10 year challenge

You can’t scroll through social media today without seeing many people posting a photo of themselves 10 years ago, and one this year. And while I would never judge anyone doing these little ‘challenges’ (I posted one myself which I deleted immediately) I just feel that once again, we are falling into the trap of herd mentality.

Not only that, but falling into a place of opening ourselves up for criticism ‘Oooh you were so much slimmer back in the day!‘ or false praise from people who never usually comment on your posts. Now, don’t get me wrong, I do like a selfie and tend to post them on my IG page (I rarely post a selfie on my own on FB) but I feel like this challenge is focusing on the wrong thing. Appearance.

I looked up an old friends FB and searched her albums to find photos of myself 10 years ago. I deleted my old page nearly 4 years ago and created a new one and by doing so, lost a lot of photos of myself with friends. Which I wasn’t too bothered about, I wasn’t in the best place this time 10 years ago and the friends in the photos aren’t really part of my life anymore.

What I am trying to say is that we should be thinking about how far we’ve come, how much we’ve grown in the last 10 years, rather than how we’ve aged, looks wise. I don’t think I’ve aged particularly badly, a little rounder round the edges but ultimately my mind and self has aged dramatically. And that is no bad thing!

Rewind to 10 years ago. My gosh, when I do it feels a lifetime ago! Mid twenties, two children and planning on leaving a toxic relationship. Plus getting over various traumatic experiences while trying to keep it all together. The weight of the world was on my shoulders. I couldn’t stand the way I was living my life. I was drowning and the worst thing was that no one was aware of it. Because I was too proud to tell anyone what was happening. Why would I give anyone the satisfaction of knowing that my world was falling apart? That I was being bullied every day, gaslighted and smacked about regularly. If anyone knew, they’d laugh. They’d know that it was all my fault, that I was a bad person and deserved it all. No, I struggled alone. I walked out of the house with my two boys and let everyone believe that everything was fine. Not great, I’m not that good of a liar, just fine. I’d get by.

It takes an extremely long time to get over the guilt of ‘allowing‘ bad things to happen to you, and allowing them because you think you deserve it. That worthless feeling never really goes if you’ve suffered at the hands of abusers for many years. Even when the abuse has stopped, you’re left with ‘triggers.’

I have been in an amazing relationship for 3 and a half years now. With someone who supports my goals, knows my dreams and revels in them with me, someone who loves me wholly. And yet, the more I felt loved, I was triggered. Triggered because I believed I was unworthy of his love. Of any love.

I’m using past tense because I’m continuely working on it. I am learning to accept that I am worthy of love.. and it feels good.

My self growth over the last 10 years has been immense. I’ve gone from a toxic relationship, to settling in another one to meeting the person who has helped me shape who I really am. It’s been no easy feat. No one can expect anyone to save them or change them for the better. It has to be done with pure shear will and determination. By yourself. For yourself.

I watched an incredible video posted on social media by Will Smith about his relationship with his wife. This video should be watched by everyone and not be limited to intimate relationships. It stands for all relationships. It is no one else’s responsibility to make you happy. That has to come from within yourself. Yes, it’s hard. Possibly harder than anything you’ll ever do, but try. Go to therapy. It’s something I can’t recommend enough. I stopped my therapy myself, thinking that I knew it all and I no longer needed the help. Wrong.

I went into therapy thinking that the psychologist was going to justify my actions and reactions to events, that he would agree that I had done the right thing at times. Wrong. I cried in every session. Poured out thoughts and feelings and he still taught me to understand that I was reacting in the wrong way. That what I needed to do was re train my thought processes. And he was right.

My psychologist is the reason why I chose to start a psychology course. 

The change in me over 10 years is shocking. I’ve become someone I am proud of, and other than the help of my other half and therapy, I am proud that I’ve done it myself. Oh, I still have my wobbly days! Last night I cried. But I spoke about what was bothering me rather than bottling it up and I felt lighter after spewing it all to Nik. I got cuddles and kisses and a reminder that I am capable. I felt like myself again afterwards.

And once again, I’m ready to get on with everything I have planned for this year.

Stay well, stay healthy and be kind to yourself..

R x

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