When I was a little girl, around 7 or 8 years old, I began to establish my own identity. I remember wanting to have more say in the clothes I wore, the way my hair was done, how I spent my time, etc. My dad didn’t seem very happy about this and it caused many conflicts in our relationship over the years. I remember him buying me clothes that I didn’t like and when I said I didn’t care for them, he told me I was ungrateful. I remember wanting to have my hair cut a certain way and he wouldn’t let me. I remember asking for specific shoes and him telling me I was selfish and it was stupid to spend money on something so dumb.
I also remember over the years hearing that I didn’t try hard enough in school, I was too fat, too slow, too needy, too picky…and the list goes on. I remember him telling me once that I was only kidding myself if I thought I had any friends because no one could possibly like me.
There were a lot of negative messages and probably a few positive ones as well – I just don’t remember those. As a result, I grew up believing a lot of negative things about myself. I have made many poor choices because of what I believed about myself. I’ve been in bad relationships, spent money poorly, at times only cared about myself, and at times only cared about others. He was my father and was supposed to love me so it stood to reason that if he would say such hurtful things, they must be true.
I’m 41 years old now and many of those old beliefs are still around which stinks. I keep wondering when they will not be needed any more…when will I be able to let them go? Will I ever be able to let them go?
This past weekend at a retreat I listened to someone share about things they experienced with their father. They never felt good enough either. I knew what that was like. I still don’t feel good enough. I still feel like no matter what I achieve, it isn’t enough. But this weekend, something shifted.
I realized I have been trying to keep up with the Jones’. I realized more than ever before that what people think of me is important. I realized that I have made an attempt to take the focus off of who I am inside because “it’s just not enough”. I never thought it was important to keep up with the Jones’ but also recognized not too long ago that I often think that’s what others are doing SOOOO for me to be aware of others…I guess I just wasn’t being honest with myself about how important it actually has been to me.
The Jones’…who are they anyway? For me, they are my father. The little girl inside of me is still trying to win his approval through the approval of others. I want to believe deep down at my core that I am good. I am valued. I am enough. It’s time to stop this cycle. What my father thinks is not important. What other’s think is not important. At 41, I no longer want to seek that acceptance from anyone but myself. That is the only acceptance that counts.
What matters is who I am inside not what car I drive. I don’t want to be remembered in life for anything I had, only for what I’ve done for others and for myself. I want to be a good mom and a good wife…a good friend and a good teacher. I want to make choices that support me creating a great life for myself and for those around me. So I for one am telling the Jones’ to move on. They are no longer welcome in my neighborhood. As Sunny would say, “Your opinion of me is none of my business.” Here’s to taking my life back and being the person I want to be.
Who are the Jones’ for you?