If you’re reading this, you’re probably no stranger to the pressure to pretend everything is “okay.”
Especially at this time of year, with lots of us either opting in or roped into family commitments, the heat is often on to present to the world as, you know, “fine.”
After all, nobody wants to be a downer.
Nobody wants to develop a reputation as “bitter.”
Nobody wants to be that person who ruins the Christmas party by being glum or complaining.
So— we get in the habit of presenting to the world not what we really are or what we’re really feeling…but what we think, what we assume, THEY want us to be, THEY want us to fee, THEY want us to express.
This isn’t to say that we’re always miserable, and always hiding it.
It IS to say that we get in the habit of not really “being” ourselves— but playacting what “they” want.
For many of us it’s a form of the “fawn” trauma response— playing along with what we think “they” expect or want, in hopes that in meeting “their” expectations, we might be more or less safe.
Safe from what? Abandonment. Mockery. Shaming.
It all feeds into this belief system we develop that we aren’t enough just as we are.
That there’s something inherently WRONG with us.
That we can be a lot of things to a lot of people— but we certainly can’t be authentic.
After all, to be authentic is to risk— to risk being abandoned, mocked, shamed. Rejected. Hurt.
This isn’t news to a lot of people reading this. A lot of people reading this are VERY familiar with this project of putting up a front all day, every day.
The project of becoming who we think “they” want and expect.
The thing is, there’s only so long we can do that before our self-esteem kind of collapses in on itself.
Self-esteem is built on self-acceptance.
It’s built on NOT denying, disowning, or rejecting who we really are, what we really feel, what we really need.
When we build our entire LIVES on NOT being authentically us— our self-esteem suffers.
We become convinced that our anxiety is right— maybe there really IS something wrong with us.
We become convinced that we can’t possibly be authentic in ANY context, even our most important and intimate relationships— because what would happen if we WERE authentic, if we DID let our real feelings and experiences and needs show…and “they” didn’t like us?
It’d be heartbreaking.
Very often we’re not willing to risk that kind of humiliation or abandonment.
No shame. Everyone reading this knows EXACTLY what I’m talking about. You’re definitely not alone.
In recovery, we begin to rediscover— or maybe just discover for the first time— who we really are.
We start to use our voice— our authentic voice— again…or maybe for the first time.
We start to face up to our fear of abandonment— realizing that if we let that fear run our life, we are actually abandoning ourselves.
Think about that. Denying and disowning who we are because we fear abandonment, IS actually abandonment— it’s US abandoning US.
It’s REAL important we not abandon ourselves.
We are, after all, the most important relationship in our life.
We are with ourselves 24/7/365. We are talking to ourselves all day, every day.
If ANY relationship is worth NOT sacrificing, it’s the relationship with ourselves.
If you’re not okay, you’re not okay. Even if it is the holiday season. Even if you’re “supposed” to be okay.
And you know what? That’s okay. Your not-okayness.
You can make the decision whether or how much of ANY of it you reveal to ANYONE— but it’s real important you BE real with yourself.
Your experiences, needs, and feelings matter.
Okay, not okay, and otherwise.