Del Kathryn Barton, And the tears were not yet dry in his beautiful eyes, 2012.
“Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does.
2016 for me has been nothing short of massive. The year began with a deep love affair, only to be followed by heartbreak soon after. For respite I momentarily withdrew from the world, and in my ocean of tears I discovered a letter that had been hiding away in a treasure chest in the darkness of the deep sea. This is what it said...
+ The day you realise that you are the only person who is solely responsible for your own life, is the day you set yourself free. Period. Now is the time to become an adult. It's time that you see that all of your relationships with others directly reflect the relationship you have with yourself.
+ You need to understand that no one is going to come and rescue you. There is no knight in shining armour. There is no fairytale romance. Yes, you can have your poems and flowers and all the other sentimental things. But you are not a helpless princess who needs to be whisked away in order to live the life of a Queen you've always dreamed of. Only YOU can create that.
+ You can't keep blaming your issues on your parents or your childhood trauma. YES, we all come out wounded, and yes, you've experienced some big stuff that makes life pretty tough sometimes. But at the end of the day, you're all grown up now and you can choose whether you continue to allow these to hold you back. I'm not saying it's easy, but everyday, you have a choice.
+ Similarly, it's really unhelpful to see your partner, your location, your job, your financial troubles etc, as the source of your unhappiness. You are choosing to be with that person, to live in that place, to work in that job, to make certain financial priorities etc. Again, most decisions are not black and white; life is complex, but you have so much more power than you realise.
+ You can't keep hiding yourself away by playing a side kick role- whether that's in your personal or business relationships- because you're afraid that a) the world might see you, or b) you will make a mistake. (Well, you can, but let's face it, it's doing your head in). Now is the time that you need to actually put this advice into practice: "Pushing through fear is less frightening than living with the bigger underlying fear that comes from a feeling of helplessness," (as Susan Jeffers says in her 5 truths about fear.)
+ And no, all of this doesn't mean that you can't ask your friends and family for help along the way. It's actually imperative to have a healthy support network in your life, and you don't have to go it alone. But what you do need to do is to love yourself so fiercely that no matter what happens or who walks in and out of your life, you always have your own back.
You (in an alternate time/universe)
P.S. I know this may sound "me, me, me", but ironically, once you start doing this you will begin to give to the world in a completely different way because you are no longer drifting around in the desert lands of not-enough-ness.
Some of this I had heard before. Fragments of these sentences occasionally drifted by on the wind, and sometimes I managed to catch bits and pieces to store in my bag for a rainy day. But this time I took these words and I tattooed them onto my inner skin so I wouldn't forget. I knew I needed to embody them in my life, and honestly, this letter was the self-loving kick-up-the-ass I really needed.
Illustration by Harriet Lee-Merrion.
"Don't explain your philosophy. Embody it."
Sure enough, 2016 became a year of significant firsts:
+ I started driving, after 14 years of serious anxiety around getting behind the wheel and consequently being reliant on other people. I still get nervous sometimes, but I do it anyway.
+ I landed my dream community arts job, the one I visioned 7 years ago, that saw me taking on a lot more responsibility in a role than I ever had before. (I later figured out that I'm not the same person I was 7 years ago and my dreams had changed.)
+ I started building my own solo business (and invested in a mentor to hold myself accountable). This is actually the fourth business I have attempted to create, but the previous 3 start-ups were partnerships with my ex-manfriends.
+ I lived by myself for 6 months. I had my very own studio apartment (aka my womyn cave) where I could do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, and I loved it.
+ I began to take my finances more seriously. I decided that my financial life was always going to be chaotic and stressful if I continued to believe that money is a dirty word, so I read this recommended book and downloaded this app.
+ I walked (not fell) into love with a wonderful man- who didn't live anywhere near me- so he said, "sure, I'll come to you; I'd move mountains to get to you" (I relocated myself in my last three relationships.)
I'm not saying I've got it all neatly figured out- I definitely don't- it feels like this is just the beginning. However, in each of these new experiences I learned that more self-responsibility creates more freedom. On the surface that appears to be contradictory, but it's a bit like driving a car- you can't actually steer in the right direction until you're in the driver's seat.
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