When I discover who I am, I’ll be free.
~ Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man

Yesterday’s phone therapy went well. We talk every 2wks, so i caught her up on the week long bender, followed by this last week of doing fairly well and continuing the work. She told me i only lasted about half an hour our last appointment, and most of that was silence. When i told her i was sorry about that, she said, “Sometimes a person just needs to know that someone is there, ready to catch and to comfort.”
I’m so glad i kept looking for the right person to work with.
I’d never have gotten this far without her (or someone a helluva lot like her).

Marking my progress feels good and is important, but it’s not eliminating my current issues. My anxiety is still high, and i’m wrestling with anger, too. It can be hard for me when people do things i wouldn’t do, or think things i don’t think. I find it threatening. It’s hard to overcome. I aligned myself with my abusers in order to stay relatively sane. I believed what they believed and tried to think like they thought. This practise, as with so many others that i’d affected to survive, followed me into my adulthood, long after the abuse had passed. And it plagues me even after eliminating the subsequent danger of extended family associations.

Learning to be myself started with learning to think for myself. My husband was the first person who ever gave me the freedom to figure things out on my own. And when he thought differently he wouldn’t argue – totally foreign to me. He didn’t tell me i was wrong, he didn’t even raise his voice or look at me like i was stupid. No arrogance or sarcasm! I’d never been treated with such respect. I stopped shouting and doubling down. There was no point because he never bought in. He was simply not invested in group think. Group think was my primary way of operating. I’d adopted it first to avoid abuse and try and find safety, and later because i was trying so hard to find a place where i belonged.

I had no idea how to suss what i thought about stuff. How was i supposed to know when i didn’t even know myself? I started by listening to a lot of philosophical points of view, which is bloody exhausting. There were times it felt like they were breaking my brain. But from that i learned a very effective way to seek truth and understanding is skeptical thinking. I still have a lot to learn about how to apply it properly, but issokay, i’m learning about who i am, what i think, and how to think, all at the same time. I usually try to avoid tall orders, but i’ve found these things are intertwined. Because they are, i can work on one thing, and the other 2 just sort of hitch a ride.

I’m peeling back layers, i’m carving the marble, i’m poring over all the books. I’m writing a one-woman show, starring me. These things are all lovely and poetic, full of romance and promise and joy. The scary thing for me is that i’m defining myself away from people. As i discover who i am, so too do i realise who i’m not. I’m not you. Or you or you or you or anyone else. And that might seem like a big DUH! to anyone reading this, but it is a very big and very scary thing to me. I allied myself with the group i was in as a way of hiding. People who’ve known me might be shocked at that, because my personality has been, ah, rather animated and loud and bold. But it wasn’t truly me – well, not ALL me. Some of it was a completely unconscious affectation based on years of behaviour that arose out of a need to fit in, in order to stay safe and survive. My mother expected me to be gregarious and entertaining, and it stuck. I do like it, and it is a genuine part of me, but the abuse and the way my brain works, plus mental illness has conspired together to amp it up and mutate it, somehow. It was like i caricaturised myself in the effort to be what i thought i should be. I kept turning up the volume on my presentation, because it never quite worked. I got abused and hurt and shunned by my peers, regardless. My spastic intensity was a frantic response to pain and rejection. I wanted, i craved, i NEEDED connection badly.
Man, i tried so fucking hard.

Now though, i don’t try so hard. As i live out my life in a safe and respectful relationship, i’m able to take off the various masks and costumes i’ve used over the years. The deep desire i have to know and be myself, has overcome the fear of being rejected and hurt and misunderstood. I also have the gift of knowing i’m an introvert at heart. I know that i’m not hiding out here on our farm – i spend a lot of time alone and don’t have many friends or socialise much because i like it this way. I love humans very much, and i want to make the world a better place for us all. I write this blog in part, with that purpose in mind. The internet has been a lifesaver for me in many ways, and now it can help me help others. I couldn’t do this if it were one-on-ones and face-to-faces and speeches and talks and such. It’d eat me up in no time, and i’d crash and burn. Today, i know myself well enough to know that. I also think that perhaps someday, as i continue along this path, learning to know and love myself, i might take my show on the road. To put a face and a voice to these oddly presented blurbs and terrible poetry.
Honestly, a 1-woman show isn’t outside the realm of possibility.
Maybe one day.

I could travel and do little performances or give little talks. They’ll be weird and perhaps land only infrequently, but for people like me they’d be reveletory – bringing relief and hope and freedom. I could connect with people and come away from it more, not less. Edified, not diminished. Invigorated, not spent.
Maybe one day.

Today i putter about in my Little Crooked House, extremely anxious and incredibly frustrated by the actions of many people around me. But there is a ribbon of peace running through me now; i’ve created this life around myself where i have the time and the safety to do this work. I’ve been able to process unthinkable trauma, to embrace myself as a worthy human, to shuck off the lies of my abusers, to set boundaries between myself and those who’d yet harm me, to show those i’ve harmed that i’m truly sorry by toiling every day to be better – even if it’s just a smidge, to love whom i will without fear, and allow them to love me back in return, to ask for and accept help, to say NO, to take my mask off and step forward as myself… And so much more than this.

I’m moving away from feeling threatened by those who think and act differently than i do. I’m repulsed by group think instead of being drawn to it. I don’t need the world to agree with me or approve of me.
My therapist squeed and clapped as we spoke of these things. She said, “You’re falling in love with yourself! I have goosebumps!”
I didn’t cringe.
Amazing.
I didn’t even roll my eyes.
Unbelievable.

We’ll see how that statement of hers sits inside me.
I’ll keep y’all apprised.
Scintillating stuff, innit?
Heh.

Love and Peace To All,
~H~

Pictured: Bronze sculpture by Rodin.

2 thoughts on “Today In Self-Discovery…

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