Life is long and complicated. There is how it is ‘supposed’ to go… you know, what we’ve learned from the puppet masters of our world and our friends pimping capitalism on Madison Ave and grabbing attention in Silicon Valley. Pressures to perform to rise to shine to prosper and to progress. While these are the stories I’ve told myself, life rarely moves in a straight line up, up and away to perfection.
Maybe for some, that is their story. For me there have always been stops and starts, bumps and bruises, victories, and lessons learned. Hopefully, the end goal will be happiness for myself and healthy, fulfilling interactions and relationships with those around me. There are few things I want in my life. One of those elusive items is to be in a loving, happy relationship, but I am learning that to truly love others and get what I want, I have to spend the time helping myself.
When you are someone like me, approval is important. It feels like it has always been important. Maybe a little too important, but it is understandable why one would desire to make people happy. It’s not a bad disposition, but it can be destructive. Sometimes, you see someone you care about. Someone that could use some help, and it is easy to lose yourself and focus on helping them.
Falling into a pattern where a person subverts their own needs isn’t always being selfless. Actually, it can lead to very destructive and selfish behavior. This type of thinking can be a slippery slope if you become dependent on approval as a function of your self-worth and identity. Our identity is about more than our relationships, and there are times when to help yourself grow you have to focus on your needs. That is the only way to grow into more a better person, partner, father…
I know I need to focus on my own mental, emotional and physical health to make sure I can be the man I want to be and create the life I want. For me, focusing on myself can be scary. I don’t always like what I see. It is easy for me to ignore my internal struggles or issues facing our society and seek comfort in others. This is a losing proposition in the long term, and it has taken me too long to understand the truth.
Neglecting myself has helped to create a situation where now there are questions about my future. In life, there is no guarantee of another chance. Isn’t this the ultimate irony? When you are broken like me, your initial knee-jerk reaction is to circle the wagons, but there is no going backwards in life. Learn from your lessons and understand that a life, just like a day, is best judged after twilight.
If only part of the foundation is solid, then the future holds limited potential. If you are only working on half of your structure, you can only go so high. If you take the time when needed to understand your past and strengthen your foundation, then, you can truly set yourself up for potential heights, happiness and your definition of success in the long term.
This isn’t a new idea. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told me this, but I am always too scared too lazy too entitled to listen, too dumb to understand or too broken to take the actions needed. I am afraid if anyone sees how much work I need, I would never find the approval, which I hold so dear.
Now, in some ways I have been exposed, and I’ve lost. I go to sleep every night thinking of my future. I have plans and dreams. I am hopeful that this latest chapter won’t be my last.
Everyone loves a Hollywood ending. I have always said I was willing to do anything to make her happy, and until recently I thought that was the truth. Now I understand, there has been one thing I have been afraid to do. Help myself. That process starts with the understanding I don’t have the answers and at the root of it all I am the problem and the solution.
In my mind, I am writing the perfect Y’allywood ending. No spoilers here, but with the end in mind, I have to start with myself.