August 18, 2012

Fear & Truth & Waking Up

I've had something akin to this post floating around my brain for a very long time. I've been afraid to write my story. Afraid that I might offend someone. Maybe afraid to allow the abstract mess to become concrete and tangible. Afraid. I think I've been afraid to let it all go and to embrace all that I really love and all that brings me joy and to really go all out in my own skin. I'm beginning to realize just how afraid I've been. If I'm honest with myself, I've based a whole lot of my choices on fear. I would have told you in a heartbeat that I wasn't a people-pleaser, and I had no problem telling people the truth and spouting off a bunch of bullshit about living as your true, authentic self. Which may have led people to think that I was living that way. Mmhmm. While I do believe we are all meant to live freely, with our own gifts and joys, how could I have possibly been living as my true self when I needed validation for just about everything? Things like my decorating choices, wardrobe choices, my hobbies, my beliefs, my career choices. If friends didn't like colors I chose or thought something looked goofy, a healthy person would probably say, "okay" and then proceed to do whatever they wanted to do. Not me - I was so locked in my little fear prison that I would be crushed, and I would choose to do something different than what I really loved. You might think, design, color, clothes? What's the big deal? We all like a little encouragement or approval. But it was so much more.  

My fear of living my own desires and likes and what made my heart happy, even if no one else in the whole world approved, kept me unfulfilled. If I ever had the notion that someone, anyone, was mad at me or disapproved of something I did, inside I was a wreck until I made sure the air was clear and everything was a-ok. Can I tell you how many times I asked my husband if he was mad at me?! He is the most loving, gracious man in the world, but I was like a scared little puppy. At the same time, I'm a very strong-willed, won't-take-no-for-an-answer kind of girl. If there's something I really want to do, I'm going to make it happen. Like when my mom told me not to try out for the fifth grade chorus, because what if I didn't make it, and I would be disappointed? Yes, that would be tragic to learn a valuable life-lesson about disappointment. But alas, I missed out on that life-lesson opportunity, because I tried out anyway, and I made it! I remember going out for ice cream with the fam after our big performance. Or like the time much later, when I told my parents I was going to spend my college summer break with an organization in Colorado and I would be traveling abroad. Oh, and a minor detail - I would need to raise 5,000 dollars. My dad: "Where are you going to get 5,000 dollars?" A valid question, but that was it. I don't really remember any excitement or encouragement or anything along the lines of tell me more about this group. Let's think this through to make sure it's a wise decision. Turns out it was a great decision. I went back the next summer to help a lead a team, too! You can see how this being afraid to really live plus my will to truly live equalled quite a bit of internal confusion. 

Recently, a friend told me she feels like she is alive for the very first time. My heart loved those words, because I feel like for so long I lived inside a huge ice block. I could see everything around me, but there was always a thick, clear wall between me and the rest of the world. No matter which direction I looked, the wall was there. I was watching everyone else live, but I could never fully connect. Imagine always being on the outside, peering through a window seeing a party that you weren't invited to. That is how I felt about life for a very very long time. Apart. Not part of the group, whatever the group might have been at any given time. Because when you are surrounded by a wall, or an ice block, or what have you, you can't really connect. And you can't really let anyone in. It's solitary confinement. I've had some amazing experiences, pushed through my wall to make some wonderful things happen in my life, and created some great memories. But the see-through wall was always there. Even when I was with people who really did love me.

Just how did I get this way? There's a lot I've been processing lately over the past fourteen years. Still, I've had these wounds that I could talk about, and I could tell you about a less-than-ideal childhood, but I couldn't totally pinpoint the problem. Thus, a cloudiness of things just not being right when I thought about my past. There was hurt, but a lot of it was abstract. I've started seeing a therapist, and you know what? The more concrete my swimming feelings and memories and thoughts and wounds and questions become, the more I'm able to take hold of them, and when I take hold of something, I'm able to really see it, and then open my grip and let it go. And when I let something go that has wounded me for so long, it's grip on me goes. It's all a very freeing process. I still have a lot to walk through, but the ice is melting, and I'm waking up, and GOOD NEWS! I really like me! Like, I really like me, and I don't care if you don't. And I don't care if what I do to my house meets your standards of what's acceptable or expected. And I'm starting to feel like I can really connect with people, and like the last vestiges of the walls that have separated me from my husband and my children and my friends are on their way out. I'm starting to feel alive and awake and free. Free to love and to live and to dance and to pretty much do whatever I damn-well please. I'd say please excuse my french, but guess what? I don't care if it bothers you!

This is all very good timing, because in a few days, I'll be jumping into a huge fun splish-splashy puddle of learning at home with my girls. I'm super-excited, because the curriculum I chose is very hands-on, nature-filled, encouraging of exploration and imagination and discovery. And what in the world does this have to do with my ice wall melting and me waking up? Everything.

The people behind this curriculum truly get children and life in a way that I haven't seen many other places. When I read what these people write, I feel like all of the beauty and wonder and laughter and love and potential that surrounds us and that I see in my girls every day is drawn on paper with beautiful words. Here's an example from one of their books:
Learning how to "draw out" that inner being hidden within each child is our primary concern as parents. There are several means whereby we can accomplish this feat, but we should be aware from the beginning that the task we are approaching is tantamount to the feat of young Arthur, as he drew the sword out of the stone. It is not a task to be accomplished easily. Drawing out the inner being of the child into conscious manifestation requires more than strength, more than subtlety, and can be accomplished through no less of a price than our own transformation. In effect, if we wish to save our children, we must lose ourselves in the process.
If this prospect sounds too ominous, we need only remember that the "self" we will be losing is only the shadowy image composed of our fears and self-imposed limitations. As we become aware of these fears and limitations we begin to transcend them, and gradually find ourselves awakening, as if from a dream, into a realization of our own true nature, our own "inner being." As we begin to demonstrate more fully who we are, our children will likewise begin to rise above their limitations and express more fully their own unique strength, wisdom and beauty.
When I read this, my heart smiled a really big smile. This is exactly where I am - "losing only the shadowy image composed of our fears and self-imposed limitations." Learning to live freely. And I as I choose to heal and live fully and freely, I am empowering my two amazing little girls to embrace a life of wholeness. Thank God, I decided to go down the windy, bumpy, wonderful road of real living, just in time to take my girls' hands in mine and skip down that road together. Here's to looking ahead, and liking what we see on the horizon!

Do you like my post? Can you leave me a really affirming comment? JUST KIDDING!

3 comments:

  1. Thanks so much for sharing this Carol....so glad the Lord is opening this door for you in your life. I look forward to seeing how He works in you more and more each day!

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  2. Rock on, girlfriend!!!! SO proud of you.

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  3. Vincent van Gogh once said,"If you hear a voice within you say,'You cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced."

    It is so liberating when we can support our life decisions fully. Life *IS* what we make of it. We do have control over our own life, and we gain strength from the struggles we have won...we gain wisdom from our experiences. We gain joy from the love within our own heart.

    Each of us has our own life journey and not one of us is perfect. That realization alone can be the most beautiful, healing discovery of all.

    Cheering for you, Carol!
    Carey

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