If you like that me will you like this me?

Words: Meron Medhanie
Visuals: OPhir El-Boher

What happens when you choose to connect with your self?

You risk losing connections with the people you love.

Or at least, that’s what fear tells me.  

Fear is here to keep us safe from the rejection, loss and disappointment that we may face in the world.  

But in the process of protecting my self from the world, I lost, rejected and shamed my self.

I recently began fiercely choosing my connection with my self over everyone. You see, I’m fighting to protect the 6-year-old Meron, the 17-year-old Meron, the 20-year-old Meron, the 22- year-old Meron, the 26 year-old-Meron, the 29-year-old Meron and all the Merons in between that aren’t tied to milestone moments of being stolen. Of giving my self, identity, body, esteem, to someone else. To the opinions of someone else.  

"Whenever we submit our will, because our will is a gift, it is given to us, so whenever we submit our will to someone else's opinion, a part of us dies." - Lauryn Hill

Death lives inside of me.

Many parts. Chiseled over time, as my trust in others overrode my trust in my self. And slowly, quietly, painfully, hacked at parts of me that are not accepted by others died while I fed parts of me that are accepted.

There is a distorted snapshot of who I am, which really is disproportionate. One side that’s hidden, non-existent and malnourished, that never had a chance to grow. The other is oversized and immaculate. But when you see the whole thing together, it’s a dire situation, in need of healing.  

What happens when you choose connections with others over your self?

You create relationships based on a lie.  

No one knows who I am and what I believe in because I haven’t fully shared my self. Because I haven’t fully explored my self. Because I haven’t chosen to connect with my self.  

I wonder why people call me a best friend when I don’t feel the same way. It could be because I have high uncommunicated expectations of what a best friend should be. I deceive people I love, including my self, without even knowing it.

Because I learned early and quickly, what to say to make others happy, and what not to say to avoid backlash. I have skillfully lived my life without rocking the boat, over-thinking and carefully calculating what to say and how to say it - most times, choosing not to say anything at all.  

Short cuts.  

You don’t need short cuts when you know people. When you love and trust them. Yet, I’ve used them as cues to help me show up as the person I think they want me to be. AND to not have to work so hard to listen to the nuances of each situation. Short cuts have allowed me to not fully be present. To not rock the boat. To be deceptive. And short cuts have pissed people off who expect more of me.

I watched how people in my life treated others and decided to hide the parts of me that were being talked about, so that I wouldn’t be a target. I knew where they stood and decided to keep myself safe by not saying anything. I didn’t want to be rejected the same way they rejected others.  

Which is totally unfair because it discounts how much that person loves me and doesn’t take into account how that person doesn’t have a relationship with who she’s talking about.

It also robs her of really knowing me and the opportunity to look at things differently because it’s coming from me.

I totally and completely underestimate and play myself and others, not giving either of us a chance.  

What if connection with your self and connection with others can co-exist?

You will realize how abundant and available connection is. That its possibilities are limitless and that connection is not one to be rationed, but one to be given freely.  

In a black and white, ‘either/or’ mentality, connection with my self is on one side of a seesaw while connection with others is on the other side. And it takes an incredible amount of strength and precision to feel balanced.  

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But in a ‘yes, and’ mentality, that lives in a world of color, connection begins with my self, then radiates out to the people in my life, then radiates out to the world. There’s an order and the firsts in line are most sacred, which allows me to have enough and then some for the next.  

When I can see my self, I am able to see others. When I can connect with myself, I can authentically connect with you.  

The desperation to connect, to fit in, to have relationships has turned me into who I think people want me to be vs. who I really am.  

I’m no longer choosing who to be as a form of self-protection, or deception. I am connecting to who I truly am. So when I show up for you, it’s real.  

Meron Medhanie is a writer, strategist, empath and creative manager.