Working on my tan


As most of you know, 2017 was not my year. Or maybe it was, depending on your perspective. I am alive to see the beginning of 2018… I survived 2017… so I guess that counts for something.

It is only because of a stellar group of support people – my champions, as I have previously referred to them, and an absolutely brilliant treating team, that I am able to sit here and reflect. That I am able to sit here and write. That I am able, at all.

My experience and treatment has impacted hugely on my worldview. It has re-defined what I consider important, and what I don’t. It has helped me begin to discover my own self-worth… the idea that my feelings matter. That I matter. The idea that it is ok, and even more than that, necessary, to put me first.

I have spent the majority of my adult life making decisions based on how I think they will impact other people. I have tried to predict the outcome for others, or how they will view me, and adjusted my behaviour accordingly. For anyone considering this style of engagement, I would strongly recommend you reconsider. You can’t, and never will, get it right. You can’t control how people respond. You can’t please everybody. And no matter how hard you try, the waves will be made, the boat will rock, and you will end up with some kind of Titanic situation on your hands. The ship is underwater, and you are still trying to bale water out of the hull with a sieve. You will fail, every time… and before long, you will believe whole heartedly that, not only did you fail, but that you are the fail.

Oh, and just in case you were at all unsure… you are the Jack in this scenario.

Every time.

For some absurd reason… you offer up every life raft to someone else, and Rose still hasn’t developed enough spatial awareness to realise you would also fit on that floating door.

Don’t worry… I am a ‘Jack’ too.

I don’t set clear boundaries… or, in fact, any boundaries. I allow people to treat me however they would like – whether that be kindly, or otherwise. And if it is the ‘otherwise’, I justify that treatment – ‘they were just emotional… they don’t realise how much that meant to me… they will feel even worse if I say something…’

I take the hits, excuse them, and invite more, without even realising I am doing it. And this was, and is, my flaw. People may have done things that have upset me… but it is me who has effectively said, ‘that’s ok’.

My psychologist has told me on more than one occasion that I say ‘sorry’ too much. It is only now, after months and months of treatment, that I think I may agree. The other day, I actually apologised to my husband, for apologising. I think when you start getting double barrelled apologising action, it’s time to start listening to the people you are paying to help you reset your thinking patterns.

So for the first time, in… well… ever, I did it. I made a series of decisions that valued me. I decided that I did have boundaries. I decided my happiness did matter, and it was OK to voice how I was feeling.

Of course, it was never going to be an overly popular move. I have always engaged in the world around me in the most submissive way I can. I have allowed, condoned, and accepted everything, from everyone. And now, all of a sudden… I have said no.

I have said how I feel.

I have listened to, and valued my emotions.

My behaviour has been dictated by my own wellbeing, rather than everyone else’s.

And it felt… empowering.

In the lead up to this delightful revelation, and indeed, revolution, I was terrified. Terrified of upsetting someone. Terrified of letting someone down. Terrified of the impact on my relationship with my family, my friends, my clients… the list goes on. Interestingly, that impact, in the majority of cases, has not been negative, which has been a pleasant, and extremely unexpected surprise.

It has influenced how I work, how I plan my day, how I spend my time… it is amazing what can change in your life when you realise you matter.

Having said that, I don’t even know if I have realised it yet… my concept of self, of my worth, of my ability to value add to anyone, or anything… is very, very, limited. If it exists at all.

But there is something about meeting up with someone every week (even if you are paying them!), who reinforces repeatedly, that you matter.

Not that you matter more.

Just that you matter.

I might not be fully convinced just yet… but I am proud of the progress I have made. And somehow, I feel more confident. I feel like I have upgraded from Gradual Summer Glow, to Bondi Sands – even I am starting to think that I am one bronzed babe.

I matter. And you do too.

At least that is what I, and my psychologist, are going to keep telling myself.

Fake it till you make it, as they say.

Except with tanning… fake away. Because realistically, ‘making it’ means that you end up all brown, and leathery, and wrinkled. Like a brown elephant bum. And I don’t know about you, but for me, being an elephant bum is the opposite of ‘making it’ #slipslopslap