Giving myself permission

My flight from Seattle to Glasgow, via Philadelphia – August 2018

At my last counseling session, I was given a diagnosis. I expected it, honestly, and it wasn’t a surprise. Depression and anxiety. Not severe enough to warrant medication, but that may be an option if the behavioral therapy I’m slowly putting into place doesn’t work as well as I hope it does.

One thing she stressed was the idea of giving myself permission to do things that make me happy. That’s a hard one, but I’m making small changes to get there.

I was raised to always put others ahead of myself. Saying ‘no’ wasn’t what I was taught. Daring to utter that word meant I was a selfish, horrible person who didn’t care about anyone but myself.

I had to give no matter the personal cost, because setting any sort of boundary or personal goal that was different than what was expected of me meant I was a bitch.

Next Sunday, I’ll turn 54. It’s long past time that I realized that I can make my own decisions without approval from someone else. And that doing that doesn’t mean I’m selfish.

I can eat (or not eat) foods that are best for me, even if someone else doesn’t agree.

I can sleep in, get up early, without being thoughts that I’m ‘lazy’. (waking up for work is something else)

I can decide to be with friends without needing permission.

I can schedule my free time doing things that make me happy and not feel I’m doing wrong by someone else.

I can’t do it all. I shouldn’t be expected to do everything. Instead, I will focus on the things I think need to be done, giving myself the time to do things I enjoy without guilt.

I’ve tried so hard thus far in my life to fulfill the demands others have put on me. The expectations they had of what I should do. How I should care. What they thought made me a person worthy of their praise.

Life isn’t about transactions. It’s not about keeping score. I don’t do things for others simply for the praise they might give me. I don’t give gifts to friends and expect them to reciprocate. I do these things because I know they get pleasure from them. I’m happy seeing them happy. There’s never a string attached, a perception that they now owe me something.

It’s time I started to cut the strings that bind me to expectations set by people who aren’t even alive any more.

I chose the picture for a reason. Several people questioned my decision to go. Some tried to tell me what they wanted to get from my trip. Others tried to dictate the type of trip I should have. One invited herself along, knowing I wouldn’t say no.

I went because I’d waited my entire life for that moment. I went because it’s what I needed to do.

I can’t say COVID is entirely to blame for my issues. I’m an extrovert, who needs people around them. The social distancing the pandemic forced us into certainly exacerbated things. At the end of the day, though, it was just one more thread on a tired, old cloak that I inherited.

It’s time to pull a loose thread, unravel the weave, and give myself permission to shine.

BB/Chan Eil Eagal Orm

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