Thoughts on being your authentic self, no matter what.

I have a lot to say about living an authentic life. So much so, that it’s the topic of a book I’ve been working on for quite some time. I understand that there are many books sharing the same topic, but this one is my story. It’s about how I learned to figure out who I really was and then the process of becoming that. It sounds easier than it was. Along the way, I learned to love myself and consequentially it saved my life.

This, however, could not wait for the book. There are times where I must say something to make myself feel better. For years I’ve referred to Atomic Betty’s as my “therapy blog”. I would love to say I write this for you, but frequently the blog posts I write are because it’s something I need to hear. This is one of those times.

Growing up I had to be a chameleon. I had to be whatever my emotionally bankrupt parents needed me to be in order to try and get the love I needed. It was a sort of childhood survival tactic. The problem with that is you eventually lose yourself completely. Then you have no idea who you are as you grow up and you begin repeating those behaviors in all of your relationships.

It took a lot of time and effort to first figure out who I was and then to become that without apology. The difficulty I face these days, from time to time, is being who I am without that apology. Every once in awhile I’ll still substitute someone else’s opinion for my own. Especially if it’s laced with a dose of shame. If someone shames me for something that is just me, it immediately makes me think I’m in the wrong and that my behavior has to be adjusted accordingly to gain and maintain that “approval” which in my childhood brain defines as being the same as love.

One of my favorite authors who helped me so much along my journey is Dr. Henry Cloud of Boundaries’ fame. But he’s written so much more. Yesterday a beautiful quote from him came across my Instagram feed. He said, “Certainly we should listen to the thoughts of others and weigh them, but we should never ‘give our minds’ over to anyone. We are to weigh things for ourselves in the context of a relationship, ‘sharpening’ each other as iron, but remaining separate thinkers.”

It was a good reminder.

Another good reminder is to remember it’s a massive error to fall into the trap of believing that I have any control over someone else. That includes their thinking, their actions, and whether or not they choose to give me love and approval. That is their choice and their choice alone and I have ZERO control over it.

Most of the time I get it right. Every once in awhile it still gets to me, especially with the people that I love the most.

Whenever that happens I have to remind myself of exactly who I am. I pause. I put thought into it and I figure it out.

This is who I am.

I am passionate about almost everything in my life. I can be loud. Really loud. I can be quiet. If you hurt me, I get really quiet. If you scare me, I get really loud.

I’m the kind of person that gets excited, stupidly excited, over food. I always have. My mom was a great cook.

I get equally excited over an icy cold beer after riding my bicycle or whenever I’m about to dive face-first into a pizza.

I have one of the biggest hearts on the planet. Especially for animals. Yesterday alone I fed a cat, a deer, a skunk, a baby fox, and 4 raccoons. In that order. If you tell me a bad animal story, I will likely cry and then obsessively think about it for days and days. And it will hurt me every time I do.

When it comes to people, I’m different. Even with a big heart, if someone has truly wounded me, I can detach like a MFer and literally move forward feeling absolutely nothing. I don’t know that that’s a good thing. I stopped beating myself up over it.

My family is different. I’ll always love them even if they don’t love me back. They are still the ones who can wound me the most.

I play hard. I work hard. I love hard.

I have an obnoxiously loud laugh.

I’m always reading no less than five books at once.

Being outside is my happy place and I get really, really happy about it. I get cranky if I go too many days in a row without “outside” time.

I overthink everything.

When it comes to my kids, I turn into the biggest mama bear of all the mama bears. I would take a bullet for them at any moment and would utter words of gratitude with my dying breath for the opportunity.

I live in a constant state of gratitude–for the good, and the bad.

I curse a lot. It still makes me laugh.

I’m nice to people…unless they are tailgating me.

I’m one of the biggest dreamers you’ll ever meet. I need to be more of a doer. (Ask me about that book again…)

I’m very competitive.

I love baseball more than I can ever say. The sound of it makes me happy. It reminds me of summers with my amazing grandparents who always had a game on and always had time for me. But yes, if I’m watching an important game, I’m going to be nervous. I’m going to be loud. And I’m going to love every moment of it.

I’m trying to eradicate the need to explain myself and concentrate on the people who love me unconditionally. You know who you are, and I am grateful.

I know I can be over-the-top. But for the most part, I’m a pretty damned decent human being. So I will leave you with the iconic words of Del Griffith and pray that you know who the hell that is.

“Well, you think what you want about me. I’m not changing. I like me…’Cause I’m the real article. What you see is what you get.”

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.