I wrote a post last month about an old set of armor. The subject line probably sounds familiar if you read that one. Thank you if it did. Thank you for taking your precious time to read my words.
That armor is being retired, though. Recycled is maybe a better word. I don’t want to forget where I came from or lose appreciation for how far I’ve come.
This time of year always makes me feel guilty. I’ve spent the last 11 years feeling like a terrible daughter, because society as a whole thinks that I should still let toxic family members be a part of my life. It makes me feel like a bad daughter, a bad older sister, a bad younger sister, a bad aunt. In some ways I am. In many ways I’m not, though, and I’ve been punishing myself for getting away from my abuse for 11 years. That guilt and fear are my old armor, and I’m ready to be done with it.
I’m not 100% over it. There are things I’m still afraid of. There are still people I’m afraid of. But damn, I am so tired of carrying around those fears like shackles. I am so done using them as a crutch and a shield to deny myself happiness.
Like. Wow. Wow, this is such a good feeling. I’m sitting here crying alone at the keyboard, but I’m crying because this feels so good. I have never felt this good about myself in my life. I caught a glimpse of it when I was 21 and realized that I didn’t need to keep my abusers in my life. But this is feeling? Of letting myself be happy?
I wish you all felt this. I know many of you do, but I know that some of you don’t, and only you can do that. I hope you get there some day. Because honestly, I wouldn’t feel this way without any of you. If you’re reading this, you’ve shown me what an actual family feels like. You make me feel safe, like if those people tried to hurt me that I wouldn’t have to be afraid. Like I don’t have to be so damn stubbornly independent, like it’s okay to ask for help. Like I don’t have to rely on my own strength for everything, like I can be vulnerable. You make me feel valued, and like I’m not a waste of space, like I have a voice that matters.
It’s so freeing to know that I’m allowed to like myself, and love myself, and be happy despite mistakes I’ve made. I can’t change those things, but I can learn and do better. I’m allowed to admit I’m a good person, and I deserve to have amazing people in my life, and I deserve love, and I deserve to feel pretty. Maybe one day I’ll feel beautiful. I’m getting there.
In the meantime, I’m going to keep taking care of myself, and treat myself right, and expect other people to treat me well too. I’m going to take care of my nearest and dearest, because I can, and because other people took care of me when I felt like I was at my worst, and because my purpose on this earth is to love and support people even if I accomplish nothing else. I’m allowed to rely on other people when I need it, because I don’t get to choose what other people are willing to do, or what they feel, or what they want to give and share with me. I don’t get to choose how much they like me or love me, and I don’t get to tell them they shouldn’t spend their time on me.
I’m tired of being the person who used her sad story as a reason to settle for things. I’m tired of being a girl who almost settled for a guy once because he was handsome and paid attention to her, but was only nice when he was sober. Thankfully I was strong enough to cut that out early. Apparently he turned out to be the sort of guy who hit his baby’s mom, and I’ve already been someone’s punching bag, and my whole family were alcoholics. I’ve already decided never again. I deserve someone who is going to lift me up instead of push me down. I’m allowed to let my friends help me with things. I’m allowed to start growing some roots instead of being ready to run.
Maybe one day I won’t feel like I need to hide behind a pseudonym online, and I’ll stop being afraid of being found because I have amazing people around me who will be there even if I’m afraid. There are still things I’m working on, like student debt, and getting healthy, but those aren’t a reason to cling to the mistakes of a scared 21 year old girl. It feels so good to put my trust in my friends and the Universe.
I’m ready to treat my apartment like a home and not a pit stop. Everything I have is either easy to pack or easy to part with. Even when I lived with other people, I felt like I was just a second-rate person. I’d like a real home. My small community makes me feel more secure every day. Thank you for these happy tears.