“I decided long ago never to walk in anyone’s shadows. If I fail, if I succeed, at least I’ll live as I believe. No matter what they take from me, they can’t take away my dignity, because the greatest love of all is happening to me. I found the greatest love of all inside of me. The greatest love of all is easy to achieve. Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all.” –The Greatest Love of All (Whitney Houston)
“I want him to be himself – to have the happiest life he can.” my client said, referring to her husband. What did she really want? She wanted him to go out and do things he enjoys with his buddies – so that she wouldn’t feel guilty about getting together with her friends once a week. She wanted the freedom to be herself and to live her happiest life. I noticed that she wanted for him what she wanted for herself (but wasn’t doing). It sounded eerily familiar to me. I had experienced this in my own marriage over 10 years ago.
It was 2002. My husband and I had just moved to a new province, and I wanted to go out exploring – taking in all that the ‘big city’ we now lived near had to offer. I met a bunch of amazing, fun people through work and was really excited about developing new friendships. Connection with other people is very important to me, and I like being outgoing/social. My ex was content (most of the time) with staying in and watching tv. I started staying in with him – wanting to spend time together and wanting him to be happy. I think I had the belief that “a good wife takes care of the people they love”.
“It’s that wonderful old-fashioned idea that others come first and you come second. This was the whole ethic by which I was brought up. Others matter more than you do, so ‘don’t fuss, dear; get on with it’.” ~Aubrey Hepburn~
Evidently, I wasn’t included in the list of people I loved for a period of time. I’m not really sure how that happened. Somewhere along the way I guess I stopped asking who I was, what I wanted and what made me happy. I was unhappy with my marriage. I was unhappy in my job. I was unhappy with how I looked. I felt completely uninspired. I had even stopped doing simple things that I loved, like reading. I was existing and not truly living. I’m not saying that I didn’t enjoy anything about my life during that time, but I certainly hadn’t been living life to its fullest. Was my ex to blame? Not at all! He was just being himself, and he had no idea I felt this way. There was nothing he could have done to “fix” things; that was my responsibility. The truth was that I had been unhappy with me. I didn’t love myself because I wasn’t being true to myself; I wasn’t living the life that was inside me.
How did I change the way I viewed myself? It’s been a long process! One of the first things I did (which helped immensely) was start doing yoga. Through that practice, I began opening up about how I felt – becoming aware of what I truly desired, without feeling guilty. I stop blaming myself (and my ex). I began to question my painful thoughts. I stopped doing things for others that I didn’t want to do. My mindset shifted from pessimistic to optimistic. I started remembering my worth, and living life as me. Essentially, I made my own happiness a priority. #notlookingback
“Be the person you will be happy to live with for the duration of your life. Don’t rely on your significant other, or anyone else, for your happiness and self-worth. Know that our first and last love is always self-love, and that if you can’t love and respect yourself, no one else will be able to either.” ~Mechor Lim~