Rip off the mask, tear down the walls. Show the world my beautiful, vulnerable self!

A Face Filled With Joy to Light Up a Room

There’s a woman I see out dancing quite often who literally exudes waves of joy wherever she goes. Yet when I read the poetry she drops into Facebook, I can also feel the pain she’s experiencing as a physical ache. My first thought in recognizing the dichotomy is she uses joy to hide her broken parts.

Taking a step back, I realize it’s not an accurate portrayal. This lovely, fairy-like woman has certainly had her share of pain. She’s experienced loss, betrayal, and perhaps even abuse at various points in her life. She has chosen not to let those parts define her. Though her wings may have been broken or bent time and time again, she refuses to wallow or even allow the pain to encompass her being and affect others.

Instead, she uses the hardships as the building blocks of the firm foundation she continually creates for herself. The broken bits become pieces that are just the right size to fill in cracks or strengthen gaps with an extra layer of mortar. Perhaps she recycles the broken parts, grinding them into powder, then mixing them with glue or epoxy so it flows easily into the hairline fractures life gives her before they widen into chasms.

I suspect the process itself has come from her experiences. Once, she allowed those cracks to widen until some became seemingly insurmountable chasms. Like many of us, she did her share of wallowing before she found her strength and learned what didn’t break her has made her so much stronger than she ever imagined.

Searching for My Inner Light

I’ve not yet learned to be the ball of light and energy she has, but my own path has allowed me learn the broken pieces have value. I’ve used my own to strengthen a wobbly foundation. I’ve added strength to myself, and been a rock for others at times. I’ve also learned to allow others to be a rock for me when my own strength falters.

I suspect her light, like mine is made up of millions of tiny prism pieces gathered not only from her own broken bits, but from the countless others she’s helped when they needed a light through their own darkness. Those prism pieces shine all the brighter for having been forged of love and tempered by life.

One of the hardest lessons for me to learn was that nobody has to trudge through life alone. It’s OK to ask for help, and in fact, when you ask for help, you’re giving someone else the opportunity to be of service; to give of themselves. You need to break off pieces of yourself to help others get through the tough times. But in so doing, you end up with pieces of them as well.

A Heart Made of Millions of Prism Pieces

I believe by the time you reach adulthood, assuming you weren’t raised with the misconception you were better off standing alone, that your heart is made up of millions of little pieces of the people, places, and animals you touched on your journey. It’s those pieces which truly make you whole, not holding onto your own as if losing a single one will shatter you into a million irreparable pieces.

Yet that’s what I believed for the first 4 or 5 decades of my life. It was what my family taught me, and the times I’d been broken had given me no reason to question those lessons. Each time, I put myself back together as best I could, little realizing I was building on a disintegrating foundation each time, and setting myself up for the next disaster. I built fragile structures on top of each other, unaware that at some point, the whole thing would come crashing down, and I’d be unable to find a single solid piece on which to build.

That day came in my mid-40’s. I was alone, angry, sad, and clueless as to how I could come through the latest series of disasters in anything resembling wholeness. In truth, I’d never been whole, so I didn’t even know what it looked like. Nevertheless, I craved wholeness as most humans do. It wasn’t until a few years later I realized in order to find that wholeness, I had to finish shattering. Most of all, I had to shatter all the false beliefs I’d been given.

No Longer Working From Flawed Beliefs

I think my mom’s suicide was my first indication the belief system I’d been given was flawed. had slowly become a toxic combination of resentment, disrespect, and annoyance was my ineffectual way of disengaging from my family without a safety net, or any idea what to connect to instead. For several years, my only real connections were my two daughters, and by then, they were at an age where they were trying to establish their own boundaries and rules.

Needless to say, I was adrift in unfamiliar waters without the ability to guide my vessel, or any idea where to guide it if I could. It wasn’t long before I lost the ability or even the desire to hide my seemingly unstoppable rush downstream and over the falls. With nothing left to lose, certain I was about to crash and burn in spectacular fashion, I threw caution to the winds. I admitted I didn’t have all the answers, my life was far from perfect, and by god, I was tired of pretending.

I’d like to say it was like finding the drain plug just as the place was about to flood, but it actually took awhile for me to even recognize my life was changing for the better. At first, I simply wrote and shared my thoughts, encouraged by my daughter. Initially, my words were like dipping a toe into a pond, then pulling it back quickly before anyone noticed or commented.

Everyone Struggles Until They Learn to Ask for Help

As comments came and were for the most part positive and encouraging, I became braver, sharing what my parents would have considered intimate details. I learned others simply considered it opening up and allowing myself to not only appear, but be human; to be someone others could actually relate to instead of a barren mask of feigned perfection.

I learned everyone struggles, everyone falls, and everyone hurts at one time or another. While those like me keep breaking, and never really fix themselves, but instead, set one more illusion; one more glamour in place, the ones who truly grow have learned to say: “Yes, I’m broken, but it’s only temporary.” In the immortal words of the Beatles, “I get by with a little help from my friends.”

When I first began to lower my masks, though, I had no real friends. My relationships, such as they were, were as superficial as I was. I was surfaced in glass with no way to lock on. Those first forays made from behind the safety of my computer screen were downright terrifying. Once they started reaching the people I saw regularly, but who’d never really seen me, it got easier. To their credit, they found ways to connect to me until I learned from their example how to do some of the connecting myself.

Learning to Give Without Reservation

Slowly, I allowed the words to come out of my mouth instead of my fingers. I hugged with complete abandon instead of the reserve I’d been taught. I stopped being afraid people would be disgusted by the raw, brokenness of my bare face, and learned true love and acceptance came from the gift I gave them by sharing my imperfections as it allowed them to share their own just as freely.

So when I see someone like this beautiful, fairy-like, joyful creature dancing her way into everyone’s hearts with an ethereal glow on her face, I know it’s the result of many breakings, and an open and willing heart which keeps allowing others to help her fit the pieces back together, better and stronger for the experience. I only hope someday I’ll carry the same glow and light up a room the way she does.

Gratitude is My Strongest Building Block

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for wood nymphs, fairies, and sprites in human form who spread joy liberally and with complete abandon.
  2. I’m grateful for everyone who has been patient with me as I unlearned the things which isolated me to make room for those which allow me to be an active member of a community.
  3. I’m grateful for the free flow of words and ideas which never fails me as long as I put fingers to keys.
  4. I’m grateful for all of my broken pieces which have gone into making other people stronger.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, light, joy, friendship, compassion, kindness, dancing, acceptance, peace, harmony, balance, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light


About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a Holistic Ghostwriter, and an advocate for cats and mental health. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward

I look forward to your comments.

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