This is the second installment in a series that I am writing. I received a list of transformational questions from a friend and I will be sharing my own answers over the next few months.
Where can I show more of my true self?
I tend to be a guarded person. I keep myself pretty well blocked off from the world. I am slow to trust, cautious with my heart and can be a bit cold at first meeting. It is not that I don’t like people. I do very much. I have just been deeply wounded by some of the things that have happened to me.
My father got sick with cancer and died when I was in high school. My mother has always suffered from undiagnosed and poorly managed (when it was managed at all) mental illness. However, when my father died, she really flew off of the handle.
I was 18 and about to start college when all of this was happening and I was glad for an escape. I shut myself down toward others and began drinking heavily at keg parties, running around until all hours of the night and generally living the life of the average college kid. But, while most of the kids had chaos and partying at school, they had a place to go home that was quiet and rejuvenating. It was a place that they could go for a week at Thanksgiving or Christmas and remember who they were.
I didn’t have that. My mother was not well and, as I got older, it became clearer and clearer to me that I was totally on my own. I decided that if I was going to be all alone, I was going to need to be tough and ready to defend myself.
In defending what I thought was myself, I think that I actually lost a lot of myself. I tried not to think about my father and all of the pain that his death brought me. I attempted to pretend that I was not frightened of my mother’s spiraling mental health. I had always been a smart kid and everyone expected me to do well. I did, for the most part.
But, that was all on the exterior. On the inside, I was crushed and broken. On the inside, I was sure I was not worthy of love and that I was abandoned by my parents because of that fact. In truth, neither of them had abandoned me. They had both fallen victim to very serious diseases. However, as I made sense of the adult world all on my own, I felt like an orphan.
They might as well have left me on the doorstep at the local nunnery.
Because I was so devastated and frightened I became withdrawn. I had friends. I dated. I went to parties. Again, I projected a normalcy that no one seemed to notice was a total facade. Not even my closest friends. But, at the end of the day, I always lived with the notion that it was me against the world.
And, that’s a shitty place to be.
I got married. Had kids. I taught school. As I got older, the normalcy of my life became more and more convincing. I still felt like a lost, broken and abandoned girl but at least no one would have to know it. Unfortunately, my husband knew and bore the brunt of my pain at times.
Again, this sucked.
It took me until I was 30 to finally realize what had happened and how it was affecting me – that I had become lost in the hurricane of my adolescence and that I had never found myself again. I had simply let it all drift away into the wind and created a new self. I created a self that would be able to get by. I created a self whose mother didn’t hear birds talking to her. I created a self whose mother who didn’t blame me for every problem that she had. I designed a new Jessica who was far less damaged than the actual me.
In short, I created a self who didn’t look as broken as I felt.
The one place where I can spill my guts and open my heart, is on paper. In words, I can say everything that I would never say out loud. It’s been that way since I was a child. However, I can still be a bit guarded when writing for the public.
(The biggest reason for that is my writing was often stolen by my mother and shared with others without my consent. My power over my own creativity was stolen.)
But, that’s not OK. It’s still mine. And, what I have come to realize is that no one can steal your creativity – that spark! – from you. Unless, of course, you let them.
So, today, I declare to all of you that I am going to be as honest and true and forthright and real as I can possibly be in my writing. I know that it is possible for me to truly show myself that way and I want the world to see the real me.
My goal, moving forward, is to share myself more publicly in my writing. I hope that that type of honesty can help me to find my truth and lose my fear. Maybe I’ll inspire some people. Maybe I won’t. But, I promise, I will be here writing.