Being Your Own Champion
Hello my loves!
Lately I have been making more sense of my life and pulling together what I need to do to heal from the inside out.
From the time I was a small child I would speak out on behalf of others and speak up for those who needed someone to “defend them.” But somehow, like many people, I rarely spoke up for myself. Or if I did, I would cut off all contact or get so upset I would yell or melt down by the time I could voice my own needs.
In elementary school nearing junior high my teacher, Mrs. H gave everyone a “last day of school gift” to say goodbye to each of us and to let us know what she thought was most significant about us. My gift was of a popsicle stick with a sign on it that said, “UNFAIR!” Mrs H. included a note reminding me that I spoke out for injustice, for children who needed a voice, I often played devil’s advocate or stopped to see the other side of the picture if someone refused. Though I was athletic and picked first in gym class and had a great deal of self-confidence (or at least I appeared so, much of it was bravado), I used that momentum to standup for others. I was, what counselors call “a mouthpiece.” She wrote to me, “You are always standing up for others Melissa, for the little guy, for the person who needs you. I will always remember this as your best quality.”
For the first time she helped me see this quality as something other than a sucker or someone who got taken advantage of easily. She turned my compassion into a positive quality and I turned it into a career. Over time, I had to learn about boundaries and about how to set limits on who and when I would stick up for because not everyone is worthy of our time. Some people also need to learn to stick up for themselves and we serve them best by cheering for them and observing with them rather than “stealing their opportunities.” These are all lessons I have learned over time. I have learned them both by doing and because I have had people do it for me. I enjoy when people are my champion because people think I am so strong. When someone finally takes up my cause, I feel so humbled and relieved and grateful. I realized there was a sweet spot in giving and receiving kindness and being a champion.
I finally have come to a place in my life (and met people who could accept it from me) where I could give my truth. I am asking for my own joy and for my own needs to be met. This is so much more difficult for me. It has taken me years. Perhaps it is because as a woman with illness I have often felt so weak or betrayed by my own body, or that my own needs take precedence I have denied myself in other ways. (And yes, I have been angry – at my body, and at life, and sometimes at those around me who did not understand or who abandoned or hurt me or did not stand up for ME).
Or, perhaps sometimes I have lacked loving myself as a very subtle form of self-harm. I never saw it this way until I had a friend very recently tell me, “I don’t like to get compliments and I hate when people are nice to me. I’d rather just be nice to others.” It felt so unbalanced when our relationship lacked reciprocity. I always felt like my friend was hurting himself because he never felt lovable or likable or worth kindness. And I realized, if this is so, then perhaps it is true for me as well. Just because I take my medications on time or see my doctors, doesn’t mean I lovingly care for myself or am gentle with myself. In fact, I am often my harshest critic, and don’t say nice things to myself at all. I call myself names and seek perfection where there is none. It doesn’t mean I am gracious in accepting compliments. And I only barely receive kindness and gifts and often feel like I should immediately reciprocate so the other person knows I love them too. This is not receiving well. So I sat with that and realized how much I need to heal. And in this way, I need to stand up for myself and say that I am worth it. I am worth loving and worth allowing good things to happen in my life. We all are!
This is new concept for me. And as usual, ideas come first, and then the actions. And so I have started looking at my friendships differently and realizing I didn’t hear their love and generosity as well as I could have. And I am taking the time to be kinder to myself now, and enjoy the people and things I enjoy. That means working towards goals that are important to me as well BECAUSE I deserve them.
What do you think? How have you experienced self-love and self-harm in the past? How have you healed it? I would love to know your experiences! Do you accept compliments well? Do you like being kind to others more than you like others being generous to you? Have you considered why? When you start to shift internally how does it make you feel? Please tell me! I must know!
I will see you same time next week! Kiss kiss!