I am the youngest of six children, am female, was born in Sierra Leone, West Africa, and emigrated to the UK aged seven. I grew up wanting to be liked, to be the good girl and to be accepted. I always looked outside myself for validation and really did not have a sense of who I was.
I, and my two brothers and sisters, grew up in a tiny village in North Wales with a Welsh family. Even as a child I remember trying to please my mum, gain her attention, and be loved more. As I grew into adulthood many expectations were placed on me from both my two families (Welsh and African), and I embraced them. I became the dependable one, the good daughter, the one that was unable to say ‘No’, even when asked to do something that was not in my best interest. I put the needs of others before my own. I wanted to be liked, loved and accepted. As I did this, I slowly lost my sense of self.
Through Universal Medicine I learned the importance of knowing and validating myself. Confidence came from within. I learned that being needy, and wanting to be accepted and recognised by others, disregarded myself. The most important learning for me was that I accept and love myself fully.
This pattern of behaviour was so entrenched that it took a while before I could see and feel it for myself. Every time I did not choose for me, I felt the impact in my body. Meanwhile, I realised that situations and relationships would stay the same, or worsen, until I changed.
An example of this is my relationship with my father. For many years since Mum died and even through his second marriage, I’ve felt responsible for him. When his second wife died of Alzheimer’s six years ago, I was there to support him and visited him regularly. Although I believed that he needed me, the truth was that I needed to be needed and to have a role in his life. Focusing on my Dad meant I didn’t have to look at myself. The more I thought I was helping Dad, the more needy he became of me. I created a situation of mutual neediness.
Through Universal Medicine I learnt that my first responsibility was to myself. Once I saw that my relationship to Dad was not truly loving, I began change the way we related to each other so we became equal, free-standing adults. I was more open with him about my life. I talked to him about what he wanted for himself. I helped him get the support he needed from local professionals and they took over his caring responsibilities with my assistance.
I visited him less. He moved into a residential care home. The remarkable thing is that when I stepped back from being responsible, other family members who lived locally stepped forward. The relationship I have with him is now more honest and balanced. He accepts that I’m not always going to be able to see him (he lives in North Wales). I no longer have the feeling of obligation. I feel free, he feels free.
This pattern of putting others first has almost been erased. It doesn’t mean I don’t care or love friends and family, in fact my relationships are now ‘cleaner’ and healthier. My first reference is of course myself. I have now placed myself in the picture – previously I was absent.
I matter, and take full responsibility for my life. This has been an amazing step forward.
by Kehinde, London, U.K.