My life was woven for me. Each stitch catching at pieces of who I was and tearing it away from the whole, isolating and losing it in row after row of a programmed me that could sit and behave and be produced to perform when called upon.
My grandparents gave me a very expensive, beautiful cover, that they constructed, to cover up any trace left of me.
I tried to wear it. I tried, at school, to say and do the things the other kids were doing. I tried to involve myself in the same activities and to not see the things that called to me from beyond the shadows and up on the hills and through the wind. I tried to get married, have kids, go to church, be a good Christian, volunteer at school, and bake perfect bread. I did it all. And I did a lot of it well.
Except that I always felt empty. I felt dishonest. I felt like I stood off to the side, watching the me that I was supposed to be performing like a trained circus seal.
When my husband died and I was alone in my bedroom one day, I finally let go of the pain. I would like to say that I surrendered it but that is not accurate. There was so much . . . and it finally just poured out of me and pooled and flowed and filled the room. I felt so lost, so torn from knowing who I was or what my life was even about. I felt betrayed,and lied to, and used. I felt abandoned. I was angry. I pulled at the stitching of my life and gathered all the bits of me from the mesh. I held them to me, raw and bleeding. Someone had to save ME. I have no idea how long I screamed before I even realized I was making any sound. And then the tears came and I cried and screamed for hours. It was, literally, hours. I could not stop myself, and I have no idea where the energy came from. I only know, when I was done, I slept for days.
Somewhere, in the process, after the screaming stopped, and I was left sucking for air in staccatoed hiccups, I saw a brick wall in front of me. It represented my entire life of thoughts and ideas and beliefs that I had built. I symbolically pulled at the bricks one after the other until the wall no longer existed and piles of broken and tumbled bricks lay all around me. I picked up one. It was the belief in God that I had held as a child, before Sunday School. It was the one I had about the being that looked after me when the adults would pull me from my bed, who kept me safe while unspeakable things were done to my body. THAT God was love and forgiveness. It knew me. It loved me.
That was the only brick I chose it keep.
I placed it in front of me.
I lived my life, from then on, clinging only to the one truth, the one belief, I chose. I decided what other bricks I wished to add. I chose only those that fit that first brick and that honoured who I was.
I began to heal.
I found that many of the things and people who had been in my life were mere illusions, fed by the illusion that I was, into a matrix of pretence. There was so little substance. I gave away almost everything I owned. I moved. I took time for me. And even though the judgments and whispers and unkindnesses of others swirled around me, I CHOSE who I was and how I handled that.
Today I seem so far away from who I once was. There is no fairy story how everything was perfect and I lived happily ever after. All of life is a struggle, just some people cannot see beyond that, and some people refuse to focus on that. Struggle inspires some, teaches some, and for some it is a weight hanging around their neck that prevents them from ever doing anything, while for others – it is their excuse. My life has been tough. I don’t see the pain, I see the triumphs. I see that I learned to fight for me. I may never be important to a single other person, but I mattered enough to myself to not give up.
I think that is my job here. I understand that if I can take care of me, that it might inspire others to do the same and in the end, by taking care of, taking responsibility for ourselves, we take care of others. I whole “me” can create and witness and honour. I can contribute and help. I take this as a great responsibility. It is not so much what I will do that will make everyone remember me, but what I remember, what I witness, of everyone. I honour you by seeing you, by adding in positive ways to the moments, seconds, years or lifetimes in which we are allowed to interact with one another. I hope that my life, in the end, is a showcase of all of you who I have met and known.
In the end, finding me, was about seeing others. I see people as they are and love them without ever needing them to be perfect or to do something for me. I love them where they are. I do that because it is what I wanted and needed. I do it because that was my journey back to self. I do that because I trust that God works with each of us to be the best person we can be and my job is not to know what you should do, but to support and encourage the process.
I see you because we all deserve to be seen, and loved.