Are you living on auto pilot and bored with your life? Have you forgotten what makes your soul sing, or how to be happy anymore? Have you sacrificed most of your dreams and desires and are constantly exhausted? Do you feel alone and your smile hides a constant pain? Is your self worth measured by how other’s perceive you, and are you fed up with trying to be someone you are not? These are all signs that you are living a lie and not being your authentic self.
I was living a lie for a long time. I didn’t mean to, or want to, in fact I even fought it for a time, but it just slowly happened. By trying to fit in with society’s expectations and be the person everyone expected me to be, my personality changed into someone I didn’t recognise. It started with little enhancements, trying to appear confident when I was not, hiding the truth when ashamed, hiding my flaws. I know exactly when it started. It was during an important relationship with some one I looked up to. What I wanted out of life took a back seat to what he wanted. It wasn’t all his fault. I wanted to please him. I wanted to fit in with his friends. I wanted the relationship to work. My low self worth believed him when he said I was wrong or needed to change.
I later changed in a job. I was good at my job and wanted promotion but my ‘bolshy’ self wasn’t acceptable for high office and so I dampened my fires, I changed my behaviour to become acceptable. I changed how I dressed. I went out for drinks socially with people I didn’t even like. I even had a boyfriend later that I knew I despised (when the real me was conscious , which wasn’t very often). I remember practicing my speech and facial expressions in the mirror to get the right look if I was meeting someone important. When job applications asked me to describe myself, I didn’t know who I was and so the lie continued and I put what was expected. When I then got the job I then had to behave like that. The real me was hidden and lost by now, anyway.
I constantly felt bored and was sad all of the time, but obviously I hid this in public. It wouldn’t have fitted in with the facade. Deep down I didn’t have anything in common with the people around me. Fitting in and acquiring status and material things didn’t fulfil me. It was never going to, as deep down it was not the values of the real me. I can remember sitting on my bed and looking in the wardrobe mirror and actually saying to myself ‘who are you? ‘.
The thing is, you don’t know you are playing a role, you don’t know you are lying as it has all become a tangled part of you. Your brain has rationalised stuff and your ego has been trying to protect you. The only time I was my real self was when I played with kids. It was acceptable for the facade to come down then as that was seen as playing a role in my job, but in fact it was the real me. The trouble is, when you realise that you are living a lie, how can you just dismantle it? I was successful as far as people were concerned. I had the house, the car and the good job, the status. I would be nothing without them. What would people think? What would it do to my children? I had been lying to myself as well as others and my whole world, and that of my children, balanced on a fantasy.
However as I became conscious of it through self reflection, I knew this deceit was making me ill. Denial and self deception were literally sucking the life out of me and I couldn’t keep up the pretence any more. When I finally decided to rid myself of this lie in 2010, and find out who I really was, it was like jumping out of a plane without a parachute. I didn’t know if I was going to survive the descent, but I did. I lost friends and I lost family. I was no longer who they wanted me to be and could not be manipulated any more. My children, however, supported me as they had seen the ‘real me’ when playing. It was so worth it though. I have been so much happier these past 13 years. Ironically more people accept me now, and actually like me because I am being my authentic self. I no longer care that those that I used to try and impress would probably look down on my life now. As long as I am happy, what does it matter?
The red flags were there at the beginning but I ignored them. Now and then I would become conscious of the lie, but I would dismiss it and put it to the back of my brain. I so wished I had realised and taken action before it was too late. It would have saved me from wasting a lot of my life in misery. However, on a positive note, at least I did realise, as some people, and I suspect my Mum was one of them, never do. People ask me now why I talk and write about my flaws, and think I am putting myself down. I am not. I am just making sure that I am not sucked into that lie of people pleasing, and trying to be accepted, ever again.