By Alicia Bunyan-Sampson | @queenjsampson
I’ve been a depressed anxious person for my entire life. I have often been regarded as an overly emotional attention seeker because of my incessant sadness and seemingly awkward behaviour. My constant mood swings, and my complete inability to connect in a “normal” way with other beings are only small pieces of the confusing freak of a person I am. I don’t say this to evoke any sort of pity from anyone. Really, I say this because it is in fact a relatively accurate depiction of me.
Without getting into the nitty gritty details of my identity and the various experiences that molded me into this odd ball of an individual (that’s for another post) I’ll just say for now that, I can be exhausting to be around, and I became aware of that very early in my development as a young woman. Nobody wants to be exhausting to be around. I mean, I think at a very base level we all just want to be loved and share space with other beings, and to know on a pure level that someone somewhere cares whether or not you exist. And from a very young age I could see how I could push people away with my unhappiness and I felt at that time that if I carried on with being myself nobody would really care about me. So I developed a system.
I decided I was going to be a pleaser, and maybe, just maybe, people would learn to enjoy my company, despite myself. With every single person I would meet I would figure out what they needed or what they wanted and I would do everything in my power to make sure they got it and liked me for it. Naturally, the system wasn’t as neatly planned out as I just articulated but you get what I’m saying. Anyway, I became very comfortable in that “pleaser” role because for the first time in my life people became very comfortable being around me, and I was so grateful for that. And, perhaps these were also my beginnings as a Ride Or Die.
I became very comfortable in that “pleaser” role because for the first time in my life people became very comfortable being around me, and I was so grateful for that. And, perhaps these were also my beginnings as a Ride Or Die.
I would give and they would take. And take and take and take. I made myself into a possession – deliberately. I was the ideal friend; the model daughter and the perfect girlfriend. People had to literally do nothing (not even be good people) for me to provide them with all the things they wanted from me or from elsewhere. I was disgustingly accommodating and everyone around me seemed to enjoy my company for that, and I relished in that reality.
Remember my depression and anxiety that I mentioned earlier? Well, none of that had gone away but nobody really knew that. I tucked it all inside myself because I was so committed to being an incredibly talented pleaser so nobody could see how unhappy and strange I was. It wasn’t until I moved out of the province for several months that myself smacked myself in the face with the truth.
I was fucked up.
I had gone through most of my life without actually being a real human being. I had turned myself into a cyborg of sorts. Everything that made me, me including some really shitty traumatic experiences all seemed to roll out all at once because my environment had drastically changed. It was like someone had pitched me into a pool of boiling hot water and I never learned how to swim (and I was burned and stuff…because it’s boiling water). I had no idea how to handle anything. There was so much of myself to deal with and I had never once picked up any tool of love or even consideration for my own well-being. Yet I was immersed in my own identity of trauma and overall mental exhaustion. What was I going to do?
I had no idea if I was being honest. This idea of belonging to myself was foreign to me. To not dedicate my time to making other people happy was a super crazy confusing thing for me. And quite frankly, I wasn’t even sure if I wanted the responsibility of self-love. What a task it was. All the things I had to unlearn and learn about myself and just the thought of it was terrifying to me. Would it even be worth it? What does self-love even mean? What does belonging to yourself look like exactly? Why was I so passionately running from myself?
And quite frankly, I wasn’t even sure if I wanted the responsibility of self-love. What a task it was. All the things I had to unlearn and learn about myself and just the thought of it was terrifying to me. Would it even be worth it? What does self-love even mean? What does belonging to yourself look like exactly? Why was I so passionately running from myself?
I would ask myself these questions over and over as I fake loved myself and stumbled through more shitty experiences under the guise of change and self-discovery. This went on for quite some time. Anyone who tells you that you can learn how to love yourself over-night is a liar.
I had to learn to destroy the only self I had come to know. I had to begin to understand the lessons of life. I had to learn how to die. When I say learn how to die, I don’t mean it as a literal suicidal event but rather a rebirth – a change.
For so long I had been preoccupied with others, which would be okay if I had been preoccupied with myself first. I had never taken that time and I was committed to never doing so but rather offering my mind, body and spirit to whoever was willing to take it. I have come to realize that, for whatever reason, sharing myself with others is just part of my identity and in learning how to die I accept that as a truth in my life. My truth is not everyone else’s truth and I think for a while I thought that in order to really grow that I had to become cold and no longer share and love in the way that I had done for so many years. When in reality, there’s nothing wrong with supporting and giving to other people. It’s really all in the way you do it. We must not cut pieces of our flesh out to give everyone else nourishment. That’s not love, and anyone who takes your flesh from you, doesn’t love you at all.
You probably thinking okay okay now where is the bit where she tells us how she learned how to love herself and how to undo ownership in relationships and everything that I’ve mentioned here. Well, sorry to break to you but I haven’t even figured this shit out. And everyone’s experience is going to be vastly different from mine so It would be a mistake to give some hard and fast tips on how to love more and heal from unhealthy relationships. The key though I think, is in recognizing that you should always come first. Your needs are the most important needs in any given situation. Learn who you are. Honour you are. Take care of yourself. Unlearn and eventually you will find your way to truth.