Greetings from the cosy confines of my duvet – yes, for the first time in a long time, we won’t be doing anything for New Years as I’m sick with some flu-ey type thing that seems to be doing the rounds. Thank you for all of your lovely congratulations messages – I’m grinning from ear to ear about our engagement although it’s been tempered by the fact that a family member is really unwell in hospital. A very bittersweet time.

I want to thank you all for being a part of my life journey and taking the time to read my thoughts on relationships and self-esteem. Your support means a lot and I’m humbled that I’ve been able to be a part of your own journeys and that what I share with you here is helping you have better self-esteem and more positive relationships.

Life is an ongoing journey and you never stop learning, with the same situations being thrown at you until you heed those lessons.

We only get one ride through this life so we should be conscientious in who we choose to make our journey with, especially when they detract from us, hold us back, or take us down a rather shady path. Ultimately, we’re all in charge of ourselves, even if it feels like others are behind the wheel – they’re not, you’re just taking a bit of a hands off approach. When we own our choices, both good and bad, we’re no longer powerless and are in a position to seek alternative solutions and take action because we realise that if we wait around for others, not much is going to be happening. We’ve got to focus our efforts on what we can control – US.My lessons this year have mostly revolved around family (I had to stand firm about my boundaries which meant my mother and I didn’t speak for most of 2010 although Christmas and the engagement has brought a ‘thaw’) and work (I’ve been overwhelmed and very time poor and have had to make uncomfortable decisions and realisations and also set boundaries and expectations with others). One of the things I realise, is that much like in painful times gone by, while it would be ‘easier’ for me to learn without feeling the pain, the experiences and being honest with myself has been 100% worthwhile.

There are no shortcuts.

We want to do the same thing time and again and generate a different result instead of getting uncomfortable, we want to be the exception, we want to love without limits and not have those limits busted. We want to date someone else to feel better about the rejection from another, and we want to numb the pain by immersing ourselves in another relationship or in Other People’s Problems. We want the solution to lie in someone else’s hands, we want it to be someone else’s fault, and we want to attach ourselves to people who are not capable of giving us what we want and somehow magic up a prince or princess and live happily ever after. We want to be cautious, withheld, distant, afraid of being vulnerable, distrusting, fearful, and basically emotionally unavailable and have someone else come along and prove themselves to us so that we can think it’s worthwhile to be different. We want to choose someone based on looks and how much our libido fizzes and then for the values, qualities, and characteristics that we think we need for a relationship to be automatically there. We want to either love without risk or take a punt on a three-legged horse and love and trust blindly.

There is no shortcut. You’ve got to start loving and liking yourself instead of looking for others to fill you up and challenge the very beliefs that are governing your relationship patterns anyway. You’ve got to address your beliefs and how they tie into how you see relationships, love, and yourself, you’ve got to be prepared to go on a Bullshit Diet and be honest with yourself instead of living in lies, and you’ve got to be emotionally available.

You can be and do all of these things. Within each and every one of you is the power to address these things and be different and start living and feeling the life that you want to live. I’m not saying it’s easy but actually it’s a damn sight better and easier than continuing to resist and avoid getting uncomfortable. You know the deal by now – you can keep doing the same thing and expecting different results, but that would be insanity. You also have a back history of experience to draw from that shows that it doesn’t work. If you can’t date or have a relationship without being able to love, trust, respect, and care for yourself with healthy boundaries, always choose you; don’t choose them. Don’t sell yourself short.

There are people finding love at all ages all the time. Someone I know who is in her fifties, divorced, three kids told me recently she could easily have given up especially after the guy she met on dating site didn’t work out and the next load were all imbeciles, but she decided she had nothing to lose by trying again. Eighteen months on, she’s very happy with someone else she met online. I’m no fan of dating sites but I know of a lot of men and women like her that take care of their emotional wellbeing, back away from inappropriate situations, and are prepared to take their time and get on with enjoying their lives in the meantime. Their lives are rounded and they derive their happiness from various sources. The difference – they believe there is healthy love out there for them somewhere in spite of any painful past experiences and they’re prepared to keep learning and take action.

Wishing you all much love, light, and happiness. See you in 2011.

love Nat/NML x

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