I’ve been a people pleaser all my life.  It sounds like a lovely thing to be, but the inherent desire to please others is nothing at all to do with being a good person. It’s closely aligned with low self esteem, a desire to be what others want you to be, to mould yourself into something others find acceptable.  It’s to always assume that for others to like you, you need to be something other than yourself. It’s internalised messaging working against your best interests in every single way.  It is measuring your worth, your success, your intelligence and your abilities against the nebulous opinions of others.

And I’ve spent the best part of 44 years doing that. I can never recall a time in my life where I didn’t think I had to be more than what I was to be truly loveable.

Which is fucking tragic when you think about it.

At the very least (which is actually everything) I have a husband and two daughters who think the sun shines out of my considerable backside.  I also have a wonderful tribe of people across the globe who like, and love me, in all my glorious imperfection.

Just as I like, and love them, in all their glorious imperfections.

Yet, when you have a brain bleed, in fact a stroke of any kind, it leaves scarring in your brain. That scarring impacts different things depending on where it’s located, but the brain is a wily little bugger and it creates new pathways as best it can to get everything going again as close to ‘before’ as it can.

I feel very much like as my brain was forging new pathways, it got to that people pleasing bit, went “WTAF ALISON????” and promptly marched straight past it. 

In the last few months I’ve been setting boundaries like I’ve been doing it all my life. I don’t have to change who I am to be accepted. I don’t have to put in the effort to stay connected to those that want to be connected to me. There is literally no compulsion in me to put myself on fire to keep other people warm.

Source: Bridget Jones’ Diary

I’ve been owning my experience, my knowledge, my space. I have even said ‘no’ to things I don’t want to do or be involved in. I’m surrounding myself with the people who want me to succeed and who believe in me, the same way I believe in them.

I have been wary of this ‘new’ me. It has felt out of character, perhaps not to be trusted, how does it fit along the high functioning depression I live with. Is it to be believed?  I’ve poked it and prodded it. I took it to my psych to talk about it and she said that it was the most positive act of self love she’d seen from me in the 9 years we’ve been talking. 

“Self love?” I queried. “Am I not just being selfish?”

And the answer is no. Self love is regard and well-being for yourself.  Selfish is having no consideration for other people. I have, as always, lots of consideration for other people – it’s just for the first time since forever, that consideration is not coming at the expense of my own emotional well-being and that of those I hold most dear.

I remain imperfect. I have been thinking of this period of growth as a version of the Japanese art of Kintsugi – the art of precious scars. Where the bits of me that have broken are not something to be hidden away. That in fact, in the healing of the scars, the filling in of the broken bits has left me stronger, and more beautiful in many ways.

I’m loveable.

Who knew eh? Who fucking knew? #slowlearner

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