|I Am Me|
When I was a pregnant teenager in 1979, I took on the shame that society was only more than willing to dole out. I no longer took into consideration all the good things I had done/did in my life ~ it was the "bad" I had done that I used to define my life. I took on the secrecy of shame. I thought that if anyone knew the "real" me ~ the me that *gasp* had sex at 15, became pregnant, then gave my baby away ~ they wouldn't like me. Or worse yet, that they would hate me or think me to be a mean, uncaring person.
I was already a "people pleaser", I already was one to avoid confrontation due to the crazy family life I was growing up in. The shame of being an unwed mother who gave a child up for adoption just deepened this in me. I set out to only show people the "nice" side of me. To prove that after all, I REALLY WAS a good girl!
The only time I felt that I could truly be myself was when I was with my life-long friend that I grew up with, as well as with a few girls we became friends with after I returned to high school after Christopher was born. They all knew, understood, and loved me ~ the REAL me ~ even though... no matter what. Until recently, it was only when I was with this wonderful group of friends that I could really be myself, that I could let down all my walls and just be.
|My friends & I ~ The Fab Five|
Changing who I was, who I let people think that I was, sadly wasn't limited to my teenage years. I continued that into adulthood. When my children were little I was the PTA volunteer, treasurer, president. I was the go-to person for the school & teachers when they needed someone to do anything extra. I wasn't a failure as a mother because I gave up my firstborn child, I was a wonder-mom to my raised kids. At least that's the persona I took on when dealing with their schools. 12 years ago when my husband moved us to this tiny village where he grew up, I became The Church Lady. The church lady who was always ready and willing to help with the funeral dinners, to teach CCD, any and everything that needed a volunteer. I wasn't the stupid 15 year old who didn't know how to say no, who gave her child up for adoption. I was a GOOD person damn it!! I would have been mortified if any of my small-town friends, fellow church goers, my hubbies family who has lived here for generations, would have seen me being myself with my girlfriends. Oh the horrors if they had seen me being the loudest laughing one in the group. If they had seen me enjoying some Cap'n and talking way too much and way too loudly. If they heard us talking nasty or sometimes cussing like sailors ...
I no longer compartmentalize all the parts of my personality. From the beginning of this journey of finding myself, I have tried to live an authentic life. I'm still working on that, but Brene Brown and her wonderful website Ordinary Courage has helped me begin. I stumbled onto an old post of hers the other day, and as I read these words:
Part of midlife is scooping up all the different versions of yourself that you’ve created to please folks, and integrating them into one whole, authentic person. This is tough work for me. I’m so good at assessing exactly who I need to be and when I need to be it. It’s really too bad that "alternating" eventually sucks your soul right out of your body...they made me realize how much I used to do that. I also realized just how much my life has changed these last three years. Three years ago I was the champion chameleon! Now?
In addition to curbing the chameleon action, the other part of integrating has been the very painful process of reconnecting with the parts of myself that I orphaned over the years. You know – the parts of ourselves that we abandon because they get in the way of who and what we need to be now.
I am a million different things.
At a million different times.
I am ME.
I am me with no apologies!