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Et tu, Brute?

It really should be “et tu, Ash?”

In truth, I have betrayed myself more times than I wish to admit. Possibly more times than I can even remember. And seeing that I’m only 26, I’m pretty sure it will happen again.

There are certain betrayals that are common, quick to pick up on, and more or less relatable:

  1. people pleasing

  2. going against your values

  3. staying in situations longer than you should

… etc. & etc.

The thing is I’ve always thought of myself as very aware and I used that very perception of my self to build a sort of defining self concept around why I allowed certain things… why I kept betraying myself. In my own little twisted way of coping with my actions, my inactions, and those consequences I told myself a story of being fine with the positions I would find myself in. I created a mantra premised on my belief that as long as I wasn’t hurting anyone but myself everything would be fine. Typing that stings a little because really of all the philosophies I could have concocted, why did I have to choose one that was so rife with disregard for self, but I digress.

I only realized how bad it was when I was forced do some introspection a year ago and even then I had hardly scratched the surface. It wasn’t until I started therapy recently that I was shown how damaging it had been, not only to me, but the way I showed up in my relationships. So I was in fact hurting the persons around me. (very small tangent, there’s a profound sense of sadness when you realize the shortfalls of your previous versions, also a bit of shame but again, I digress.)

I was purposely betraying myself because anything else would mean showing up for myself in ways that I didn’t think I was capable of doing. Rather, that was a job I didn’t want to take on and if I kept telling myself the same stories from before I’d never have to face that and inadvertently face my own limitations. And more importantly, I’d never have to work to fix it. I could live in my own chaotic bliss.

Of course, at that point I couldn’t claim ignorance anymore. I had started to hate myself and I hated my life. Which leads me to one of the most important lessons I’ve learnt – if you keep making the same mistakes, you’ll be forced to learn the same lessons and face the same restrictions. So I started to do the work.

In doing the work, I started to grapple with another type of betrayal. That is, I began to belive that I had betrayed myself by choosing myself – which is a paradox in and of itself but apparently possible.

In the beginning of all my inner works (I didn’t want to use those words because I think it comes off as pompous but yea, you get it) I had a hard time reconciling what I referred to at the time as ‘old me’ and ‘present self’.

I started doing certain things (and avoiding others) and I’d find myself going ‘who the fuck do you think you are?’. It felt like old me was on a war path and I’d try to pacify her by dabbling in old habits but they just didn’t feel good anymore. I tried to attempt the greatest balancing act by safely threading the lines of the life I lived and I life I knew I wanted.

After going through the motions, I realized that my therapist really was right. I was afraid of having to show up for myself.

So for a minute I considered continuing to live in my own chaos – I was used to it, I could go a little longer. I felt like I was doing a disservice to Ashleigh pre-epiphany. It felt like I was losing her and since much of my identity had been wrapped up in my behaviors prior, for a while I didn’t know who I was either. (It’s a very odd thing to realize that much of your identify was wrapped up in habits you adopted to feel safe and so that identify really wasn’t who you were anyways but again I digress and this ends my final digression for this post)

I had built a refuge within myself , and when I decided that I wanted to be better, I guess old me felt betrayed. When I dug a little deeper I guess I understood the apprehensions. By going through these radical changes it was almost like I was saying she wasn’t good enough. And this might sound like some pseudo psycho shit but I had to sit with her (me) and tell her (me) otherwise. This wasn’t an act of betrayal. Showing up for myself was the greatest form of love I’d (we’d) ever experience. She had brought me so far and I’m forever grateful for that.

Now I’m not saying that conversation smoothed things over. Integrating all the parts of yourself is a lifelong journey… I think.

In a sense I really don’t recognize myself from 2 years ago. But not on some condescending type vibe. I wish I had showed up for her in the way she needed but in the words of an old friend, “old you could only wish she could know, what you know now.” So even as I continue to bridge the gap between me then and me now I’ll tell her that I love her and that she did nothing wrong, but we’re doing things different now.

Really I say all that to say, when you’ve neglected yourself for so long, any alternative action seems like an act of war against your former-self. But you owe it to yourself (all versions) to show up for yourself. And even if you don’t come to that realization today and maybe decide to make that big step months or even years from now, I hope you know it’s never too late. I hope you continue to give all versions of yourself grace and I hope you’re able to find peace in your own compassion for self.

“But then the light, it came, my baby Right after I forgave me And I prayed so hard, I thought I’d lose my mind I’m a little stronger baby Took a little longer, maybe Tell my younger self to enjoy the ride.” Cleo Sol – Rose in the Dark


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