I had a super intense individual session yesterday in therapy. We talked about what I want. It was hard – whenever I started to even just think about what I wanted, I began to cry. Because I realized – I don’t know what I want.
I’ve lived my life according to “should’s” and “must’s” so much. I’ve lost practice tuning into what I really want. I had no idea how to figure it out. And whenever I started to get close, fear got in the way. What if what I want isn’t going to work out? What if it’s the wrong choice? What if it’s a mistake? What if I should have chosen something else? What if I confused myself and thought that I wanted something that I didn’t really want? I realized that I’ve gotten so caught up living according to a rigid set of ED values I don’t even know how to tell what it is I really want anymore. All I could feel was the fear.
So, my therapist asked me what my core values. Me, Miceala. What are my core values. Not what are the values that I live according to, or what are the values that I think should be my core values, but what are they, really.
It was tough.
I had the choice of spouting off some dinky set of stereotypical values. You know, the whole me vs. ED thing. But I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to really, truly figure out what my values are in life. What do I really hold as important? What do I really want to guide my life? It took a lot of soul-searching. While I delved into myself, I kept noticing that other values – precepts that I had been living according to, rather than wanted to live according to, kept popping up, so we came up with two different lists – my values, and ED’s values. Here’s what we came up with:
- Having a positive impact.
- Faith in God and being in community with those with shared faith values.
- Being true/authentic/genuine to myself.
- Being creative.
- Being kind and supportive.
- Friendship/having a sense of belonging.
- There is a right and there is a wrong.
- Being acceptable to others.
- Being a standard.
- Making everyone happy.
- Never making a mistake/taking no big risks.
My therapist held up the post-it note with my values, looked me straight in the eye, and said, “This is how you know what you want.”
It seemed so foreign. It was shocking, realizing how lost my values had gotten and how much I had been living according to ED’s values instead. It was almost frightening, thinking about abandoning ED’s structure for my life and taking a chance on the values that I, all on my own, without the guidance of “should” and “have to,” came up with. Talk about risk taking.
But there was something else there, too.
A taste of freedom.