Call it getting through the mid life crisis I went through in the first few years of my forties; call it getting a little wiser with age; call it gaining perspective on things that are important in life...whatever you want to call it doesn't really matter.
The truth is simply this. I'm not living in denial any more. Mostly by that I mean that I'm not living in denial of my feelings, my heart, any more. I spent so many years of my adult years, far too many years, feeling a strong need to have control over myself, my feelings, that I forgot what it felt like to truly feel things. Instead, I shoved food into my mouth; numbed myself with mindless things oriented around distracting me from what was really going on inside; made sure that what others saw in me was a strength that I did not feel or possess; tried to control myself and others to the best of my ability; ensured that tears coming from anything other than anger remained tightly secured under lock and key.
I was so scared to feel the things that really matter in life. Scared to feel great depth of love because that might well lead to pain; scared to feel sadness because when would it ever stop; scared to tell the real truth (the greater truths) because what would people think; scared even to feel joy because surely that acknowledgement alone would orchestrate impending disaster. I was so scared that I shoved those things far down and covered them up with a guise of control and togetherness and many masks oriented around others' perceptions of me.
They were such good masks that for many years I fooled myself. And as a result, I learned to ignore what my body was telling me. I stopped knowing feelings of fulness when I sat down to eat; I stopped recognizing feelings of fear, guilt, and sometimes even propriety even though I so often felt overwhelmed by things; my strong 'sixth sense' which I might now call a gift of discernment vacated me. So many things were affected.
I've come a long way...thanks to therapy, good friends, a faithful husband, a compassionate and ever-interested God, Dr. Gordon Neufeld's work, and becoming a parent. I feel like I'm finally maturing, emerging as, well, myself.
These days if I can't cry when I feel the need to, I'm aware as I never used to be that my heart rate has increased, my eyes are burning, and there is a lump in my throat that simply will not be ignored. My heart is readily available. When I'm frustrated, I know it and don't have a need to suppress it - rather I find a way to purge myself of it, or to work with it to translate it into feeling the grief over the things that I cannot change or control. It's so good...so much healthier. So freeing. I don't feel the driving need to impress any more, to project any image other than myself. I'm learning how to say no, how to speak my truth, and am re-discovering some of my areas of giftedness.
Why do we - and I say we because I don't think I am alone in these things - live so much of our lives in denial of things? In denial of who we are? Why is it so important to hang on so tightly to control? Do we ever even really have control in the first place? And yet we continue to try to exercise it. Why do we worry so much about what the Jones' think? Who are we working so hard for??
I'm still scared of all of those things I used to be scared of...in fact, I have a lot of fears. But I'm choosing not to hide myself under the weight of those fears any longer. Will I fail in this choice? Absolutely. That's ok. This is the change I've seen growing in me, expanding outside of me, over the past number of years.
Culminating in today. The first day of the rest of my life. The day I want to maximize as if there is no tomorrow.
So help me God, I want to live my life as He intended it...as He created me to be.