I talk a lot about what it means to be me. I’ve blogged about modern day feminism, overcoming controlling relationships and leaning to love yourself. It’s taken me a long time to really understand how all the things I believe come together. It’s freedom.
When I think of freedom, I immediately think of Mel Gibson as William Wallace shouting ‘FREEDOM!!!’ right before he’s torn to shreds. Ouch. But freedom is one of those words that means a thousand different things. It means the freedom to choose, the right to vote, the ability to do anything you want… for me, it means the freedom to be myself, without judgement or criticism.
When I was in my last relationship, there were very specific things that used to bother me. The biggest one was the comment ‘that’s so unlike you’. He used to say it to me all the time. I would make a joke, and that joke would be ‘unlike me’. I wanted to put pink in my hair, but that’s ‘unlike me’. I will always remember that fight over the tattoo I want, because it ‘didn’t fit my personality’ according to him. Years of these little fights made it impossible for me to feel good about myself, because I was afraid to make any sort of change. I felt on the inside like I wanted to be something different than what I was on the outside, but I’d been trained to believe that what I felt on the inside ‘wasn’t me’. That was my cage.
Since that relationship ended, things have changed for the better in so many ways. And I realize that I feel… free. It’s a strange feeling for me, which is totally worrying. I realized it because I’ve started taking my own picture, and I’m not afraid to share it. My personal social media pages are suddenly full of things I’ve done, pictures of me doing them, and friends and family. I feel like me now, on the inside and outside, and because of that I’m comfortable with myself. In fact, I even like myself! How many people can say that?!
I have to say that I don’t blame everything on my ex. It’s never one persons fault when things like things happen. I allowed it to get to a place that it did. But I do still see it as a form of abuse. A slow, steady, tormenting abuse of the soul. Even on my worst days now, I feel 100 times better than I did only a year ago. Because I finally understand what freedom means to me.
I started doing research. This is going to sound strange, but I do most of my research on Pinterest. Laugh if you want, but I have nothing but good things to say about Pinterest. What it teaches me is the things I like. The styles, the fashion, the lifestyle, and the person I wish I was. I can see, in a neat collage, that I want to be feminine, elegant, strong, free, adventurous, hard-working and happy. Most of all happy. I can see on the page the things that simply ‘feel’ like me. Pinterest allowed me to collect myself, to figure out the elusive ‘me’ that I’ve struggled so long to know. When I feel lost, I just have to go to my boards and remember all the things I want.
I’m going through a rough time right now at work. I’m about to give my notice at my current job and start a new job. My old job has been a major stress on me for months, and this new job is both exciting and scary. If this had been happening to me a year ago, I would have crumbled. But today, I’m nervously prepared. I’m ready to take on new challenges, because I understand what I’m capable of. I understand what I can and cannot handle. I see strength in myself. I see in my new job the person I want to be, the person that I truly am. Because I’m free, there’s nothing stopping me from achieving.
I was lucky. In the end, the person that was caging me was creating by my ex and myself. Together we put me in this cage. Once he left, that person we’d created crumbled, and alone I was able to break free. Some people are in that cage because of themselves. Because they don’t believe they could ever be anything more. I find that unbearably sad, and I wish I had advice for them. But I can’t stress enough the value of separating yourself from the things that make you feel like you’re trapped. My relationship was trapping me. Money was trapping me, or a lack-there-of. My job was trapping me. Today, nothing is trapping me.