. Mum went on to have a very successful career in Aged Care. So re-invention is completely possible and can be absolutely amazing, for all of us.
I have some big dreams these include writing books. I have a few in me. I think there is a fiction story about my life, because honestly if I hadn’t lived it I truly think that I would think it was fiction in many places. I have the title of another book that I am going to write about a dear little boy who’s total life was less than an hour but his impact was so much greater than that His Name is Ben will tell the story of his life, the love and incredible friendships that will last a lifetime because of a dear little boy.
The story that I have burning inside my is around Addiction most importantly Women and Addiction. This is something that I think isn’t spoken about enough and also really misunderstood.
In addition to my books I want to work with other women to achieve their dreams. I am honestly quite happy to sit in the background and support, promote, build and empower others. I truly believe that when we support others this also helps us to find ourselves. I have my dreams and I have written them down and putting this out there means that I will have many people holding me accountable to them now. My next step with my big dreams is to break them down to bite size chunks that are manageable and to find the support and mentors that I need to help me with my goals.
I have been afforded many wonderful things and loves throughout my life. However, I am finding that I’ve been to Paradise but I have never been to me.
That all changes now. Time for it to change for you too. If you are not sure what to do or how to start, do what I did a few weeks ago at a Team Women Australia event, write down all your dreams, your perfect life, the life you want, in that perfect place where you have no responsibilities and see what that looks like. From there look at your life now, you may find that they aren’t all that different. Maybe your dreams are vastly different to how your life looks today. That is perfectly ok you don’t need to make it all happen overnight. There is a saying ‘how do you eat an elephant one bite at a time’ so to reach your dreams and re-invent yourself can be a slow and steady process that is perfectly ok. For now I am off to tackle my elephant and work out my next step. In the meantime I will live you with Charlene, I’ve Never Been To Me.