I lost myself somewhere along the way.
Many adults could say this, but I think those of us who came from a background of childhood trauma and rejection mean it in a more significant way. We’ve spent so much of our adult lives looking over our shoulders to the reactions of others that we’ve become molded by our trying to never be doing anything or BEING anything anyone could criticize.
I was speaking to an old high school friend I’ve been off and on in contact with over the years. I mentioned to him something along the lines of how I’m at the point of my life where I want to reset back to the real me and I suddenly saw myself at sixteen in my mind. The image was a captured moment in time and I could feel what I was feeling at the moment and knew exactly what I was wearing, who I was with, and where I was.
I was walking with my then best friend on a hot sunny day at the fairgrounds of the city’s yearly summer exhibition. I was wearing a skirt that I LOVED, one that I forgot I had ever owned and, in remembering it, I wish I still had one just like it. It was what would be called boho (Bohemian-styled) in today’s description. I was tanned, my hair permed in beachy waves, had on a little white cotton sleeveless t-shirt, black leather purse with the then-expected feathered roach clip hanging from it, and moved in the midst of the heavenly scent of coconut tanning oil coming from my skin – the perfume of summer in the 80’s. What most significantly came to me in this sudden remembrance was not so much the details but the essence of who I was at the time.
Sixteen was the best year of my life. I was spared the foreknowledge of the future heavy string of disappointments and failures. I was old enough to temporarily find moments of freedom away from the pressure at home, where I was determined to be me, not how my mother saw me. I had a fresh start the year before in a new high school away from the bullying kids who knew me since elementary school and had settled on a negative view of me. I was happily and rebelliously me, wore what expressed who I was, said what I thought (opinionated little thing that I was), and truly believed all this self-expression would continue.
I see now that it couldn’t have lasted. The key word here, I suppose, was “rebellious”. It seems to me that I was being me in reaction to my mother, instead of it being a natural state. I can’t analyze it all now, but I’m think that’s why I, wanting to be one of the normal people and lacking confidence in how to do that, began to become less self-expressive beginning in my early 20’s.
That sudden reminder of who I was added to a growing disquiet I’ve been having of late. More and more I’ve been having a sense of a pushing inside of me, that my soul is becoming frustrated and is wanting to come out as it truly is again. I decided to make it official and made the actual decision that this was my new job – to become me again.
I chuckle that sometimes my new wish to self-express still has an edge of rebelliousness to it that isn’t even needed. It’s not like someone’s going to stop me, for heaven’s sake, but inside I feel like I want to dare anyone from preventing me from stenciling an elegant scroll design to my stair risers. I’m growing my hair as long as I can, something I’ve wanted to do my whole life but was told as a child that I didn’t have the proper hair type for it. It turns out, now that it’s officially at a long length, that I do. I will be a middle-aged woman with long hair and, although others say it looks nice, I wear it feeling like I’m sticking it to the powers that be.
Mostly, though, there is no rebellion and I just have a quiet sense of becoming me again.
This new urge to become who I truly am is here to stay, I feel it. It has a stressed edge to it as I feel I have so much time to make up for, but in general it feels like it’s a breath of fresh air. I may do or try some things that are not really me after all, and I’m okay with that. I can always change and go in new directions.
I feel God watching me make these changes as I talk to him about it in prayer. I think He’s going to like seeing me stenciling the stairs.