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To Be Me

Tuscany, I t a l y

I saw an article this morning about vulnerability and how when we hide our feelings it’s usually because as children it was unacceptable to fully express ourselves. That was my experience.

Growing up I was always criticized for being sad, mad, loud…basically for being myself, for being vulnerable and letting it all show. I was told there was nothing to be sad about. No one helped me understand or wanted to understand why I was feeling a certain way.

I was always encouraged not to bother others, not to ask for help, to be perfect, say, do and be the right, quiet, acceptable, well behaved girl I was supposed to be.

God, what a fucking burden; completely exhausting and suffocating!

I shut down all the doorways inside myself that led to wholeness. I stuffed down my anger, sadness, uniqueness and my joy, even! I buried who I truly was! I denied my feelings because they were somehow unacceptable.
I fragmented my spirit to please society and those who birthed me.

I remember living with a feeling of inexplicable grief for so long. There was this internal void; a sadness I couldn’t quite put my finger on.

I know now I was grieving all those abandoned, ignored, suffocated parts of myself. I realized when I was reading that article that I’ve really come so far. I’ve worked so hard on peeling away the layers of imposed perfection. I’m so much better at expressing myself and articulating how I feel now. I’m also a much better listener. I never used to be. I would always interrupt and be nervous about the feedback I would be able to give. Feeling that it would never be adequate. Of course, that always boils down to self worth and not feeling like I’m enough. I had to be perfect to be loved, to receive compliments, to be accepted. Love was based on perfect behavior, a pretty smiling face, a nice outfit, clear skin, doing what I was told, etc.

My parents did the best they could, of course, loving me in the way they knew how, from their own rigid idea of what was right but I never knew who I truly was and I’m on a journey of rediscovering what that is.

I notice this gap in truly knowing myself when it comes to decision making, whether it’s moving countries, choosing what to order from the menu or which direction I’m going to go on a walk. I second-guess myself a lot. In the moments when I do choose quickly it always feels so damn good. I’m learning to tap into my heart, into my internal guidance system, to eliminate outside noise and illuminate inside knowing and just be me.

One of the amazing things about growing up in South Africa was that people are very real and raw and speak up much like New Yorkers. It was different when I moved to California. California was another planet where I dumbed myself down, watched my p’s and q’s and trained myself not to be negative. It was the place I began my spiritual journey but it was also the place that covertly advocated for spiritual bypassing. Such a dangerous and damaging thread runs through many so-called spiritual communities there. But I learned to see it; in others and myself and now I’m coming to the middle. Walking the middle path, looking on both sides of the street. And even though the lessons were many and painful I don’t regret the journey. I feel like I’ve had at least 7 different lifetimes this time around and I’m distinctly and suredly moving into the next.

As I head back to the mother land soon I know there will be more threads to heal, to weave into myself, to make my internal fabric stronger, to exercise my warrior sword, to do things I never thought I would. To leave old dreams behind (for now); to pick up the jewels from so many adventures, journeys, trials and triumphs and honor myself for moulding this crown in which to place them all.