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Why My Pattern Changed

Since starting Baggage Reclaim back in September 2005, I’m frequently asked about how I broke my pattern of being in unavailable relationships and having low self-esteem. While writing this course, I decided to evaluate what happened from a pattern perspective. What was so different this time?

In a nutshell, I clearly wasn’t doing the same things, but I also found that what had provided the backdrop to my pattern and my soap opera called life–You do know you’re the only person who shows up in all of the scenes in our life, don’t you?– began to change. This made it harder for old habits to continue. In fact, some of my old habits started to look downright odd or crazy and were counter-intuitive to specific goals or desires that I was focusing on at that time.

I had a very different routine in my life.

I’d been expressing my feelings and opinions on my personal blog for just over a year and was just shooting straight from the hip and sharing nuggets from my life. I liked who I was and who I was was real. Instead of just being myself with strangers who were reading my thoughts, I decided to be me on a full-time basis.

At around the time that I had the epiphany, I’d begun reading back through my blog. It clicked with me that I was giving me ample feedback on my life and choices. Reading through my various frustrations about dating and spotting repetitive themes helped to jolt me into recognising me as the common denominator in my life.

I significantly reduced my nightclubbing. I still went out but I just stopped hunting and being hungry for the next guy and the next possibilities every frickin’ weekend with my cronies scanning the ‘territory’ for the ‘loves of our lives’ and hoping that just one of the overfamiliar twits that we spoke to could be a diamond in the rough. Staying in on a weekend night just for the hell of it became a firm favourite with me. I liked my own company, and I didn’t treat it like the booby prize for not being in a relationship.

I took full responsibility for my health and self-esteem. Being told that I would die within ten years if I didn’t go on steroids for life was the severe boot up the arse that I shouldn’t have needed but am thankful for, and it changed everything. I galvanised myself into action, booked an appointment with a kinesiologist and became focused on exhausting all other options before I would take the doctor’s advice and restart steroids. As it was, I went to the first appointment and even though I wanted to run off at certain points, I listened.

Let’s be real: I clearly hadn’t been acting in my best interests. She basically said that it was all very well trying to sort out my health, but unless I sorted out my emotional health at the same time and quit all the lack of boundaries, daddy hunting, and yadda yadda yadda, bigger problems awaited me. I took her advice, kept going for more appointments and stuck to the commitment. The doctors gave me a pretty damning prognosis in August 2005; I’m still steroid free and have been in remission and basically over sarcoidosis for more than a decade.

Setting boundaries, particularly with my family, was pivotal. So I did. And I let the chips fall where they may. There was no announcement; they just found that I wasn’t around to participate, and I limited toxic interactions. Was there conflict at times? Yep. Did it deter me? Nope. On this front, it was flat out not an option. I could literally feel my symptoms kicking in around them.

I scaled back work a little and stopped carrying on like I had no limit. The sky didn’t fall down there either, and for a few months, I arranged with HR to go home an hour earlier. That belief that I’d be ‘really’ ill if I acknowledged my disease was unfounded.

I opted out of any dating situations that became evident of being a no-go. I went from months and years to 0-3 weeks to opt out.

The first half of that year before I had the epiphany actually helped to lay the foundation. I’d created a very different routine already by doing No Contact making it difficult to revert to the Other Woman routine. My body seemed to go on high alert and would become stressed around him, so I kept my distance and limited my interactions with him. Yep, boundaries.

I was off alcohol so I couldn’t even blame any of my behaviours, thinking or decisions on being inebriated. It meant that I could also observe situations more clearly and to be honest, I realised that I didn’t like my ex and some other people that I spent time around.

I was very aware of how I felt about everything, which was very new for me. I was in regular daily contact with myself, and I thought it would be weird, but I quickly got used to it. This meant listening to my thoughts, observing my life, observing others, and feeling my feelings without shutting them down or doing something strange off the back of them.

The day of my first kinesiology appointment, her words clicked with me about the ridiculousness of blaming me for all the stuff with my parents, and I felt lighter. I wrote and burnt a lot of Unsent Letters. Hell, my blog has and continues to be very cathartic.

I ate well. It’s not that I was a junk eater, but I had some bad habits like skipping breakfast and not drinking enough water. Making dietary changes to alleviate my symptoms and boost my immune system made it easier to stick to this commitment.

I started acupuncture after a few months, which really accelerated the progress with healing my health issues.

I was excited and curious about me.

I worked out who I was, who I wanted to be and what I wanted to do. Writing out my short, medium, and long-term goals made me realise that I was fannying my life away on stuff that had nothing to do with where I was headed. I became focused and conscious.

I did cry and get pissed off with myself on quite a few occasions, but then I would wake up with my resolve. One day I overheard the stuff I was saying about me in my mind and was appalled. To this day, I make a conscious effort to not be too hard on me. I don’t always get it right, because, well, I’m a recovering perfectionist and people pleaser, but I do more often than not, plus each experience of it contains new lessons for me.

I kept in mind where I was headed and where I was coming from. I accepted without resistance that what I’d done previously wasn’t working for me and still wouldn’t even if I improved my health and never went near the ex with the girlfriend or the guy who gave me my epiphany, ever again. When I strayed off the path, it’s because I lost my focus and got distracted by drama and bullshit. I had to shut certain things out and not justify myself. “I think you’re being too picky” I was told when I opted out of dating three different unavailable men and turned down others. I only looked picky because I’d had no quality control before. That and the very people who said I was “picky” had their own issues and eventually had to become ‘pickier’ themselves.

Before these big shifts happened with my pattern, I was always too preoccupied with some guy, or pleasing others, or ignoring my needs and desires while blaming me for everything, to notice a damn thing.

It wasn’t any one thing that changed everything, although each of the steps, changes, shifts, twists, turns, ups and downs all feed into and support each other. There were a lot of things I was doing differently without even realising, but they all boiled down to me being invested and conscious about what did and didn’t work.

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