Tuesday, November 14, 2006

happy as a pea in a pod

In the Spring of 2005, I found myself in a room of about twenty people sitting in a circle*: We were to take turns introducing ourselves, and then tell a little bit about the supports we had in our lives. Everyone else talked about friends, family, a boyfriend or girlfriend here or there. When my turn came, all I could say was my boyfriend, and I wasn't even sure that he was a support. I knew something was wrong with this picture.

It's not that I didn't have friends and family. I think I just didn't use them the way I was supposed to. I had a lot of acquaintances and a few close friends, but I found myself keeping people at arm's length. And my family was just that--my family. It was rare for me to call my mom or sister just to chat.

I had this boyfriend who just sucked the life out of me. One person refuses to bend and the other ends up breaking. I avoided commiting to new friendships because I didn't want to risk not being there when my schmuck of a boyfriend finally came home. My self-esteem was nonexistent and I rarely pushed myself to believe that I could change my life. The relationship didn't affirm who I was as a person, didn't support me or encourage me--it held me to who I'd been when I was seventeen. It wasn't working for me anymore, but I was too scared to do anything about it.

It's amazing to me how much my life has changed in the last year. I have so many wonderful people around me whom I've let into my life. Not just acquaintances, not just people I know, not even people who consider me a friend but really treat me more like a personal therapist. I've got so many people who truly do care about and respect me for who I am.

I'm closer to the people who were always there, and I've reached out to others with whom I felt a common bond. I've cut the people who were unhealthy for me out. A natural disaster taught me not to take my family for granted, and I now see my mom and sister as friends and allies, not adversaries. I even chat with my dad from time to time, something I never would have predicted. (It turns out we're just a little different, and he's not so bad after all.) I've found myself in a new relationship with somebody who actually listens to me; someone who loves and appreciates me for who I am, not who he wants me to be. I'm surrounded by love and support and respect. It's a very affirming environment.

I promise I will never let my own happiness go for a boy ever again. I feel so much better about life now, and I don't want to ever go back to where I was. I believe in myself, and I know that I control my own destiny. Things can only get better from here.

"Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be." ~Abraham Lincoln

*No, I was not in group therapy, this was a training session to volunteer on the crisis hotline.


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