Through therapy and life events, I am realising how little I value myself.
But that’s not even it. I can’t find the words for what it is … it’s as though, in my mind, I am insubstantial, while everyone else is solid and real. So I can’t make decisions about my well-being, because other people decide those things. Sometimes they decide in concrete ways (by taking charge and making decisions for me) and sometimes they decide just as a by-product of my thoughts (as in ‘I can’t say that because I might hurt X’). Either way, I am not directing events – I am watching and then going along for whatever ride others decide for me.
This only applies to personal relationships, not to other aspects of my life. In my career, for example, I have always been decisive, often assertive, sometimes confident, and – no matter how I felt – I have always made things happen. And it applies to other walks of life too. If I decide to get in shape, I join a gym and I go regularly. If I decide I want a rescue dog, I apply myself to the search until I find the right one. If I decide to go in for an art exhibition, I work my ass off until I have enough good work to be accepted.
But in my personal life, I shrink from decisions and avoid taking action. I let other people decide everything. Even when I do make a decision, I renege on it if others don’t see things my way, or don’t want to go along. I live in terror of causing pain or drama. And I live in equal (or greater?) fear of feeling pain.
And I think it all comes down to this sense of being insubstantial in a world of solid, real people who matter in a way I don’t seem to feel that I do. Or maybe it’s my way of avoiding responsibility – “I didn’t decide that, he/she did” – or maybe it’s both.
Whatever the reason, I have come to see that I won’t be able to make decisions that are right for me until I understand who I am and what I want.
These portraits are one of the ways I am trying to find my way back to myself. I stare into the mirror or at the photograph, and try to see more than that flimsy ghost who exists in my mind.
Yoga is another path I am trying and I do find that I feel more calm and centred after a class. I think maybe that shows in this drawing.
This is #276 in a year-long series of selfies. The rest are here.