“You don’t get angry anymore?
I used to get angry all the time, frustrated too.
I’m not lost anymore.
How did you do that?
Same way anything that’s lost gets found. I stopped looking”.
I don’t watch much tv, but M was watching LOST a couple of months ago, and I overheard this conversation. It gave me goosebumps when I heard it, but I couldn’t put my finger on why.
Over the last many weeks, my thoughts have returned to this conversation. I couldn’t decide if I agreed or not.
I couldn’t decide, because I spent most of my life searching, and I often feel like I’m still searching.
I spent my childhood hoping for a place to belong, a place to feel safe. I counted on adults to show me, but was repeatedly disappointed.
In my teenage years, I continued to search, but I relied upon myself more than ever. I developed a drive and a strength that could and would carry me away. I wasn’t certain of the what or where or how, but I knew I needed to leave to find it.
There were college years where I felt more belonging than I ever had, but even then I was searching for something more. Anything. Nothing. Everything. Although I earned good grades, I engaged in some really risky behavior. My natural instinct was to search for proof of my worth, because I constantly heard this voice in my head questioning it.
Later, even after marrying an amazing man who wholeheartedly loved me, I built walls around my heart for a long time, and even I didn’t go too far behind them. Anger was my go-to emotion. It was easy, safer. It kept me from having to full-on feel the things which anger could hide, and allowed me to keep others at a distance so they wouldn’t see.
I was lost. I spent a long time not even knowing how to search, but desperately trying, walking in circles, and feeling defeat. I tried so hard to avoid repeating the things I’d seen and heard in my own childhood, that I forgot how to listen to me. In some ways, I never truly learned to hear my own voice.
I ignored my fears by moving at 100mph toward anything that caught my interest. Because when I slowed, there I was. And I was so afraid of seeing me, of feeling the hurt, regret, and grief, not only for my own actions and choices, but for other’s actions and choices, too. For times gone by, for lost years, and things I’d never experience, or those experiences for which I felt I’d robbed others. For the ways my choices hurt the ones I love the most, especially my children.
Most of all, I feared rejection. Abandonment. Shame. My voice inside was so afraid. She spoke to me out of fear.
I worried I was a giant bundle of ‘too much’ because I deeply needed, when I’d prided myself on being strong and independent all the time. But that persona was so draining.
All along, I hadn’t realized I could be both. I could be many things. I could stop looking, and see me. I could hear me, feel me.
I was safe. I could trust.
I could be me, whatever that meant.
And when I began to do so, to let go of some of that fear and be vulnerable, I was able to see the ones I love through a different lens. A clearer one. One in which their actions or reactions aren’t all about me. By that I mean, they aren’t always not thinking of me or not caring, if they behave, or don’t behave, in certain ways. That’s my voice speaking, not theirs. And if I think they are being hurtful, I can ask, or express myself. We can communicate, and they won’t run away or think I’m stupid.
Do I want to be the best version of me I can be? Of course! But I suppose I’m not so much seeking as I’m trying to listen, with an open mind and an open heart.
I can hear my own voice. I’m learning my patterns. I hear that hurtful voice, which may always be there, and I’ve allowed a new voice to emerge, one who understands or wishes to understand.
It may take a long time, but I’m learning to have compassion for that hurtful voice and her origins. I can, because I find comfort and security in this life I’ve helped to build. I feel the safety and love, and I’m trying to truly receive it and believe it. I can feel all my heart is able to feel, not hide behind anger. The only way to do that is to listen. Not fall backward, not speed forward.
I just have to remember to listen to me.
-photo credit viralnovelty.net