Over the past year or 14 months, I have been going through a dramatic change personally. It’s hard to put into words exactly, but this song by Lauren Daigle says it well:
I’ve been an actor on a stage
Playing a role I have to play
I’m getting tired, it’s safe to say
Living behind a masquerade
No more performing out of fear
I’m trying to keep my conscience clear
It all seems so insincere
I have been reading a couple of books that changed things for me and made me aware of how little of me was real. I ended up questioning everything – relationships, family connections, my faith – all of it. What was real and what was learned behaviour?
The book, Present over Perfect was the catalyst as I began to realise how many masks I had perfected over the years, to the point where I no longer knew who I really was and what my values were. In my quest to be acceptable and belong, I learned how I was supposed to behave and react and even feel – this is what a daughter does or what a sibling does. This is how an employee is supposed to be. This is how a friend should be.
I learned things about myself – some good, some not so nice – and began to own my truth. It is hard to face up to the fact the a to of your life has been built on lie. I came to understand that I had been spent the best part of my existence ashamed- of who I am, of what was in my past. I thought if people really knew me and my past they would walk away so I successfully kept people at arms length.
The second book was The Choice by Edith Eger. I learned that I have built a prison for my self with all the walls I put up. In an attempt to be safe, I was merely surviving and not living. Every single day we are faced with a myriad of choices. We are free to choose how we react, behave etc. But we are not free from the consequences of our choices. I learned about forgiveness and this set me on a path of forgiveness that has been life changing.
This has lead to a journey of personal discovery that has been painful at times, but so incredibly freeing in that I no longer need my masks. All my personnas are merging into one that is real. Are there things I wish I could change? Sure. But I am learning to forgive myself and all those from my past that did me harm. I am getting better at stopping the past from intruding into my present. I no longer believe the PTSD is a life sentence – I can live without the constant fear and anxiety that has been my companion for decades.
Things that used to be so important to me, no longer are. The future does not look like I thought it would but I know I will be ok.
I could not have got to this stage alone and am so thankful for my tribe – people who have stood by me, encouraged, prayed for, admonished, cajoled, taught; for those who have given me new skills in place of the ones I had relied on to survive. I know I am so different now and am thankful for the help I have received along the way. Truly life is better together. I am no longer closed and am letting people into my life and heart. I have a ways to go, but am looking forward to thriving knowing I am not alone as I take each baby step to health.