Where do you go to begin the difficult task of healing what’s broken in you and your life? Back, I suppose. Every problem has an origin, and for most of them the only way to obtain a resolution is to first find out what the cause was. Up to date my life has resembled nothing more than a collage. Fragments of memories like tissue paper delicately pasted on a fragile background, that over the years the elements of time have withered edges, they’ve fallen into this empty box called my life, and have become misshapen and undistinguishable. My job is to try and remember what the real picture once was—separating fact from fiction—piece it all together, and create a durable mural of it based at last on the truth. Every one of us was once a young child, who before the pain of criticism and hardship made our hearts weak or callous, believed in fairytale endings, and I was no different. In the beginning I was whole, healthy, and happy. Something changed that…changed me. I need to seek out the child within myself, find out who and what it was that emotionally damaged and crippled her, and tell her that it’s okay to once again believe.
Funny, how it’s so easy for some of us to believe in others, often times even perfect strangers, but so difficult for us to believe in ourselves. It seems almost impossible to separate fact from fiction, especially when surrounded by naysayers. You find yourself questioning and trying to distinguish what it is that you know about yourself, versus what others have been telling you. This has been hard for me. I grew up feeling like I had to become someone else in order to fit in—something that was impossible to do—and the result was that I failed at being not only who I really was, but also the person that I sought to be. The person I created fell somewhere in between the two, and of course was no where near the individual that I wanted to present to my family, friends, or the world. This personality being miserably disfigured like the view I already had of myself. Unfortunately, when you live this lie for so long you begin to think, act, and feel like the person you’ve invented. The fine line between the truth and the lie begins to get blurred and it’s hard to remember the real you.
Who am I? This simple question begins the quest. Who was I before others told me who they thought I should be? What did I enjoying doing, what music did I enjoy listening to, what literature did I enjoy reading, and what kind of people did I find intellectually stimulating before someone else forced me to alter my perceptions with their opinions about what was appropriate, what was trendy, or what they themselves would do? I find for me some of the answers are easy to recognize. Away from prying eyes and judgment I played house with my real self. I would indulge in my passion for cooking and baking, listen to the old music that I enjoyed, wear the feminine, floral dresses I kept hanging hidden in the back of my closet, and surrounded myself with country décor and antiques I loved so much. Is it any wonder why I never allowed most people to come to my home, but rather always said that my home was where I lived, and the outside world was where entertaining should be? I found it hard to explain how this woman who cussed like a trucker, wore Harley attire, bore tattoos, listened to southern rock, shot pool, and drank straight whiskey at the bar could have a completely different side, one that included writing poetry. And when one of my close friends would enlighten others to this side of me when someone would mistakenly refer to me as a hard-core bitch, I found it difficult to defend myself, or even acknowledge that a softer side did indeed exist. Most times it didn’t matter for they were sure my friend was just “blowing smoke up their asses”, as they would put it. Yes, they made jokes that it was highly unlikely I could ever win a Betty Homemaker award. Little did they know that was probably far closer to the truth than anything I allowed them to see. These people, their opinions, I’m ashamed now that I even needed their acceptance to validate me.
I admit I’m complex. Today it’s a lot easier for me to accept this, rather than defend it. I see it as a positive trait; one that makes me more interesting. One thing I’ve never been accused of is having predictable behavior, and that’s okay, because I wouldn’t want to be considered the ‘norm’, or be like anyone else. Before I picked up the labels that have defined who I was: Wife, mother, friend, someone’s employee, etc…I was just me. And from what I can remember of that little girl, I really liked her. Lately I’ve glimpsed her in the mirror. Although her blue eyes aren’t as wide and innocent as they once were, they’re starting to get the light back into them as they peer back at me through parted, blonde bangs; the pale, freckled skin not as taut, but still resembling my younger self. I’m excited now as to what she and I together are going to discover about our self. And I suppose this is where the real story begins.