As women, we are often placed in a box. We are expected to behave a certain way, look a certain way, express ourselves in a certain way. Telling the truth is not made easy for women, even from woman to woman. The truth is, I am terrified to tell the truth. I am a perfectionist through and through and waking up to my true nature has started to allow me to drop the veil of perfection and be honest about who I really am however, as a baby in this arena, the only person who I have begun to share my truth with is myself. I recently went to a church service and heard an incredible sermon on living out your dream; the main message being if you are the only one who benefits from your dream, then it is not big enough. My dream for this blog is to connect women to each other and how can I do that fully without telling my truth in order for others to feel safe to tell theirs? So here it goes… My first public attempt in being a truth teller.
I am a codependent. If you have ever been through a recovery program or heard about them then you may have an understanding that there are two types of people you will meet in recovery: addicts and codependents. I started to understand more about myself when I joined a friend at an Alanon meeting (Alanon is the sister program to AA specifically geared toward codependents). I went to the meeting in support of my friend and realized as tears streamed down my face, I needed to be there just as much as they did. I left with a new understanding about my need for control and desire to be perfect. These coping strategies I have adopted in my life are simply an attempt to cover up pain. Ultimately, the pain I am trying to avoid is being unlovable. I have an intense fear of being unlovable and this fear has dictated an enormous piece of my life. I began binging and purging in high school in order to be thin and considered beautiful. I wanted to be loved. I drank heavily in college and while living abroad because I needed to numb my crippling fear of social rejection. I wanted to be loved. I used sex as a way to feel wanted by men who had no interest in being with me. I wanted to be loved. I was in an abusive and unhealthy relationship with an alcoholic and addict far from his road to recovery. I wanted to be loved. With years of counseling under my belt and an education and desire to live a healthier lifestyle, I ultimately found my way back to where I feel love- my relationship with God.
I have always been afraid to discuss God with other people because I am afraid of being rejected, questioned, belittled, or unable to express myself clearly. The truth is, I don’t have all the answers. What I know is I am connected to God and that is where I feel love. I believe God is our experience of love in all forms. I believe God is available to us at anytime. I believe we will never fully understand the way God works in our lives, and we are not supposed to. What I know is there is an inner light I can feel when I am truly present and awake as the “Self” I was intended to be. When I feel the need to control my environment and the way in which I am perceived by others, I am not connected to that inner light and suffer. Everyday, I battle my ego- the piece of me that clings to my worldly desires and experiences. In a recent yoga teacher training, I was introduced to the concept of Kaivalya. Kaivalya means ultimate freedom, but at the same time detachment or complete aloneness. I am intensely drawn to this idea of the kind of liberation that is achieved when you are able to detach from worldly matters and be nothing but the light. In truth, I have struggled with my Christian spiritual journey and the way it connects with my yoga experience until I realized they both bring me to the same place, peace and connection to God. I once read a quote that shifted my perspective and helped me realize the two experiences are interrelated, “Prayer is when you talk to God, and meditation is when God talks to you.” YES. It is written, “Be still and know that I AM God.” To be still in meditation is much harder for me than to cry out a prayer with the hope it will be answered in a way I will be able to clearly see and understand. I find this to be true of our basic human nature: it is far easier for us to talk than than it is to listen. This is what makes meditation a much more challenging task for me: to be still is an opportunity to become aware of the consciousness that is, but to be still is also to sit with the truth. Sometimes that truth is sadness. Sometimes the truth is loneliness. Sometimes it is fear. Pain…
For years I have avoided pain. I have battled the grip of anxiety and shock of panic attacks while avoiding the potential for pain. Anxiety is crippling. Anxiety robs you of your light. There have been many nights I lay in bed unable to breathe, feeling as if I am drowning, literally feeling as if I might die. Up until recently, I dealt with that anxiety by trying to become “more perfect” by trying to control the environment to suit my needs. If I could just be _________, everything would be ok; putting on the mask, continuing the crazy cycle. My work now is to keep removing the layers I have piled on over the years. Truth telling is a step towards being my most authentic self, placing what others think of me at risk. I now believe it is worth the risk. After years of research, beginning in college, following me through my master’s degree in Psychology and BCBA, into my life as a wife of a chiropractor, mother of two, and yoga instructor, I am beginning to understand what “letting go” means. Many of my experiences in my health and wellness journey would bring me to this answer, “Let go,” and although I had a picture and understanding of what this looked like, I had no idea how to get there. It was like trying to step into a 2 dimensional painting. I could see its beauty but I couldn’t step in to experience it. Recently, as I have continued my spiritual walk in meditation and prayer something inexplicable shifted. The picture has become 3 dimensional and I am taking my first steps into this new world of color and possibility. It’s scary and comforting all at the same time. It feels as though I am returning home but also navigating through uncharted waters. As I look around at this new landscape, I cannot help but feel the deep gratitude for everyone and everything I have met along the way to help me grow in order to step into this new realm.
The picture has become 3 dimensional and I am taking my first steps into this new world of color and possibility. It’s scary and comforting all at the same time. It feels as though I am returning home but also navigating through uncharted waters.
So there it is, the beginning of truth. My truth. Let’s move through this life speaking our truth and supporting one another to do so in order to love more fully and experience life together as our capital S Self, rather than the faces we hide behind. May you find some courage to shed your masks and show your authentic self. Uncover. Experience the gift of vulnerability. Peel back the layers, no one can see that beautiful heart of yours.