Switching Things Up is Progress
September 11th came and went this year as it always does, along with the memories, the feelings, both repressed and expressed, and the knee jerk reactions. But then again, it wasn’t really the same at all.
In years past, when September 11th came along, I disconnected from social media and crawled deep into my self-imposed cave for 24 hours or more. Apparently, this is the year things were meant to change.
In the first place, it fell on a Wednesday which is a day I usually spend going to the gym and running errands. Sure, I could have moved things around, and probably would have in the past. This year, I didn’t feel it was important enough, so I got out of the house, perhaps a little later than planned, and soldiered on.
Losing Myself in a Crowd
I knew I wasn’t up for the more intimate group of dancers who meet at a friend’s house once a week but instead of slothing it in front of the TV, I got up, got dressed, and went to a larger venue where I figured I’d just blend into the scenery. Wearing uncharacteristic all black, I joined my friends on the dance floor, hiding in the middle, only to be called out by the DJ who’s known me for too long, but didn’t read my “I’m hiding” message in my black shirt and shorts.
The one thing I didn’t do was pretend I was fine. I also stopped saying it was the anniversary of my dad’s “death” in the generic sense. Instead, I said “it’s the 16th anniversary of my dad’s suicide”.
What I didn’t expect was so many have become used to me talking openly about suicide, that it didn’t shock so much as let people know I was feeling vulnerable. No one pushed or tried to be overly solicitous, but it was clear they were all there for me if I needed them. What an amazing and unexpected revelation!
Acknowledging and Releasing Old Pain
Slowly but surely, I’m revisiting and releasing old hurts, letting go of old baggage, and learning a lesson I missed growing up: how to be a friend, and attract my true tribe. Despite events of the last few months which are causing my ever-expanding tribe to gather in smaller pieces at a variety of venues, the emotional and energetic bonds we share are growing stronger. It’s clear to me now, time and circumstances don’t weaken bonds if they’re formed on the right foundation.
It’s become especially apparent as I revisit the rift with my blood family. It may be that “blood is thicker than water” but some blood is diluted by unseen factors. My family showed me unequivocably that they aren’t able to be there for me in times of trauma or strife. It isn’t a reflection on them as human beings. It’s simply the way it is. I’ve learned to not only expect but respect the dynamic—or lack thereof.
I was born into a family, but I see now, I was only there temporarily. It was a brief stopping point while I gathered a few of the tools and a lot of the traumas which would help me become the person I was meant to be. It’s been a long, slow process (I had to get past the desperation to be loved and accepted first), but I can see now it was a necessary step in my soul’s evolution.
Lessons Come in All Shapes and Sizes
Sometimes, I learn what to do and how I deserve to be treated from my various experiences. Other times, I learn what not to do and how I do not deserve to be treated. I’ve had many bosses who’ve shown me the wrong way to run a department or treat employees, just as I’ve had a few who showed me the right way.
Interestingly, it’s from a marketing group I’m in that I’m learning everything in life is about relationships. Even as a writer, I can’t operate in a vacuum. Not only do I get a lot of my topics from interacting with other people, I couldn’t grow my business without clients, and clients are always going to be other people.
Each step I take in dealing with my emotional traumas surrounding my parents’ suicides takes me further into the real issues surrounding my inability to form strong, lasting, functional relationships.
Relationship Building for Love or Money
I’m beginning to see my earliest lessons in relationship building came from my parents and blood family. I learned to hide my true self in what was ultimately a fruitless effort to fit in; to belong. It wasn’t until I endured the ultimate rebuff, and recognized it as such that I realized I was going about belonging in the wrong way. I’ve recently discovered positive indifference is an important factor, not only in whether or not I get a contract, but in establishing relationships too.
That doesn’t mean I go into social situations, guns a-blazing, acting like a jerk. Instead, it means spending time watching the interactions, observing the social protocol, and assessing how it makes me feel.
If it’s an environment where I feel comfortable engaging as my true self, I’ll probably stick around. If I feel like I have to stuff myself into an uncomfortable configuration, I’ll likely say a polite goodbye and move on. I don’t need to belong somewhere enough to pretend to be someone I’m not.
The Epiphany of Authenticity
Learning there were people and places which would accept me as I am, and not expect me to be something I’m not shocked the hell out of me. It turned a lifetime of failed relationships upside down. It never occurred to me I was going about it wrong, trying to make people like me by being what I thought they expected. Instead of gaining the acceptance I craved, I came off needy, desperate, phony, and unapproachable.
People typically want to interact with others who are at least somewhat open and honest. Desperation is typically a turnoff, except perhaps to those who thrive on using other people. Thus, opening up, not only about my parents’ suicides, but about my own broken parts has catapulted me into both social and business environments which, at last accept me for who I am, and actually appreciate that crazy, messy person for her honesty.
Still Sharing Selectively But for the Right Reasons
It doesn’t mean I “bleed” all over everyone. I’m still selective about what and with whom I share, aside from my writing. I’ve recently discovered I can share more here because it’s still safe. I’m not subject to acceptance or rejection. I don’t feel someone’s distaste or disgust. If they don’t like what I’ve written, they typically won’t read any more, and that’s perfectly fine with me. I’m probably not writing for them anyway.
Those who come back; who read my posts regularly, and often tell me so are the ones I write for. They want to see the parts of me I’m still working on fixing; the imperfect parts I’ve come to accept and even appreciate; the successes when I overcome past traumas and conditioning. Why? Because they’ve been through their own share of crap. They deserve applause for their successes too. Most of all, they deserve to keep the messy, gooey parts they want to keep. And so do you!
Happy to Be Grateful
My gratitudes today are:
- I’m grateful for friends who “get” me, and who love me because of my imperfections.
- I’m grateful for the small bits of progress. Put them all together, and I’ve come a lot farther than I realized.
- I’m grateful for my current work environment. I work without the need to please anyone but myself and my chosen clients, without distraction other than my own monkey mind, and with the co-workers who suit me best; my furry family.
- I’m grateful for the support I’m getting as I learn to be more myself and less a facade.
- I’m grateful for abundance; love, friendship, support, laughter, dancing, kitty love, perspective, ambition, guidance, peace, harmony, balance, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.
Love and Light
About the Author
Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and an advocate for cats and mental health. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward