For my friend. You know who you are.
Sometimes, we all lose our way. Sometimes, we put up a facade and pretend to be someone we’re not. It’s not that we’re fake people. We’re fearful people. We’re afraid that we will be judged by others, on any number of topics about our lives. I will not list my fears here, but I will tell you I have faced them recently. I realized that all the perceived judgment by others and the self-induced guilt and shame I carried around was done by me. And me alone. Everyone looking from the outside in was getting a small representation of who I am on the inside. Last week, a part of my past (when I was in my early 20s) came rushing from the back of my brain and slapping me in the forehead. Out of nowhere I began to cry and get upset. The day was beautiful. It was 60 degrees, more or less, and it was a bright fall Saturday. I didn’t have any plans, but I can definitely say it was not on my agenda to sit and dwell on a part of my life that’s been over for more than 10 years now.
Instead of trying to force feed myself some happy-go-lucky mantra, I decided to be brave and to give into the feeling and ride that wave of emotion instead. Fortunately, I had my trusty notebook by my side, so I started writing down everything I was thinking and feeling as it came into my brain. It may shock some people to know that there were some dark thoughts inside of me that have been swimming around for a very long time. (Though, I have come to learn that we all carry that dark side within us every day of our lives. It’s just that we’re masters at tuning it out, pushing it away or distorting it.) I started to sink into a quick depression, and then I heard a little voice somewhere inside of me say, “This is not real. You’re letting it all go, but you have to let it out first. Just hang on, feel it, write it down and then it will pass and be gone forever. Trust me.”
For the first time in my life, I completely gave over control to that higher voice. I trusted her (it? him? who?). I wrote down 6 pages in my notebook and held nothing back. Nothing. I was shocked that everything that took shape there on the page was all the old experiences, mean feelings, judgmental thoughts and cruel lies about myself that I have been carrying around all of these years. My emotional baggage was now in the form of words on a page. Although I have been writing my thoughts down for a very long time, for reasons only known by me, this particular experience that happened to me when I was a young woman at the beginning of her path to adulthood never has come up in discussion. Ever. Not even in my own personal writings. I figured I would just have to live with it and deal with it and pretend that it was behind me. I was afraid to get real even with myself when I was by myself. Yet, once I leaned into that wise voice inside of my head that promised me that it would all go away once I opened up, I felt free. I felt like a healed bird whose wings had once been wounded by a cruel predator. I was ready to walk away from it all and realize that I am more than my facade I have created over the years.
Then, I did the next healing thing I could think of. I went to the park and I walked the mile long trail with my body and face in the sunshine. When I got back to my car, I heard that little voice again tell me, “Grab your yoga mat and go up on that hill. You’ll thank me later.” I opened up the back door, reached in for my purple, junky mat that I’ve had for almost 10 years, and traipsed up the hill as joggers and walkers watched me go off the beaten path and roll out my mat on top of a hill situated in an open space. I practiced a little bit of yoga, and then I sat facing the sun. I closed my eyes and I drank in my newfound freedom.
“You are so much sunshine to the square inch.” -Walt Whitman