I lived the first 35 years of my life desperately seeking approval. I did everything that was expected of me. I consistently morphed myself into the good girl that people wanted me to be, did what they expected, worried if anyone was upset and, basically, never rocked the boat. I lived to be in everyone’s good graces, and it was exhausting.
So when did I stop giving a shit? It began while I was getting divorced 10 years ago. I could not take my mom to some doctors’ appointments because I needed to work more. I was saving to rent a house for my sons and myself. I told my mother no for the first time. She didn’t speak to me for three months. At a time when I needed her the most, she didn’t support me because I was not being the good daughter and helping her.
It was an epiphany that brought both clarity and searing pain. In hindsight, it was the most liberating moment of my life. I realized that I was consistently changing myself and accommodating others, both at my own expense, purely to be loved.
It didn’t work. I wasn’t loved, accepted or supported.
I was in the midst of conditional love. I was loved if I behaved in a certain way. The beauty of that realization was that I was free to figure out who would love me if I acted authentically. I got to decide who was truly in my tree of trust. Disengaging from the conditional relationships in my life gave me the power to choose what mattered to me. What I wanted for my sons, my lifestyle and my business mattered. First and foremost, I mattered. I finally mattered.
I became very unpopular when I stopped being the good girl. Trimming the branches off of my tree was very hard at the time. It was lonely and anxiety-inducing. I’ve got some deeply rooted abandonment issues and pissing people off felt like hurling myself into an abyss.
What I discovered is the world did not fall off its axis when I spoke up. I didn’t crack in two. People who “would always be there for me” were not, and that became OK. Then it became more than OK. It was a blessing to see who was supportive of my authentic self and choices. The events surrounding my divorce affirmed the solid branches of my tree of trust. It also gave me clarity to trim many others. I was able to trim out of love, not anger. I was making choices out of love for myself. This made it much easier to not give a shit.
All this taught me that unless you’re in my tree of trust, I don’t give a shit what you think. And you shouldn’t either. It’s not the easiest process, but creating a life of being loved for your authentic self is true freedom.