A Life Worth Living

Feeling love within myself is my number one priority in life because when I am in love, everything else falls magically into place.

I am naturally in a feeling of love when I am just being myself. Being true to me.

My biggest challenge in life has been to learn how to just be myself when I’m around others. I am so sensitive and empathic, that anytime I am around another human being, I feel the things they are feeling as if they are my own. There is almost zero distinction between what I feel from others and my own feelings.

The others in my life tend to be strong personalities. Just their presence seems to erase my own feelings and identity. I imagine it must be what a hard drive feels like when a strong magnet comes too close to it. It is a feeling of “losing” myself. It is a form of dying over and over again. It puts me into instinctive fight or flight or freeze because the *I* in me feels this erasing of identity as a threat to my existence.

The only way I knew how to protect myself was to cut myself and my heart off from others. I had to isolate myself for years just to understand who I even was separate from other people. What are MY feelings? What are MY thoughts? Who am I outside of social conditioning and the dysfunction that I grew up with?

I challenged myself several years ago to learn how to stay open hearted and be myself even while around other strong personalities. It feels a bit like trying to stay strong against a series of hellish tsunamis coming straight for you. I felt very ill prepared for it, but the only way I knew I was going to master this was by constantly testing myself by interacting with others on a regular basis. Which means no hiding out in isolation. (Sweet, sweet isolation.)

I’ve had to completely relearn how to live. Start back at square one. In each moment, in each now, I’ve had to check in with myself and consciously choose another way. I’ve had to learn how to catch myself before I move into fight or flight and pause that moment. Talk to myself. Open up and breathe. Relax. Put things back into perspective.

If I couldn’t move myself out of animal instinct mind (aka deer caught in headlights) enough to feel my own feelings, then I trained myself to at least go off of memory of my feelings and how I would most likely respond if I had been able to access them. Fake it until you make it. At least when I do that, I avert an even bigger disaster that I’d have to clean up and fix later. The less disasters I have to go back and clean up, the more time I have to just enjoy life.

The more I have practiced this, the more I have realized that I am simply learning how to stay consciously present with myself. To quit abandoning myself during my time of need. Just like a wounded animal, I didn’t know who was just hurting me more or who was trying to help me, because both are painful to me. I’ve been looking to understand who I can trust to help me because I really hurt, but I can’t show that hurt because in the wild, the weak and vulnerable are taken down by predators.

I cannot know other’s true intents. Too frequently people do not even know themselves. I have rarely run into anyone who does. Which tells me, at least from my perspective and understanding, that nobody really knows what they are doing or what is going on. The worst thing I could do for myself is to make them an authority over me and my life.

This opened up my world to the understanding that I get to work this out for myself. Throw out what I’ve been raised to believe, what I’m told to believe, popular belief, and assumptions. A clean slate. Operation: Just because others tell me this is how it is, doesn’t mean it’s true and it doesn’t mean that I have to continue living in that way.

My goal has been to keep reminding myself of me after every interaction with another human being. Round and round in my head I start repeating, “What are my feelings? What do I personally feel about this?” If I found that what I felt was contrary to something I agreed to do, then I pushed myself to find a way to correct that immediately. Don’t avoid the person or the situation, go back and face it and correct it. Learn what it feels like to stand strong in myself.

I have to stay so vigilant and aware. I have to be so brutally honest with myself and others. I have had to embarrass and humiliate myself I don’t know how many times in my efforts to learn how to try and do something different in the now. It’s like trying to do comedy skits on live TV. When you do something that doesn’t work or you flat out screw up, everyone sees it. There’s nowhere to run and hide. And no matter how embarrassed I am, I must keep showing up for life. I must keep making things right for myself.

All of this hard work is starting to pay off.

I am depended on. I am looked to for assistance, comfort, and guidance. I have many reasons I have to get out of bed everyday. Those things become a source of stress and sorrow and anxiety about being able to continue handling all of those things when I’m living in survival mode.

But when I’m living from this new space of being present with myself and open to life in a very conscious and purposeful way, those same responsibilities become a source of extreme happiness and satisfaction.

My self confidence goes up because I trust more and more that I can handle whatever comes my way. I become less afraid of how others are going to respond or even what they are thinking, because I only need to be clear with what I feel and what I need and a willingness to speak my feelings and my needs. I’ll let others speak for their own feelings and needs. In fact, I insist on it. I want others to feel self-empowered and like it’s okay to be whoever they are when they’re around me.

I need to be a part of other’s lives and I need others in my life. It gives my life meaning. When I’m isolated, cut-off, and trying to avoid people and life in order to not get thrown all over the place emotionally . . . my existence seems trivial. I don’t understand what the meaning or point of life is. It becomes a life centered on sheer survival.

But a life of open-heartedness and healthy relationships with others from all walks of life . . . if I were to disappear tomorrow, people would notice. Do you know how good that feels? I may not like attention, but just knowing that my presence would be missed if I were suddenly to be gone . . . that *means* something to me. It means that I did something right. It means I had some sort of impact on my environment and that things are different in the world because I existed.

If I were to live my life all scared and hiding away focused solely on trying to protect myself from the great big world, then nobody would even remember that I even existed, and that feels incredibly lonely and sad to me. I don’t want to be the center of attention, but I do want to live my life in such a way that the absence of my presence would be noticed.

So I’ll put in all of the hard work of changing myself, and power through my fears, and suffer through the awkwardness and humiliation, because it’s worth it. It makes life worth living.