I'm Not Sorry for Being Myself

April 16th, 2018

 

 

As a child of divorce, I spent my teen years warding off the men my mother dated. Unasked, I stepped in to protect her, because she deserved only the best. Though at times she was convinced these tendencies came from my selfish desire for her to not remarry, I hope my mom understands today (she’s happily remarried) that I simply wanted her to know her value — something many of us ladies forget to prioritize.

Looking on at a young age, I couldn’t understand why my mother let these men, who were so undeserving of her thoughts or space, take up her time. It wasn’t until I was in a volatile relationship of my own that I truly understood why my mother undervalued her worth, and just how scary it can be to stand up to someone and demand what you deserve.

After college, I moved to the city to pursue any career opportunity, chasing a dream I still have yet to figure out. My college boyfriend lived mere minutes away from my aunt (who I lived with in Brooklyn rent free). For a brief period of time I thought that everything was figuring itself out.

It didn’t take too long—just like my mom had done—for me to lose my voice and loosen my grip on prioritizing my own happiness. When you’re in an unhealthy relationship, you lose sight of reality. He reminded me daily how little he thought of me, how he cheated on me while ditching plans and managing to avoid meeting my family. I felt like a punching bag. One of the ones you see at used car lots: one hit and right back up.

I knew deep down that I should walk away. But I was scared of him. Scared of who I was capable of being without him. I was convinced that I was not good enough for him, my friends, my family, or my job. I lost contact with the people who mattered most. I was embarrassed of who I became. And, ultimately, I became the person I promised myself I would never be.

There were times when I did walk away, only to be convinced days later that things would change and he’d treat me better. I wanted it to be worth it. Why else was I sticking around for the deprecation? I undervalued myself for fear of overvaluing myself. I was scared I wasn’t better than him. I convinced myself that in some bizarre world, this is what I deserved. I walked on eggshells. I apologized for what I said, where I was, and who I was.

Complacency, fear, and delusion fogged my ability to understand what was real. Until one day I stopped apologizing for being myself. I stopped making excuses for a person who gave me nothing and made me feel numb and empty. I finally walked away. And I never looked back.

I spent the next three years carefully nurturing the relationships I’d neglected. And more importantly, I learned to love myself again. I learned to never silence the voice inside me. I vowed to never let my self-worth be taken from me again. I stopped saying sorry for being who I am. Because I am not sorry for being me.

At a young age, I thought I had it all figured out, but clearly I was wrong. It took real life to knock me on my ass. Sometimes you have to feel the lowest of lows, to eventually get the highest of highs and be able to unapologetically enjoy life and all the incredible experiences it brings.

Peyton McCarthy