Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Unexpected Honesty (Authenticity)

There is a huge, I mean H-U-G-E event going on this month all over Blogland called 31 Days of Change.  I mean it's this kind of big: there are 746 different ones to choose from.  Holy Blogging, Batman!!  Here's a link to the full list.  In essence, each of those blogs has undertaken a challenge to write 31 tips, one each day this month, to help someone else improve their life.  With 746 to choose from, you're bound to find one or two that are perfect for you!

I've been following Organizing Made Fun's 31 Days to {Cheaply} Organize your Home which I've enjoyed in spite of already being a regular reader.  There's several others, but this is the one I wanted to write about:

I happened to find Faith Barista's 31 Days to Feed Your Soul through the list of topics and blogs, and I'm so glad I did--my soul does need feeding!  One of my favorite art journal pieces is titled "struggling to hear the whispers of my soul."  I've really enjoyed each day's topic, but as with any series, one is special to me, as if written directly to me from the Lord when I need His guidance:
Feed Your Soul :: { Day 5 } When You Can’t Fall Apart (Grace For The Good Girl Book Giveaway) hit very close to my heart, following right along with my choice to be more authentic in my life; this is me, to a T:
I managed life, managed myself, and hid my emotions.
When you don’t allow yourself to fall apart, something slowly happens.  Your heart becomes sensitized to your inadequacies and the fear of people not liking you.

You stop taking risks.  Your world becomes smaller and dreams become a distant memory.
Do you know, even in this daily journey I'm on, to be real, authentic, and not let perfectionism or the shame of not being perfect ruin my life, I never recognized the truth of these words.
My world has indeed become very, very small.  I don't take risks.  I'm so positive that people will not like me that I don't even try anymore.  My dreams and goals have been whittled down to almost nothing....  

This breaks my heart: I realized, the last few weeks but especially the past few days, that one of my BIG dreams, one that I've imagined for myself and my family since before I had a family, was to spend a week at Yellowstone National Park.   I've watched documentaries on the wildlife, the history of the park, how it was our 1st National Park....  I know all kinds of useless but fun facts about it.  

I was close to the Park itself back in 1999, with a different husband and no plan for children, we were in Jackson Hole, Wyoming on a business trip and drove through the Grand Tetons. It was close enough to whet my appetite, to plant the seed of a dream vacation in a place where some of God's best work is on display.  But.....
The Truth: it's not going to happen.  For many reasons, all too personal to even write about in this very personal blog, but it's just not going to happen.  I feel like a part of my soul has died with this realization.  I'm  trusting (well, trying to) that God has some purpose for me, but right now, I'm simply broken inside.  Your world becomes smaller and dreams become a distant memory.

I've posted earlier that my husband's birthday is this month, and his dad has planned a party, (albeit without consulting me first....) and I can tell you now that I will not be there.  I know myself, I know where I am emotionally inside enough to know that if even a phrase is spoken with an un-intended tone, it will break my heart and may sever my already-too-thin ties completely with extended family.  Your heart becomes sensitized to your inadequacies and the fear of people not liking you.

My absence will be noticed, most likely misconstrued as ill feelings towards his family, and may have long-term effects that I'll regret.  Jason has already let his dad know I won't be there, and..,well, it's hard for anyone in my husband's very-social family to understand me....

The truth: I can craft until the cows come home; I can create something cute/useful/"artful" out of just about anything, but in the end, nothing has changed.  To use the phrase from this article, I'm too concerned with not losing it, with keeping these nasty fear-based based emotions hidden inside, to be able to let myself fall-apart.  But the REAL truth is that everyone else DOES see it, they DO know, and everyone except ME knows I HAVE fallen apart.

Anyway, I wrote this in the comments on this article, and this is what I wrote--it surprised me what emotions I was feeling....  I'm ending my blog entry here, so the rest of this was written in response to the Good Girl article.

This past summer, I read "I Thought It Was Just Me, But It Isn't", a book about perfectionism and this drive women like me have to ALWAYS have this "perfect face" out for the world to see, when inside we are so ashamed of feeling imperfect that it ruins all the joy in our lives.  I highly recommend it!

Feeling the pressure to be "a good girl" is something I've felt my entire life.  As a child of divorce in the early 80s, one of a generation of "latch-key kids," I grew up torn between being perfect for mom, being perfect for dad, being perfect at school, and failing miserably at all of it.  I didn't realize then that my parents problems, the cause of their divorce and the ensuing acrimony, was about them and their relationship, and had nothing to do with me.  Only as an adult, and being a parent has given me further insight, can I see how much of my childhood I wasted trying to be what no one BUT me expected: the perfect daughter, girl, student, sister, friend.

I so wish I could go back in time and hug that little girl, and let her know that she's free to play, to get messy, to laugh too loud with friends and to make mistakes.  God's Perfect Sacrifice had already been made, I didn't need to fulfill that role within my family.

I'm very much enjoying your 31-day series, and I'll be looking for Ms. Freeman's book.  Thank you for this outlet as well, I'm surprised at these emotions--I didn't realize that I still felt this way.
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