When We Leave Ourselves //
At some point in your life, you’ve probably been abandoned or rejected by someone: a parent, friend, employer, colleage. But have you ever reflected on the times in which you’ve done the abandoning? In which you’ve abandoned yourself?
It’s probably happened. I know it’s happened to me. At some point or another, you chose the boyfriend, girlfriend, friend, employer, opportunity, over honoring yourself.
And for the people pleasers, this is the stuff that delivers the satisfaction, the short term relief. It scratches that itch.
Whatever they’re asking me to do, whoever they’re insinuating I should be, I’m going to be that person. Because I’m scared shitless of losing them, and more than that, I’m horrified by the idea of change that incurs upon loss.
When someone is asking you to do something that you’re not jiving with in that moment, what happens inside of you? When you get to the fork in that road, what happens for you in your body, in your gut, in your heart? Does your stomach drop a little? Do you feel resistance of any kind? Tension rising in your chest? A knot forming in your throat?
I used to hang around relationships that no longer served me. I had a hard time letting go. I would notice an uncomfortable feeling in my body and mind when I was around those friends or intimate partners. We had a comfort together, an immediate love, but we eventually outgrew each other.
They stopped bringing me sincere joy, or growth, or connection (and maybe some of them never really did, in retrospect). We had very little in common when it came to matters that were most important to me; or our mutual interests changed, leaving us bumping into each other vacuously. And in my gut, I knew this. With some, I knew this from the moment I met them. With others, I knew this later in the relationship.
And yet, for years I tried to make those relationships work. When my body would speak to me – a heaviness in my chest, a craving for retreat, to get away – I would squelch those signals, and I would ignore my intuition.
In those moments, I chose to make them comfortable. And, in order to endure my time with them, I would smoke tremendous amounts of pot, and drink heavily. There weren’t enough drinks (well, there were, it turns out) to make me feel at ease in those relationships. I consumed everything I could, and manufactured reasons to stay in it.
I did everything in my power for a very long time to make those relationships not end.
Why? Because I was afraid of rejecting their love for me. Of saying ‘No thanks’ in the face of their emotional and resource generosity.
I felt obligated. I just wanted to please.
And in so doing, I abandoned myself. I ignored what my body and mind were telling me.
Because I was afraid there wouldn’t be anything to replace the void that would inevitably open up when that friendship ended.
I didn’t believe in abundance back then, and I didn’t trust myself.
Those relationships serve as an example of how, when shit arose in my body at the fork in the road, I thought my way out of it.
I intellectualized the situation. Rationalized the “right” thing to do, or who I “should” be. I created a story of intention, finessed all these words in my head until my rationalization overpowered my bodily sensations. And then once I made my decision, based on motives of pleasing them, of avoiding feeling the pain of rejecting someone, I then used copious amounts of mind altering substances to get through it. To endure. To make it all work.
Until I couldn’t feel that knot in my throat, or the heavy ball in my heart space. Until my manufactured story was too loud. And until I had lost a portion of myself, enabling me to be half-there.
I loved being half there. And they hated it. They knew I was checked out, unavailable.
Because, you see, you’re not fooling anyone when you abandon yourself, and when you try to please someone or stay in the relationship that’s not serving you or them. All you’re doing is just grasping and holding on for dear life as the shell of someone who you’re not. They know your authentic self isn’t present, isn’t there with them. So the relationship that’s left is inauthentic, a shell in and of itself.
The defining characteristic of that shell of a relationship is not love, but fear. Fear of rejecting someone else, fear of feeling pain or witnessing someone else’s pain. Fear of honesty, and fear of the truth.
That moment: the one where your story becomes extremely loud, where words in your mind overpower the signals arising in your body. THAT’S the moment in which you’ve practiced abandoning yourself.
But it doesn’t stop there. The story in your mind becomes the guiding force by which you choose to move your ship, take the next action. That’s the moment when you solidify abandonment, when you ignore your intuition and ignore what your being is communicating to you.
We ignore ourselves.
And then we stay too long: in relationships, wrong careers, uncomfortable situations, addiction. We stay too long.
With any new experience, circumstance, relationship, job opportunity, life direction that approaches us, we have a gut reaction immediately.
There’s always an initial thought. Do you listen to it? Do you bury it? What’s your inclination to that gut reaction?
I not only ignored and buried the gut reactions I’ve had over the years, but I also ultimately didn’t trust them.
I didn’t trust them because I didn’t trust myself. I thought that my initial reaction was the bad reaction, the one I had to rework because I was an untrustworthy person, or because I didn’t know what was best for me.
And, I didn’t nurture or honor those gut reactions because I was afraid of the responsibility and next indicated action they implied. Sometimes those gut reactions tell us to get out of that relationship. It’s not working for you anymore. Or they tell us that while that job for which you’re interviewing sounds great on paper, it’s just not lighting up your soul. And that’s scary; even paralyzing.
Showing up for yourself, rather than abandoning yourself, then requires two things: boldly facing and responding to the truth that presents itself to you; and, trusting yourself.
May we listen in, bravely. May we show up for ourselves, daily. May we stop abandoning ourselves. May we honor ourselves by gracefully facing our lives, and letting go of what no longer serves us.
There’s vibrant abundance waiting for us on the other side of those esteemable acts.