The alarm sounds almost every morning and disappointment immediately washes over my tranquil and comfortable state of hibernation. I have to accept the fact that my feet will soon touch the ground and my day will officially begin. Just the whole production of showering, blow drying my hair, applying makeup and then finding something to wear is exhausting in itself. I usually don’t like how my hair is fighting against my plan for the day or how the clothes I’ve chosen somehow don’t seem to fit quite like they did the last time. It’s a constant battle in my mind where I struggle to accept who I am.
Out the door and in my car it roughly takes 24 minutes to get to work. Once I arrive a whole new set of challenges meet me throughout the day. I have to speak to clients, manage deadlines and ensure the daily operations function smoothly. My job isn’t difficult there are just many moving parts and I have to make sure I don’t lose or break them. On the exterior I am calm and wear a smile. On the inside I can be governed by the stress of last minute developments. Or urgent changes required of me when others repeatedly make the same mistakes. My role then changes to “fixer” and immediately figure out a way to make the impossible possible. If I had to display my internal dialogue during these times let me tell you it wouldn’t be pretty.
Once I’m home then a whole new process begins. Take-out or cook dinner? My youngest son still lives at home but it’s almost like living with a ghost. Every once in a while there is a rare sighting and I’m reminded of his presence in our home. It’s a new era in my life that allows much more time of self-reflection. What I’ve discovered is that my internal thought process and self-dialogue isn’t positive. It affects my emotions, my speech and my actions. I would like to remove it like a jacket and throw it in our large black trash can. I just haven’t figured out how to do it. The truth is that I struggle with who I am.
“I’m not pretty enough”
“I’m too fat”
“I’m not smart enough”
“I’m not funny enough”
“I don’t deserve love”
“I’m a terrible person”
“I’m not capable”
And on and on and on in my mind it goes. I know these things aren’t true but many times my thoughts and actions respond differently. I also know I’m not the only one who struggles this way. In my case years of abuse are to blame. I was shown time and time again that my mind and body were only worth the pleasure of others. Then it was reinforced by my parents response that showed what others did was okay. Then my truth became I was worthless and insignificant.
I’ve tried for years to shed myself of these lies but they continue to cling to me like leeches that suck the life out of me. Counseling, prayer and support of others have been my lifeline this past year. I deeply desire to rip away each lie and painful memory inside me. So I sit by the flames of fear and face the past and distorted truth of me. It’s excruciating but at the same time it burns the particles away bit by bit. In doing so, the truth has begun to slowly appear. Like hidden images found under works of art. Michelangelo, da Vinci, and van Gogh were masters of paintbrush and canvas. In da Vinci’s painting of the Mona Lisa – a French scientist Pascal Cotte discovered another painting lurking beneath the surface, likely an earlier version and a real-to-life portrait of Lisa del Giocondo, his subject. Why she was then painted over is anyone’s guess.
It’s taken a deep commitment to the healing process, but I’m now at the stage of finding the right methods to scrub the oil and lacquer others painted over me. First of all even knowing the real me is underneath brings encouragement. Then searching ways to remove the top dried layer without destroying what is underneath is tiring and overwhelming. Never give up because once the processes are in place it’s miraculous! I’m still wiping away layers but I catch a glimpse occasionally of me and my heart swells with joy.
It’s sort of embarrassing to say but the other day I was out running errands and I didn’t feel good about myself. More specifically how I looked. I just desired to blend in with my surroundings and avoided eye contact at all cost. I was just about to walk into another store when I heard the words in my head “walk in with your head held high.” I stopped and thought “wait, what just happened”. The words popped back into my brain “you walk into this store like you own it and smile at everyone who looks you in the eye.” Okay so this meant I had to look at other people too! I was scared and reluctant but I did it. I forgot about all the noise in my head – and I just did it. Even though it felt like I was faking the motions – I did it. Do you know what I learned? I left that store different than how I entered it. My mind and my thoughts completely changed – I was happy, content and at peace.
I shed the lies that day and in that moment and it helped fortify the truth which allowed healing. I made the impossible possible and more of my true painting came to the surface. If you are reading this and have been through terrible injustice in your life (or know someone who did) – then my message is please don’t ever give up finding your authentic self. There is more to life just waking up and going through the same motions day after day. There is more to hiding how you truly feel inside and acting like everything is okay. There is more to you than what was done to you (or not done for you). I encourage you to find ways to wipe away the alternative and distorted painting that was placed on top of your true masterpiece. Your true hidden self deserves to come to the surface to be recognized, appreciated and loved. It is so very possible and only you can find it.
Please don’t misunderstand I have a very good life – my abuse didn’t completely win. A husband, sons, daughter-in-law, grandson and others who love me and I completely adore. I look forward to the day that their love stops surprising me. I’ve been given many opportunities and blessings in life that enlarges my grateful heart. I share this because under the surface of it all lurks insecurities and deep pain. A constant questioning of my abilities and worth. My internal voice sometimes sways my emotions, decisions and possibly steps in my future. I just don’t want it to continue to control my life (or yours). There is a way out that brings wholeness, peace and much much more.