This was a prison of mine for a great part of my life. The walls of that prison have been crumbling for years as truth truly has set me free! The feeling of having no value is a black, sticky, life sucking lie that can incapacitate your health, destroy your joy and annihilate hope... keeping you from truly loving yourself or others. It leads you down a path of false living, tiptoeing around in hopes to keep everyone happy and loving your facade.
Be true to yourself! Shakespeare was on to something! Once you begin to allow yourself to be YOU, no matter if others understand you or accept you, your true self and your life will begin to blossom. If you're eccentric... Be Eccentric! If you're quiet and love your solitude...do not apologize for being so! If you're Both... Its OK! Honor the person you are and stop living in fear of others... 9 times out of 10... THEY have the same issue and are merely requiring you to be what is comfortable to them!
As a child I was a free spirit who spoke what was on her heart, fearing no one. Often I was corrected for my exhuberous outbursts having grown up in the "Children should be seen and not heard" era. I distinctly recall one time when I was around ten. My parents and I were at a company outing. I was sitting with the adults as that is where I always felt most comfortable. I don't recall what was said, but I made a comment inside the adult conversation. I can only imagine that I tread on sacred territory without permission. It was probably something a bit witty, as that is who the real me is. What I do recall was my father turning to me with "those eyes" and I knew I was in deep doodoo. Later, on the way home, I got the tongue lashing of my life! I remember being crushed to the core and vowing I would never speak again. Of course I did, but it was never the same. I became very fearful of saying the wrong thing...causing embarrassment or discomfort to others or to myself.
From that point on (to a much later time in life) I can honestly say I began wearing a facade, thinking the true me was not to be trusted or appreciated. I was convinced that I needed to find a comfortable mask or masks that others would be comfortable with also. This led down a very long arduous road. Every mask I chose to wear was just another lie, just another facade, just another clown and every mask brought with it... another layer of fear. All for the sake of being accepted by others. I literally had become a chameleon! I became a great follower. Friend to anyone who would have me, which was not necessarily a healthy way to pick your friends. I became a doormat and I said "I'm sorry" way too many times. It was a spiraling journey of self pity, self doubt, fear of others, loneliness, deep sorrow, jealousy, envy and lack of any hope of things being ever being different. I felt like a prisoner in my own skin...but felt like only I could hear my screams for help...as others told me to pull up my big girl panties and deal with it.
It was not until I was in my late thirties and had passed through a serious valley of 10 years suffering with clinical depression that I realized what my life had been based on. And even upon the emerging out of that valley I only knew this... My life at that time had been based upon lies. With this knowledge and the acceptance of this knowledge I was able to break the spell of depression...but I still had a long row to hoe in recognizing what those lies actually were and having the wherewithal to find the truth and accept it.
Now, 20 years later, I cannot say I have achieved complete wholeness, but I can say I am more aware of who I really am and therefore I can tell when I'm not being true to that! In the banking business they say to really know a counterfeit bill you must first study the real bill until you know it so well that when you hold a counterfeit it is immediately recognized. The same in true in discovering our true selves. So for the past 20 years or so I have in bit and pieces discovered the real person that I was created to be. Allowing for her to emerge into a safe and non judgmental place within my own body, as I had even become fearful of my own judgement. This was probably the most difficult thing to do as many of you know, we can be very cruel to ourselves. (a whole other subject for another day)
Throughout this period of emergence there have been extreme highs where confidence was through the roof and just as extreme lows where I felt I was having to start all over again. One of the greatest things that has come from this time has been the ability to recognize depression in a split second. I can smell it creeping my way and have literally felt the need to verbally tell it, you are not welcome here. I recall so clearly one day, after having my feelings hurt very deeply by a friend at the time, crawling into bed and pulling the covers over my head. I remember thinking, "I might as well just return to the dark place as no one understood me anyway." The second I said this I heard a voice in my head say... "Ok, you may choose to go back, but plan on staying there. Or you can get up and get downstairs in the kitchen!" (I know that sounds strange but its what I heard!) I only took a half second to contemplate my options before throwing the covers off and running downstairs to the find myself standing in the middle of my kitchen! It was small steps like these that have helped me stand on my own two feet. To honor the real me and not fall back into my old habits of hiding behind masks, and in this case, bed covers, in order to deal with the thoughts or opinions of another person. It takes effort on my part to make a conscience decision to not just suck it up or pull up your big girl panties, as some would tell me, but a conscience decision to be tender with myself and remember that I have value, no matter what anyone else says, does, or acts like.
"The greatest prison people live in, is the fear of what other people think." What I want to express here is its not just the depressed who have experienced this prison, that was just an experience of mine. But there is a huge amount of us, of all walks of life, perhaps even the majority of us that have lived or are living inside this prison, some not even knowing they are or that there is a way out. The key to exiting this massive, life sucking prison, is Love. I know, sounds too simple or even a bit on the satirical...but it's True... Its THE TRUTH! By first accepting acknowledging to yourself you have been dependent on this approval of others you open yourself up to being true to yourself and loving and honoring the spirit within. You are no longer dependent on the acidic pablum of needing the approval of others and are more willing to love them with truth and Love. When you choose Love, the doors swing wide open and it can be a bit scary at first as you walk through those prison gates. The path of freedom is always going to have rocks, potholes, and even quicksand...but keep on trusting, keep your heart open, seek a heart of Love, seek the truth about who you are, stop seeking the approval of others (even in the small things), remove the masks and recognize that your inner critic is only trying to hide you from the truth that already is.
Yes, I'm still learning, still allowing, still emerging, even at the ripe old age of 57. And I intend to continue doing so. I'm not saying in any of this that its ok to stomp on others with your new found freedoms and look the other way saying: well thats just me or who I am... No... I'm speaking of finding Love. Loving yourself first creates a capacity of loving others anyway. What I mean by that is no matter what the others say, no matter what they throw your way, You, respond in Love. Most of the time we are "throwing" at others because we are having a hard time, loving ourselves. And so knowing this, it almost makes life a little more bearable, knowing that not only you are learning this valuable life lesson, but there are multitude of others at differing stages of the same path. As I have said, I am far from through, but this is who I really am and I desire more than ever to allow myself to BE ALL that I was created to be. Witty, Wise, Funny, Creative, but most of all, Loving.
You are Love! We are Love! Created in Love, by Love and for Love. That is our core. Anything other than that is false. Love exists within. Like the banker studies the real bill to recognize the counterfeit, study your true self, don't ask others what they think, trust that your true self is enough. As you do, you will know when the dependent need for others approval raises its ugly head. The counterfeit will be exposed and disposed as you seek the truth in Love.
So here's my true confession. Even as I write these words, a battle rages within. "Who do you think you are to write on such a heavy subject?" "What about those who will not agree with what you wrote?" "You didn't mention anything about your faith here." "You're going to lose friends over this!"
and so on and so on... See I still battle the lies... But I know this one thing, I know from where this message comes... it comes from my own experiences in Life... my own discovery of my real self... my own heart of Love that wishes to share that same Love with others. I'm confident in that Love and that Love only...therefore I can confidently share this message with you.
May we all walk free of the fear of what others think and be true to ourselves and recognize that We ARE Love!
Photo and Quote Credit: Michael Baisden on FaceBook
Photo and Quote Credit: www.Queenofyourownlife.com and Queenisms tm