When I was young and younger I knew that if there was anything I wanted, I had to get/do it, no one else would. And so I conquered - I worked hard, poked and prodded and tormented and nagged; I was driven to the extent I became stubborn, bull-headed, so independent I think I scared and pushed people away. I needed no one.
In fact, my mother says my first sentence was, "I do it myself."
And so it's been, for most of my life. And to some extent that's been good. There really was no one I could trust; I had no one in my life to confide in, to "need." In fact, it came to the point in my life that I thought "needing" was a weakness. I needed no one, and in doing so, I closed the door on relationships - the kind where people give and reciprocate, where interpersonal communication was possible. If I wanted something, needed something - I did it myself, from relationships to jobs to "seek and ye shall find."
Being alone takes strength. It takes someone really strong and scared to believe they don't need anyone. And what a foolish foolish thought.
Of course there were times when I broke down, opened that door just a crack, just enough to test what was on the other side, but of course, I quickly closed the door, never, really, even allowing myself to see what was on the other side. And never ever allowing anyone in.
And I became friends with like-minded people. We needed no one, reveled in our independence. When actually we were just a bunch of people who wanted to be wanted, not needed - tired as can be of those needy people who saw us as strong, caring, and able to do anything for anyone, particularly "them."
Until one day, just a few years ago, out of the blue, I had no desire to shut the door. I was tired of me. Tired of doing life all by myself. I gradually opened that unsafe door, the door I believed was terrible, evil, worldly, selfish, needy, decided to be vulnerable for a moment, and on the other side I saw beauty. A world where vulnerability was actually safe, where I wouldn't be slammed for my independence, my "git 'er dun" attitude. Where I was accepted for my graciousness, for my openness, for my energy. And I found safety and want - when I was brave enough to see.
What a difference a few thousand miles and a few weeks makes - don't ever ever believe time and distance do not heal. They healed - or taught me now to heal.
A patient the other day, who was so fearful of change herself, of accepting her now, of seeing the life she was leading was hurting her, reminded me of how my life has changed - from being safe to being vulnerable (not that I don't have walls and boundaries and baggage), in safety. I've thought about where I am now, and how I got to this beautiful intense confusing colorful place.
And it was all because I was tired. Taking care of myself, being my own savior, is exhausting. Choosing to live in a place where I could not reach out, because I did not want to seem weak or risk "falling," took so much work.
And the past twenty-five years have been filled with bad and good and lessons I never ever signed up for. The work to stay behind my door was so much more intense than even the work it has taken these past five years to get healthy. Walking away from the old me toward the new me has been very very tough.
And here I am. And some days I do life by myself, and some days I invite others into my space, and some days I am brave enough to step out of my door into the world. And now, now I have a choice.