Make up, Masks & Healing Relationships
One of the most difficult things for me has been learning how to assert healthy boundaries within my family relationships. I have always been more concerned with what others want and need over what is best for me. I have recently recognised a cyclical pattern in my family relationships, involving conflict, not expressing my wants and needs. This has led to a lot of unresolved conflict and ultimately involved me in cutting contact for a period of time. I now recognise my fault in this because I simply didn’t know what else to do!
During the time of silence with my family, I often found myself unhappy, sad and lifeless and I knew it was because of the situation with them, but I knew no other way to handle the situation. I had never been open and honest about the abuse I had suffered, and many times had felt like an outsider in my own family. I would put on a smile, when I was needed and act like all is good with the world (just to make everyone else around me feel comfortable). Underneath the mask, I felt like I wasn’t worthy or good enough, I felt worthless. I hated me and so that made it easy for me to reconcile the way I was feeling and the dysfunctional relationship I had with close family members. I had become a master of avoiding, keeping busy, studying, working and being an “a-holic”.
I thought and believed I was brilliant in putting on the mask to face the world, so that everyone thought I was F.I.N.E! For a while I even fooled myself, but when you are not being honest with yourself and your family it is impossible to feel happy and worthwhile.
The breakthrough came at the most unexpected time. I was at what was arguably one of my lowest points; an olive branch was held out…..I was scared, nervous, tired and overwhelmed. I had given up fighting, no longer believing and trusting in this relationship; however I still had a strong belief that all that was wrong would be made right in time.
The situation had reached a point where we had a choice, to resolve the conflict, or call it quits. The latter scared me, because even though this relationship had always been drowning in conflict, with what I called “quicksand”, with what felt like me being sucked below the surface, being unable to breathe, suffocated by the dark murky waters….it is what I knew, I had lived it all my life, and as dysfunctional as it sounds I was in my comfort zone…It was all very predictable.
In my wildest dreams I never thought it would be possible to build a solid foundation and rebuild this relationship. First we all had to get honest, which was uncomfortable and difficult, because it meant I had to trust, which was so far out of my comfort zone… like a long chain with a lot of links which all intertwined and locked together. Each link’s integrity depended on the strength of the last and the next. For me it was a matter of taking off the mask, lowering the walls and asserting boundaries and trusting that my chain was strong enough to bear the weight that I was about to unload.
To my absolute amazement our chain was strong enough to hold the weight of our bare, naked and honest souls….and it is honesty that is the solid foundation needed to heal any relationship.
Reflection is a powerful tool…..while I was in this situation I felt weak, powerless and vulnerable. In retrospect I can see even when I thought I was at one of my weakest points in this journey I found the strength to take the more uncomfortable path in order to move forward…..cementing another stepping stone along the way……leading to something I have always needed and wanted, feeling of belonging and acceptance, knowing I am not alone.
I am learning to do my life different and by doing different getting different results. As I reflect on the old me versus the new me; the new me wears less make up (when I feel like it), is able to speak openly and honestly expressing my wants and needs to my loved ones and most importantly the new me is learning to assert boundaries, which has brought about positive changes in relationships that mean the world to me.
I know as uncomfortable and foreign as it may feel to each one of us; there are times in our lives that are pivotal points, if we choose to tread the same path we have always walked, the result will be the same. Change invites us to walk the road less travelled, as difficult as it can be…..knowing we are never alone and even at our weakest point every one of us is still strong enough to face whatever the world throws at us.
Remember you are simply creating stepping stones to move forward in your own healing journey.
Empowerment comes from facing our fears, standing strong in what you believe and trusting in what is in your heart. Each stepping stone is a symbol of your inner strength and will to find a sense of peace and balance in life and love….
Until next week…..Big love & hugs…T xoxox