Trying to Find My Voice

Ihave felt very alone in this process that I am going through.  When you’ve been someone who has religiously subscribed to all of the more typical or normative Life Rules-get a job, support yourself, eat well, listen to your parents, get married, have babies-and then you suddenly break wide and clear from these rules, it’s difficult to predict how your friends and family will react, and how they will each support you, if they decide to support you at all.

I’ve always been a pretty by-the-books person, and have lived the majority of my life by Shoulds.  I should go to university, I should get a job.  I should buy a house.  I should settle down with someone.  I should have children.   It’s what you’re supposed to do, right?  Obviously some of those Shoulds don’t necessarily apply to my own life, but I have certainly felt the sometimes overwhelming pressure society places on me-both as a woman, and as a living human-on how I should be living my life.

When I made the decision to stop working and focus on my recovery and healing, it was the first time in my life where I have, with full force gone against the Shoulds.  While it is a decision that sometimes still scares me some two months in, I know still, in my heart of hearts that it was the right decision for me.

I don’t truly know what my friends and family have thought of my making this decision.  I’m starting to rely less on and be less concerned with what others think of me, but I would be lying if I said I had completely done away with that insecurity, as it is one that has been traveling with me for all of my life.

While I don’t necessarily know how others feel, and I certainly can’t control how they have reacted, I have noticed some changes in dynamics in some relationships-some of my reference point relationships-and these changes hurt, on an emotional level, even though I can make sense of them, intellectually and logically.

One of the more significant changes I have noticed has been with my relationship with my Mom and Dad. As I have mentioned in previous posts, the last nearly 3 years have been especially rough on my parents’ health. Both my Mom and Dad are themselves recovering slowly, which is great news and something that I am very thankful for. With my own stumble now over these last several months, and admission that I am not in a healthy mental state, I think my parents have struggled to separate themselves and what they have gone through and its impact on me. It’s been a rough almost 3 years for certain, but witnessing my parents having gone through what they have was only a small contributing factor to my being where I am now. I think though, for both my Mom and my Dad they feel in large part very responsible. As such, they have moved away from me. The phone-calls and emails have lessened. The visits are more infrequent. I can only speak from my own perspective, but I suspect they believe space and time on my own is what I need right now. It isn’t though. Not really. Not from them.

My parents and I have never been great at communicating our wants and needs. I’ve reached out in small attempts now over the last 2 months to try to help them understand that I don’t want or need space from them, but as I am still working on finding my own voice and my ability to communicate my wants, I know my efforts haven’t been my best.

I have been struggling too with my relationship with my brother and sister in law. While my brother and I have never had a really close relationship-we are 8 years apart-my sister in law and I have enjoyed some periods of closeness and friendship. This is a relationship where I really struggle with the concept of letting-go, and setting up healthy boundaries.

I’m not someone who holds grudges as such, but as a result of my people-pleasing tendencies, I often experience incredible hurt and pain when I know I have either let someone down, or when someone criticizes me. It’s not so much that the criticism hurts, as it is that the criticism cuts me down quite a few pegs, even if I know the criticism or words aren’t necessarily coming from a place of truth, or maybe have anything really to do with me. The criticism often ends up fuelling my own insecurities, and I can be left feeling pretty devastated.

Relationships-with anyone-are challenging and I think when you are someone who has focused much of your own existence on pleasing others at the expense of silencing your own voice, they can be very challenging when you finally begin to find your voice.

I think this is where I feel most alone at present.

I’ve had some great friends who regularly check-in with me, which I appreciate deeply.  Ian often doubles as my external brain and helps guide me and see things from perspectives I hadn’t thought to look from.

It is my reference-point relationships with my family where there is uncertainty.  Even as I write this, I can’t help but fall back on the refrain that they should be there for me.  Love me.  Support me.  All unconditionally.

Ian often reminds me though, that my decisions now over these last several months-while positive-have de-stablilized those relationships, and while I am trying to find my way back into them, it is likely that my family is too.

With Love,

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Olivia Shaw

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