Love ME, Not the Unicorn
Love ME, Not the Unicorn
I recently found out where the disconnection lies between me and someone close to me. It lies in the place of fantasy, the place where lilies are gilded, stories are dramatic and everything is the best, the most, the smartest and funniest. In other words, I learned that the idea of fabulous me is easier to love than real me and I’m working my way through how I feel about that.
Before I go off on a tangent or there’s even a hint of “Woe is me!” I want to state up front that what I’m trying to discuss is just how important self knowledge and self acceptance are. I’d like to give a shout out to those who are a little shaky on their “I’m defining myself, not living your definition of me” legs – and in turn, get some perspective for myself.
Something that was hard for me to do for many years was to define who I was without drawing from what I thought other people wanted me to be. Did I keep the same values as some people, or behave in a manner consistent with what others expected from me? Was I a good daughter, friend, neighbor if I didn’t take into account what those people wanted me to be like? Was I a monster if I thought about myself first, accepted a compliment without arguing, didn’t consider everyone else’s feelings ahead of mine?
It got a little easier after I stopped drinking and started participating in regular counseling. If anything, getting out of rehab gave me the golden ticket to say, “Hey! What I’ve been doing hasn’t been working so I need to find some new guidelines.” The problem is, I was afraid to make that statement too loud or too definite, to set up any real boundaries at all with those who emotionally manipulated me. Why? Because I was afraid I’d lose love. I was afraid, terrified and annoyed that by stating that I was no longer an extension of someone else’s fantasy of what Lizabeth is, that I would be given the cold shoulder and made to pay emotional penance.
The worst part is, I bought into the idea that I would deserve that abandonment. I believed that if I didn’t allow people to make up who I am and if I didn’t try to live up to that fiction, that I would disappoint someone and it would forever change our relationship. I was weak to the bully, fearing I would make them sad or mad if I corrected them voraciously, corrected everything until I was understood as me, with no super powers.
Recently there was an occasion where I had to handle these fears, face to face. It was unpleasant, confusing, hurt filled and I’m not proud of my conduct. I probably did change this relationship but what I’ve realized is that it had to change anyway. I was in a three way relationship and one of us was a mythical character, a unicorn of sorts. What was being “loved” was me with a layer of B.S. slathered on top – with the implication that real me is not good enough to love as I was or as I am.
I don’t know if I killed the unicorn or not, not really even sure if I care, but I do know that I came to the realization that all this time, what was being loved wasn’t me it was the idea of me. Me, as someone other than who I am. Not me with needs and flaws and who in certain circumstances SHOULD think of myself first, and who WILL have different values and who is compelled to voice my own truths. I deserve to be loved for being Lizabeth the person, not Lizabeth the character.
I don’t need to be who others make believe I am to have self compassion because I like me. I approve of me. Also, I let me have some slack when I screw up, such as yelling and losing my cool. I am enough. Enough without having to exaggerate to be so.
I may not have found the place of peace yet, where self acceptance and self compassion make everything else fall away; I still sting from the ugly encounter and feel bad for my behavior, but I’ve gained a new ally. Adult, fully formed, relatively confident me.