These two words resonated deeply when a dear friend said them to me nine years ago. It started my journey of opening up to my feelings and process all that I had kept to myself.
I was still in the closet and very afraid of letting anyone know at the time. She said those words explaining what she was looking for in life. When she spoke those words it felt like a breeze. In that moment I drifted away, dreaming of how wonderful it must be to let go of restrictions and live to what you need and feel. To make decisions for yourself. Obviously while respecting others, but getting closer to your own needs. A sense of inner freedom, felt like peace and calm, a deep connection within. I associated it with the moments I had dressed, and when I had felt wonderful. When I had felt vulnerable, yet full of energy as I had made a decision for me, on what I needed. Not on a material level, but much deeper.
Over the years I have learned that there were many things that have kept me from inner freedom. Like uncertainty about my feelings, shame for who I was and guilt as I had kept it a secret to my wife, to name a few. I thought that inner freedom was an unreachable goal. I had accumulated so much stress, and kept growing it as I let my mind expand on the shame and guilt. In hindsight the pattern was simple. I started to believe I could not tell about me, because I felt I would hurt others, cause grief and people could never accept me for how I felt. All I did was to take me further away from inner freedom and lock myself away. Causing more stress and anxiety.
I found it extremely difficult to break this downward spiral. To stop this inner dialog of feeling you are not worth it. I was pleasing people to keep them close, but was not thinking about myself. Once in a while I would break, and then I would retreat and hide myself and not be available to them. As if I needed to recharge for the next round. I feel wonderful when I can be here for others, but the way I did that, forgetting about myself was not doing me good.
The only way to break that spiral, has been to let others help me reframe what I had taught myself. That the key to inner freedom is not to be found with others, but it is within. It required me to let go of toxic believes that didn’t serve me. Why should I feel guilty about a journey I have been on, to figure myself out? Does it mean that since I figured myself out on a later age, I cannot live my truth? As if the window of opportunity has closed. Why should I feel ashamed of a loving heart and I associate more with being feminine? If others don’t understand, does it than mean I need to hide?
Slowly with the help of dear friends and mentors, I am seeing I am the only one who can create this inner freedom. The heartwarming and loving reactions and support from friends empower me to listen to and show who I really am. To me inner freedom is about accepting yourself, and making decisions to what you need. It is self care, and deciding that you are worth it. It is allowing yourself to blossom, creating space for yourself. Instead of waiting for others, follow your dream. Empower them, by sharing your dream and see if they want to follow. Your truth might not be theirs, and some might decide not to join, or find it difficult.
In giving, I always tried to give people what I think they needed. I started to think for them and that is not helpful. Not for me and not for the other. Slowly I am starting to listen more and give them what I feel in response. Letting go of trying to control my surrounding also helped me get inner freedom. Less time spend on thinking about all the scenarios, and more time spend on listening.
Inner freedom to me is very different from being selfish. Inner freedom is a balance of giving and taking. Caring for others and myself, in a way makes me feel free to make decisions in truth, in a balance with the other. I used to be focused on giving as a way to earn my place. But this was far from a balanced relationship. More and more I am showing what I need. And I am learning to mindfully accept what they give me. That I can make decisions for me, as long as I am mindful of the balance. In the past, if I had planned to go for a walk with a friend but felt tired, I would still go. Now I am telling them I am tired and made decision I should care for myself for a bit. It sounds so simple, but I never did that. I never created that inner freedom to make that decision.
Some people might not like this as they had only experienced me giving. But the ones who do are amazing friends, as they love that I get to my truth. When I came out to my best friend, he was amazed, but immediately after it he told me he felt jealous. Not because I am transgender, but because I had made such a big step in my personal journey.
The risk of sharing this is that you might think I have fully found inner freedom, and that I am living my truth, which I am not. But being mindful about this, I have been able to make more and more decisions that help me to be happy and aligned, and ultimately help reduce stress and anxiety. I believe it helped to work on myself first, before making any decisions about how I want to go forward with my gender identity. When I build my inner freedom, it will be easier to make the right decisions, based on what I truly feel.
Wishing you a wonderful day.