The journey to discover ourselves is a difficult one. I heard this often before starting my own journey.

I had a vague idea of what it would be like. I was expecting mountains, lots of them, and valleys to pass through. I was expecting hard times with many rough moments.

When moments of despair needed to be confronted, when my instincts would tell me to stop, I imagined I would remember how nothing worth trying is easy. Looking back with more objective eyes, I see how all the faults I observe in others are actually things I have been holding onto like a precious burden, all because I was told it would not be easy.

Every year, I would tell myself how much I had changed over the previous year. Seeing myself repeatedly performing the same erratic acts became a harsh burden to carry at times. I realized this from the start, so I was well prepared. I knew what I needed to hold onto during those times: my desire to love and comfort myself…
I was also prepared to journey alone, seeing as I had no control over my loved ones. They often found my desire to understand myself pointless. I knew this. They would tell me to stop torturing myself. They would tell that me change is virtually impossible, or at least very difficult, and ultimately useless. This is especially disruptive if you are half way along already, because it reminds you of your old protective comfort zones and what a great thing the status quo seemed like. I was well prepared for this as well.

Change means a thorough change of everything, your behavior and attitudes, as well as a shift in friendships. I would need to leave some people behind, and that was the way it would be. I would need to stop holding onto the things I had insisted on doing for years, and that would mean a great deal of change, but I was ready for it.

I was not ready for one thing, however, and I only realized it recently. I was not ready for my friends’ expectations of my change. It may sound silly, but I realized I was not ready for these expectations. I actually preferred for them to continue in their shared belief that change was impossible. I mean it.

They would applaud my efforts sometimes, and sometimes they would laugh at me. This was never a problem. But I never expected people to expect me to change, if that makes sense, so they would love me more. I was startled by hearing people say how I had really changed, as if I wanted to please others by changing. There were also accusations that I hadn’t gone far enough. I realized how I was opening myself too much to the people I defined as “friends.”  I was creating the expectation of “becoming a better person,” which was not the objective at all.

I am as good as anyone else, but I’m also as bad as any other person, and this will be the case for years to come. My objective is just to love myself more, not because I’ve become a “better” person, but because I’ve got to know myself better and accepted myself not just for my achievements but also for my failures. With all my heart, I believe this is the way to calm my inner turmoil and better understand my ego. It’s a way to be more balanced. I try this for my own sake, not to please others.

While on this path, I only need to know I am loved just the way I am. More than ever, I need friends like the ones Billy Joel sings about:

I wouldn’t leave you in times of trouble
We never could have come this far
I took the good times, I’ll take the bad times
I’ll take you just the way you are

This is all I need, not the expectations and judgments…

I am grateful to those with me, no matter how “unbearably human” I may be…

I am grateful to the old friends who hurt me so much that I started looking for answers to my questions…

I am grateful to the new entrants in my life, the great souls who warm my heart with their unconditional love…

I am grateful to life for all of it…