As I navigate through my recovery journey, I continue to uncover more truths about myself. The most recent discovery I made has to do with my constant seeking of approval and permission from those I care about most.
I remember on my 22nd birthday I told my friend Sophie all I wanted was to not have to make the decisions for the day. Looking back now I realize what a silly request that was. Why do I want to have no control over my life? So I won’t be responsible for the consequences? Because I lack the confidence in myself to trust the decisions that I make? I imagine there are multiple reasonings at play that I could get into, but let’s follow the lack of confidence.
Self-confidence is an issue that, like many others, I have struggled with for a long time. Sometimes people are surprised to hear that. I’ve been told I carry myself as though I do, but I’m working to better match my external self to my internal self. I have a difficult time with accepting myself as I am, as both transgender and an alcoholic. Through my most recent relapse, I’ve managed to come to terms with the latter, but I’m still working on the former. I’ve only been out for a few months so it will likely come with time, however, I do wish that the acceptance would come quicker.
I think it’s only through practice and trust in my journey that I will develop confidence in myself. I’m learning that I don’t need permission of anyone to live my truth. All each of us is attempting to do is live out our own understandings of the world we’ve been placed in. My perspective is no more right or wrong than the next person’s but I only believe that from a logical standpoint right now. The emotional attachment to this is much more pervasive. I still believe that someone else has the answers to the existential questions I’m asking, and I need only to keep asking to find it.
We each start our lives living within the framework with which we were raised, but at some point we realize that we’re able to make our own decisions. It took me a bit longer to come to this, and with the insistent inner monologue constantly second-guessing everything I do, it’s difficult for me to trust this process. I have a hard time letting go of the framework I was raised to operate in and develop my own truth because I still somewhat believe the one I was raised with is the only way.
My senior portfolio in college was titled, “Against Absolute Truth.” I questioned the notion that any one religion is the “right” one and proposed that perhaps each is simply a different path to the same place. That religions are human conceptions of a power greater than us that can’t be conceived by our limited understanding. No one knows what happens when we die and I live my life terrified of the idea that I might burn in hell for eternity. The Bible clearly states its stance but it’s my choice to decide whether or not I will let that control me. I believe I’m a good person but it says the only way to heaven is to believe that Jesus died on the cross for my sins.
Would a loving God condemn an entire group of people for not accepting this? Ignore the love, tolerance, and kindness they showed to everyone around them because they happened to accept a different truth in an effort to reach the same destination? Jesus said the first greatest commandment is to love the Lord thy God, but is there a specific way the Lord thy God must be loved? How am I to know that another religion’s path to the Promised Land isn’t correct?
There is no way to know and I can’t wait around for someone to answer that question for me because they can’t. No one knows the truth. All we can have is faith in our own understanding that we are doing the right thing for ourselves. I have a difficult time with this because I don’t trust my own journey, and I don’t quite know how I’m supposed to come to that acceptance. I’m learning that I’m able to create a God of my own understanding, but what if that’s the “wrong” God?
Perhaps I think too much on a topic that shouldn’t be so complex. Maybe I over think it. This is the journey I’m on, though, and the questioning mind is the one I was given. In time I may learn to trust myself and my perspective. Until then it will be an exhausting game of second-guessing. All I can do is move forward. I’ve been told the only way to gain self-esteem is by doing esteemable acts. Perhaps I will come to an acceptable understanding through the process of helping others.
That’s all I aim to do. Instead of overthinking endlessly, I want to reach outside of myself and help other people. Living life outside of myself will help me not think so much about things I’ll never know the answer to. Maybe it’s just that. Helping other people to get out of myself and stop cycling upon things I have no control over. I can’t be the only one who struggles with this so I hope someone is able to identify with my rambling.
I believe through sharing my truth I can help someone else. This may not have made much sense to some but might read clearly to others. Explaining what’s going on in my head might connect with another person somewhere on the internet.
I don’t need to wait around for acceptance and permission, I need to give it to myself. It’s not so much the path that brought me here that matters but the steps I take going forward. I want to do esteemable acts and learn to trust the journey I’ve been placed in. I can do something little every day to help myself move towards that.
If you relate or have any insights on giving yourself permission, let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear others’ opinions on this.