What I have noticed recently is that the way I am in one relationship has a direct impact on how I am in all my other relationships. This shows me the responsibility I have to not hold back in any relationships and to be open with everyone I meet. I have spent so many years putting on a façade that I am OK, so it is a big change to be more transparent about what is really going on for me.
For me a huge barrier in deepening my relationships has been my propensity to play the ‘nice’ card. This is my default position in any situation and means that for so long I have suppressed any feelings of hurt, frustration and rage in order to not “rock the boat.” The wall of protection I have erected means that the other person cannot see my vulnerability and then I am left with the intense pain of feeling isolated and that nobody understands me. Once I put myself in the position of being a victim of circumstances it is an easy step to feeling powerless rather than choosing to take responsibility for working through my issues, and letting go of waiting to be rescued by others.
Dismantling the persona that I have displayed to the world has been an ongoing process, which has been accelerated recently with my renewed commitment to becoming more honest in my relationships. I have also started to take deeper care of my body, which is such an amazing and sometimes painful reflection of where I am at. In the past so many of my actions were disregarding of my body, e.g. being rough in my movements and expecting it to cope with whatever I decided to do, often without enough rest and eating foods that I know do not agree with me.
Earlier this year I had a cyst on my breast that erupted like a boil and was intensely painful. It was also an incredible reminder of how much I have not taken care of myself as a woman and have held back from expressing in so many situations for fear of being rejected. With the guidance and support of my doctor, I have taken several courses of antibiotics, had repeated scans and discussions with specialist consultants, and the lump is settling somewhat. I am now deciding whether to have the remaining lump removed.
As well as being supported by the medical profession, I am nurturing myself as a woman. I have obtained a beautiful essential oil blend from a friend that I am lovingly applying twice a day. The difference already is clear to see and I feel much more accepting of what my body is showing me. The daily changes in how the lump is provides a marker of how I have been in my day – how connected I have been to myself and how much I have cared for myself, in whatever I am doing.
In this process I have had the support of lots of different people who have been amazing, and I have been open to accepting it all and not feeling that I have to do it ‘on my own.’ This has been a massive shift for me. I know that this cyst happened for a reason and I have embraced the learning that is being offered.
When I sat down to write, I intended to write about a particular relationship and how this is supporting me to be more open with others, but what I am now feeling is that the most important relationship I have is the one with myself. It is only when I can truly become intimate with myself and willingly share this with others that all my other relationships have the opportunity to expand.
For me, being intimate has included appreciating and celebrating that I am a woman, and that I have an innate beauty – a beauty that I have struggled to accept in the past. This has been a very gradual process, which has involved being willing to really listen to and appreciate what other people were saying to me, and letting go of all the negative tapes in my head that told me I was not enough.
Committing to exchanging texts with a friend each day – nominating different aspects that we appreciate about ourselves – has supported me to confirm my growing awareness of what I have to offer to myself and others. The deepening and equalness I feel within this relationship is something that I now take into my other relationships, which increases my connection with them.
Recognising that my foundational relationship is the one that I have with myself, and that it is my responsibility to commit to exposing anything that compromises this, as well as truly accept and appreciate myself, is an ongoing journey. In the process, I am falling in love with myself, and it feels awesome.
By Helen Elliott, Ipswich UK