i used to wonder why i kept feeling like none of my friends or family really knew me. people would make statements like ‘ oh, she wouldn’t like that’ when actually i would have loved that. it was baffling. they would buy gifts that gave me reason to speculate whether the gift was bought for me or just dragged from the back of some cupboard and wrapped in a flurry of guilt at having forgotten my birthday. i constantly wondered if these people actually knew me and the truth is, they didn’t.
when i got fed up and evaluated my relationships, i realised that the fault lay squarely at my door. somewhere along the line i’d become a chameleon, behaving in whatever manner i thought was called for by the company i was in. with older family members i was the dutiful obedient daughter, when actually i’m argumentative and mistrustful of authority. so, i hated when the extended family came to see my mother when she fell ill, because it meant acting like something i really was not. with friends from church i was a devout believer, with the language and mannerism and statements that they expected. no one knew that my faith was actually being battered; you can imagine the shock!horror! when i eventually stopped going to church. i was so many things in so many settings that i started to feel overwhelmed by it all, like i didn’t even know myself. and i didn’t really know myself.
when i had a near-breakdown because of all these roles i was playing, i took a step back and disconnected from all the people in my life. i took a long hard look at the people i called my friends and thought about what made me their friend. were the relationships making me happy? were they adding value to my life? was i using people? were they using me? what made some people’s phonecalls so draining, why did i routinely ignore other people’s calls? why was i excited by some meetings and depressed by others? who did i want to see regularly, and who did i want to cut out of my life completely?
it was a painful process, but one i had to do to preserve my sanity. it wasn’t like pulling out a tooth; it was not quick and easy, but it had to be done.
i reset boundaries for my relationships because i wanted to be true to myself, so i could get more value out of those relationships that i wanted to nurture. i wanted to start living a life of integrity and passion, and i could not do that encumbered by draining relationships, and without really knowing what it is that nurtures my soul.
i’m still on that journey, and each day it gets easier as i grow into my skin. every time i make a conscious decision to listen to my conscience and actively seek out and affirm those who enrich my life, the next time becomes easier.
are you living a life of integrity? do you like yourself and the life you have built for yourself? do you know the real you? do the people around you know the real you?