Breaking the Mask
I write a lot about authenticity. I even get up on Facebook Live and talk about it and myself quite openly. But after attending a conference where people got up in front of a live audience and talked about their lives and their struggles, I learned a really difficult lesson about authenticity and openness. Writing in a blog or even doing a live broadcast is just another kind of mask.
Even when I get responses from people, the dialogue is after the fact when I’m safely behind the wall. They can’t touch me or see me falter. They (or perhaps I should say you) don’t see my insecurities and vulnerabilities laid out on the table. Any tears I shed or frustrations I express are hidden from your eyes. In other words, I’m still safe.
A Prison of My Own Making
In some ways, I still believe I need that protection, that safety net, the barrier between me and thou. But in others, it has become my prison, my place of disconnection, my lonely isolation. It is real, but only to a point. When I close my door behind me, there’s no one to hold me when I hurt, celebrate with me when I triumph, or just sit quietly sharing the moment. I am, for all intents and purposes, alone.
Even in a crowd, my invisible barriers soar to the skies. with only a few do I show what’s behind the curtain.
When the Time Comes to Step Outside
Yet lately, it’s becoming harder and harder to keep that curtain in place, to hide the tears, the pain, the sorrow, and the fragility. My emotions are closer to the surface, reflected on my face, in my posture, and in the tears that spill despite my best efforts to contain them.
It seems I’m being kicked out from behind my walls, at least in certain cases and places. Yet I scamper back behind them to write stories like this one, or to talk to my own face while recording a video. The more I fight it, the harder it becomes to feel safe and protected. The more I try to stay behind my walls, the more uncomfortable I become. I’m feeling edgy and discontented. I want more, but it scares the shit out of me. I take baby steps outside which turn into giant steps whether I like it or not.
I’d say mysterious forces are at work to push me into another dimension of my life, but I know better. They’re the same forces which ended jobs, relationships, and other situations for me at just the right time. They are my own internal butt kickers who know when I’ve sat in one place for too long and need to move before I grow roots and try to stay where I no longer belong.
A Move is a Move, No Matter How Small
It isn’t necessarily about moving physically (I’ve lived in the same house for over 30 years). It’s about evolving, growing, expanding who I am into who I’m meant to be. Sometimes, the steps are small and manageable like the initial steps we take while learning to walk. Other times, like now, they’re huge, frightening, and meant to turn my safe, cozy world on its ear. Times like now when I’ve become blase about the little 2- and 3-point earthquakes that rattle my world and the Universe decides it’s time for an 8.7 bone rattler.
I don’t know what tomorrow is going to bring, and I’ll be honest with you. I’m terrified on several levels. But at the same time, I’m excited about what the latest upheaval will bring with it. I’ve lived through my share of them, and in all honesty, it always turns out better than I expected or imagined. This time will be no different, and will probably be even more amazing because my fear levels are off the Richter scale right now.
Easy Steps are Stepping Stones, Not a Place to Rest
I’ve discovered that opening up to people via Facebook Live is just a walk in the park for me. It was the natural progression from what my friend Lucia calls “raw Sheri” in my writing. I even broke down in front of a stranger yesterday and don’t feel completely humiliated and ashamed today. Granted, I declined when she asked if she could hug me. I wasn’t ready to go into full melt-down in front of her and a room full of strangers. But perhaps that time will come.
In the movie, The Grinch, there’s a scene where tears are falling and he says “I’m leaking.” I feel like I’m leaking too, but the salty tears are the outward manifestation of the leak, not the leak itself. I’m leaking humanity; something I’ve kept bottled up most of my life. Sure, I’ve been letting it out a little at a time for the last couple of decades, but my cracks are widening and I can no longer seal them back up as I used to. I no longer want to be on the outside looking in.
Am I ready to come out from behind the last of my walls, take off the last of my masks? Changing the name of this blog is probably my answer. I changed the name because it felt right. But I think it was that inner voice telling me it’s time to walk the talk instead of just paying it lip service.
Embracing What’s Uncomfortable
I sit here now, typing these words, feeling anxious, afraid, and close to tears (which seems to be my natural state of late). Dylan seems to sense it as he rarely leaves my side when I’m home lately. His comforting presence slows my rapidly beating heart and gives me a place to go when the fear overwhelms.
Still, I look forward to long talks and sharing my red Adirondack chairs. This is not a time for isolation. My new word is “community”. My goal is to recognize the one I already have and to build and expand on it. I’m ready to open myself up to new experiences and people, and new ways to strengthen my wilting finances. My new motto (or one of them) is “Why think outside the box? There is no box!”
“Don’t Just Do Something. Sit There.”
I heard something from one of the speakers yesterday which made me stop and think. He said “Don’t just do something. Sit there.” How often have we been told the opposite? Sometimes we really need to get off the hamster wheel and spend time simply being. We need to take time to pause and reflect; to allow all of the experiences and thoughts we’ve been having to swirl around and put themselves together in ways they won’t find if we’re busy pushing the pieces around.
What I’ve been doing lately isn’t working, or at least it isn’t working well. I’ve been pushing the pieces around, but the resulting patterns are simply variations on what I’ve always known. It’s time for me to allow new patterns to emerge, and to not toss them away simply because they’re unfamiliar.
I’m taking time this weekend to simply sit there and allow the ideas to form without my interference. Who knows where I’ll be next week, but life is an adventure, if we’re willing to accept the challenge.
Sitting Quietly in Gratitude
My gratitudes today are:
- I am grateful for discomfort.
- I am grateful for fear.
- I am grateful for the bloodletting that comes with lowering walls and removing masks.
- I am grateful for the community I’ve failed, to this point to recognize and appreciate.
- I am grateful for abundance; challenges, lessons, friendships, dreams, goals, spirit, love, tears, honest emotions, peace, health, harmony, prosperity, and philanthropy.
Love and Light
Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. She believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. She is available for article writing and ghost writing to help your website and the business it supports grow and thrive. She specializes in finding and expressing your authentic self. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information.