When we talk about success, we often fail to talk about emotional success. I want to talk about emotional success as a woman and a parent. Emotional success is what lays the foundation for other forms of success. Without it, we may never find ourselves fulfilled, nor be able to reach the goals we aspire to.
Our thoughts are much like an iceberg. The thoughts we are aware of are only the tip of what is truly going on inside. Detrimental thoughts consume us and creates negative emotional feedback loop. It happens every day, when we go about our day, unaware of what is happening in our subconscious minds.
My career has been one of my greatest challenges. I attended university because that is what I was told to do. In fact, I wanted to go to art school. I didn’t have the confidence nor the self belief that I should do what works for me. I never stood a chance against the currents of family expectations. It all started with the fact that my father did not value the arts. He saw it as a waste of time. This started very early on. This belief system became a seed that started to poison my being. As I became older, I started to become the deliverer of that message. I started to not allow myself permission to practice what I loved the most. I had a mental block towards having a creative career. I could not allow myself to do it. Instead, I started to look for other alternatives. And I failed in all of them. I realize now that it all had to do with wanting to be a “good girl” and get approval from my parent.
I realize after all these years, at age 34, and having both my parents gone prematurely, that none of what they thought about me, and what they wanted for me, matters. Happiness is what we give ourselves. Instead, I dug myself into a hole of a life that I don’t like, based on opinions that do not matter in the end. What my parents thought never made my life better. I lived a life that does not suit me. And since going against my own wishes has become such a pattern, I constructed a life of mistakes based on that habit. From the outside, I am a good giving girl. The rest of the iceberg is a conflicted, sometimes suicidal daughter and an ex wife who is tired of giving and living on other people’s agenda, all for their love and approval, and for their purpose.
My first step to stopping this was to leave my ex husband. This is why I say that single motherhood saved me from a life of mediocrity. In that relationship too, it was all based on what he wanted and he thought our life should be. At the time, as a conflicted 21 year old woman, I felt lost about what to do with my life. As an older man, I wanted his guidance, with my parents being gone, I felt that I had no one. I never thought of myself as “the one” for me. He decided for me that I should first have his children, then worry about career. So I did, with trust. This was a failure of a relationship. Anything thereafter had to do with all his agenda, and what he wanted his life to be. Where we lived, how we decorated our house, what we fed to our children was all based on what he wanted. Me leaving that relationship was the first step to standing up for myself, in the face of chauvinism that is a strong force in many women’s lives, as it has been for mine. We sometimes forget that being in North America does not free us of deep gender issues that are rooted many generations back. My ex is not the one to take all the blame. My father and my family instilled in me that a man like this is acceptable. It took me looking into my newborn daughter’s eyes, seeing her as I was seeing myself in my mother’s arms, to make the decision that I will never allow this family to instill that same belief in her. I will never be the enabler who helps to instill belief systems that are self-rejecting and devaluing of her strengths and her desires.
At 29 I found myself in the same exact place I was as my 21 year-old self. Still lost. Confused. Good giving girl. Living for other people’s agenda. Except it is my turn to start bringing in income on top of being a good giving mom. I had not worked in more than 5 years. Careers are tough for young people just out of school. Imagine being that young person, plus two babies to look after. My friends and my brother were finishing their Ph.D. I was changing diapers and working in a low paying job.
It took me time to realize that awareness is the first step to change. Until that point, I never realized that I had been living for other people’s agenda.
The world is full of people who do not know how to love. They have not been loved well, so they do not know how to love. That was my father, and many men I have encountered. When I started to become the one I need the most, I decided that it was time for me to nurture myself, which meant that I am going to do me. It is time for me, my children. Time for ME now.
I meet many single mothers, and even though the reasons as to why they are single are different, it all rounds up to something similar. Many were good girls, and don’t see the betrayal coming their way, unaware and unable to see the little clues that were hurting us along the way. We wake up suddenly when it starts to hurt our children. Our love for them is louder than the love for ourselves. For me, the love for my children was a great catalyst. However, in order to continue to love our children well, is to become a master of self love.
If you relate to this, this is your time to do YOU. Life is never safe, there is never a guarantee, so only now is the best time to start living free. Free of fear of being judged, not being okay, or not being able to rely on anyone. We only have ourselves in the end.