I walk out of the Life Coaching session beaming. There is something about saying things aloud to someone I trust that shows me how strong I am and how well I’m doing. I see myself as he seems to see me – competent, insightful, brave and proactive.
So much has happened in the two weeks since I’ve last been with him. I’m leaving unhealthy situations. I found a beautiful house to move in to. I started a new course. And I’ve taken a few steps to further my career.
The Life Coach points out that I’m starting to have a healthy sense of entitlement. This means that I know that I’m entitled to have my needs met, in my living environment and in my relationships. I’m thinking more of myself now. And I’m believing that I deserve good things in my life.
I tell the Life Coach that I can really appreciate how I am now because I used to feel so bad. I was anxious. I worried that I wasn’t good enough. I compared myself unfavourably to others and beat myself up on a fairly constant basis.
I also landed myself in less than ideal conditions. And I didn’t even question them. Because I didn’t realise that I deserved better.
Up until very recently, when I spotted a good-looking guy, I’d immediately think: He’d never look at me. Talk about placing huge invisible walls around myself. Invisible but impenetrable nonetheless.
I’d feel intimidated if a man seemed to have it all together. The men I did feel comfortable with often had so much baggage that it was no wonder the relationship couldn’t go far. Slap my baggage on top of that and we couldn’t move at all.
At twenty-three, I married a man who tried to change me completely. When I first started seeing him, he lived in a rough part of Bilbao. Prostitutes and drug dealers hung out on the street corners. My ex’s flat had mice and boarded up windows.
But I was in love. And nothing else matters when you have love, right? I was defiant in my love for him. Who needed money or common beliefs or a partner who thought you were lovely just as you were?
I didn’t think enough of myself to expect nice dates and holidays with my boyfriend. I didn’t even think enough of myself to expect to be treated with respect and acceptance.
What did it matter if he was pressuring me to change, pressuring me to marry him? I had such a low sense of self that I was okay to bend to his will. Until one day I wasn’t.
So I left him but I went on to date addicts and emotionally unavailable men. Why? They say like attracts like. It was all I knew.
Recently, something big happened in one of my closest relationships. I had to make a tough decision to change my behaviour. I had to break free.
This comfort zone was no longer comfortable. Although it felt impossible to cut the ties of this codependent relationship, not doing it was a scarier option. So I did it.
The guilt and fear threatened to push me backwards but I forged forwards anyway. In order to do that, I had to let go of some of that baggage.
And now I’m moving into a gorgeous house in a lovely little village. I’m surrounding myself with people who think that I’m awesome. I’m doing things that nourish me. I’m meditating, exercising, reading and writing. I’m stepping out of that comfort zone and I’m proud of myself for it.
This morning, after the Life Coaching session, I decide to treat myself to a soya latte and a gluten-free scone with strawberry jam and cream.
I walk into the café where an attractive man catches my eye. Out of habit, I duck my head. Then I remember who I am. How amazing I am.
The smile comes from deep inside. I raise my chin. It doesn’t matter whether he likes me or not. Because I like me.
And my healthy sense of entitlement is telling me that I want to be open to all the wonderful possibilities that are staring me right in the face.