This post is published today, May 15, for a reason. It’s in Jake’s memory- he would have been 38 today. It’s fitting that I chose the importance of being yourself as today’s topic.
I nicknamed Jake my “Superman” because of his size (he was 6’3″- when you’re 5’2″, that’s a huge difference) and because he saved me from the mess my life was in. He also reminded me that it was okay to be me.
I had lost myself and didn’t even know it. I’d become absorbed in trying to get Julian somewhere near okay- stabilized on meds and socially balanced. He was less aggressive but still struggling to connect with others. Matthew and I fought constantly over what to do. We clashed on many other things- my anxiety skyrocketed. I began a quest to make things perfect to try to appease his anger. This story can be found in The Reality Check
Slowly, Jake and I began to open up to each other. Both of us had reasons for holding back, but one text changed that.
“I want you to be yourself around me as much as possible.”
I never forgot those words. I felt like it was okay to be myself again with someone I cared about. I felt relieved. I became happy again. As wrong as the situation was, I had found some way to be happy.
Dropping the Mask
As I got happier, I also became stronger. This happens when you have someone in your life that wants you to be happy and believes in you. Jake let me cry when I needed it, reminded me that I was a great mom when I had bad mom days, and that I was still a good person in the end. Jake saw me get angry and call him out on his mistakes but I believe he respected me more afterwards. In return, he was himself around me. (The only times he wasn’t was during an episode, but that was out of his control.)
I started writing poems again. I began to learn my limits and got tired of being yelled at constantly. I got tired of being put down even when I was putting out my best efforts. I lost 60 lbs, straightened my hair and bought new clothes.
I even started engaging with my friends again. I’d hidden away while dealing with Lily and Julian’s assorted special needs therapies and they understood,but it was time. I realized that it was time to drop the mask I had been hiding behind- the struggling-to-be-perfect mom. That mask was slipping away.
I’m naturally funny- sarcasm is one of my best qualities. It gets me through a lot. I’d lost this and more. I was trying to be who Matthew wanted me to be and it just wasn’t working. I couldn’t be unemotional, a cleaning machine and basically a porn star. I felt like I was worth more to him with my clothes off than on.
Who wants to feel like that?
Matthew didn’t like any of this. He knew these changes were not good for him- I was going back to my feisty, loud self. I was not going to deal with any more damage. If that meant my leaving, so be it.
Jake died in September 2015. I fell into a black hole and went into therapy to deal.
The Superpower Factor
Even if you change, your true personality will always come back. Mine did. My humor returned, along with my ability to not care a lot, if at all, what others think. I also developed a great ability to cut out toxic people from my life.
You might be wondering: did Matthew like the changed me? He sure did. It was that or we were going to battle things out in court. I gave him time to get used to it and as of this post, we are happily together.
When you aren’t true to yourself, it will show. You’re lost. You’re not happy. Some people fall into a pattern of trying to tear others down- I’ve seen this first hand.
Everyone is different, and that’s why I call individuality a superpower. You have something in you that nobody else has. Find it and run with it. Cherish who you are and don’t change for anyone. Learning about myself was such a good thing for me and I had an amazing teacher.