Why would me parents do that? Why would my boyfriend say that? How can my best friend do that? Why would my boss treat someone like this? How can someone say and do these hurtful things? All of these unanswered questions I carried around with me. I must admit, having these questions in the back of my mind was one of the heaviest and most destructive things I could have held onto.
It wasn't until I stumbled upon a quote from one of my favourite authors that a light bulb clicked inside of me. Paulo Coelho wrote "How people treat other people is a direct reflection of how they feel about themselves". The impact of this quote didn't hit me straight away but after digesting this information and giving it some thought, everything that had ever happened all of a sudden made so much sense.
When I was 14, I was kicked out of home. For years, I always wondered what was wrong with me. I wondered why I was "unlovable". My family didn't want me, so why would anyone else? I then found myself in a situation of sexual abuse. I won't get into the details but let's just say after that incident, I always felt I wasn't good enough. No one wanted me, people hurt me, I felt worthless. This led to me finding myself in a string of abusive relationships. Some physical, some emotional and some were a bit of both.
For years I thought having these types of experiences were a reflection of me and my own self worth. I didn't believe I deserved better because the only people that said they loved me only hurt me. I didn't know any better and as crazy as it sounds, I thought it was "normal". I accepted bad treatment and stayed in relationships that had so many red flags. There is no excuse for anyone's bad behaviour and I played a massive role by enabling the bad behaviour because I stayed.
The past was weighing heavily on me. I had a "poor me" and "hate the world" attitude which really did me no favours. I actually thought I had let go of all of my baggage until a couple of years ago when I realised there was more work to do. I only realised this because I had yet found myself in another destructive relationship and this made me realise that I hadn't gotten over my past. If I had, I would not have accepted nor tolerated this type of behaviour.
The moment I realised that what people said or did was a pure reflection of themselves. I felt a sense of clarity. My parents didn't know any better. They didn't know how to handle a teenager or even know what one needed. My mum grew up in a strict upbringing and didn't understand the Aussie culture and my step dad was hurt at the fact I wanted to meet my real dad. Just because they were adults, didn't mean they knew any better. They too were lost souls. I was after all, the first teenager they had to deal with.
In my eyes, I was a pretty tame teenager before I left home. A straight A student and great at most sports. While my friends were experimenting with boys and drugs I chose not to. It wasn't until I got kicked out of home that I started sleeping with boys and dabbling in drugs. It was the rebellious teen in me, "If I am going to be punished, I may as well be doing all of the wrong things". Rebelling made me feel justified in the fact that I had been kicked out of home.
Looking back at all of my relationships, the way my boyfriends had treated me was a reflection of their own fears and insecurities. They felt they weren't good enough and because I had to stand on my own, I had a tough girl attitude. They were scared that I would leave as I acted like I didn't need them, so they felt by belittling me or making me feel insecure, I would stay. A toxic and vicious cycle, it worked but thankfully not for too long.
They were young and didn't understand that instead of bringing someone down, if you really love someone, you build them up and encourage them. I was young and didn't realise that in order for a man to feel loved, he needs to feel needed, he needs to feel like he is providing for his girl.
If someone wants to stay in your life, they will. Who really wants someone to stay with them because they feel they can't do better? Admittedly, that is the reason I stayed in relationships way past their expiry date. I felt like nobody else would love me. I had low self esteem and I didn't think I could do any better.
Learning that everybody's reaction is a reflection of themselves has brought me the greatest sense of peace. Now if someone says or does anything hurtful to me, I wonder what is going on inside of them to want to be able to hurt another human being. I wonder why they feel the need to make another feel small.
I have stopped taking other people's reaction personally and it has done me the greatest of good. I can only control my own reaction. If someone tells me that my dreams are too big and who am I to think I can achieve the things I dream of, I stop and think why they think they cannot do the things that they desire. They don't actually mean that I am not good enough, they just feel that they couldn't do it so why would I be able to?
If a friend or even a guy does or says something to disappoint or hurt me. I look deeper and dig for why they would feel the need to make me feel like crap. Is there something going on with their life? Are they feeling insecure? What triggered them to want to make someone else feel low. If a boss is treating others badly, I wonder if they are under a lot of pressure, are they losing money? Are the higher ups on their back? Misery likes company and happy people don't bring others down.
At the end of the day, we can never control how others react or even act. We only have the power to choose how we react. It's crazy because even if someone is an asshole to me, I have now mastered the act of replying with kindness. In my younger years I would have lost it at them and came back with something just as hurtful. Again, a reflection of myself and my insecurities. Life's too short for that though.
Perspective is key and how we look at things changes everything. I say thank you to all of my exes as they have taught me what I want and don't want. I say thank you to the fuck boy in my life, he taught me that I really wasn't ready for anything serious because if I really was, he would never had been in my life in the first place.
I say thank you to my family that left me high and dry at a young age. If I hadn't been on my own so young, I wouldn't be the person I am today. I wouldn't be as strong as I am and the drive and determination to be better burns so intensely inside of me because the fact I never ever want to feel useless, helpless or worthless ever again. I sure as hell don't want any one else to feel that way either so writing is my way of being able to help others in their own journeys.
Learning not to take anything personally has been the greatest gift of freedom I could ever dream of. The chains that held me down are now released and moving forward, there is not a thing that someone can say or do to me that will affect me like it used to. Be true, be you, and stay real. Treat others how you would like to be treated and when someone comes and tries to knock you down, keep your head held high, wish them the best and keep going on your merry, little way.
Life is a journey that can be as beautiful as we want it to be and we do not need to hold onto anyone that doesn't inspire, motivate or encourage us. It doesn't matter how long we have known them or how much they say they love us. We should respect ourselves enough to know what no longer serves us.
This one lesson in life has brought me the most peace and I wanted to share because I hope it can also bring peace to others. Remember, you are amazing, regardless of what people say or think. You are beautiful especially with your flaws and you are most definitely enough to achieve whatever your heart desires.