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

Posts tagged ‘hiding’

Evolving From a Moth to a Butterfly

Coming Out of Hiding years ago I was Isolated. I went dancing twice a week, went to work, and spent the rest of my time alone or with my daughter Heather. I had few Facebook friends and no phone numbers or other ways to reach my dance “friends”. I was a loner who watched people connecting beyond the dance hall enviously. I was a sad, dull moth fluttering unnoticed amidst the brightly colored butterflies.

I was also oblivious. I had no idea the problem, and eventually the solution was within me.

I spent years building a tough, impermeable wall around myself—a place where I hid from the world and ensured my tender heart would feel no pain. And yet, it did. The pain of loneliness is insidious. It creeps up when you’re not looking, enveloping you in what seems to be a comforting shroud, only to reveal itself as a prison where pain might be held at bay, but love and compassion are too.

We Express Love in Our Own Way

I’d spent most of my life trying to win the love and approval of a man who was, if anything, more withdrawn and unable to give and receive love than I. In hindsight, I am pretty sure he loved me, but his way of showing it left scars I’ve only just begun to recognize and understand. Whereas my mother used criticism to show her love, my dad used sarcasm, cruelty, and rejection.

He had high expectations for me, most revolving around independence. I even earned slight praise for ceasing to be a financial burden on him and my mom soon after I left college the first time. Though mom tried on many occasions to help me, I craved my dad’s love so much, I’d do without rather than admit I needed help. My sister was far more willing to accept handouts, so mom was somewhat appeased.

Hiding from Life

Looking back now, I stayed overlong in my cocoon before bursting forth in a blaze of…dull boring. Instead of a beautiful butterfly, I emerged as a dull, grey moth. Still pretty and ethereal, but in a subdued, hide-in-the-corner kind of way.

My few attempts to stand out left me feeling exposed and vulnerable. I scuttled back into my corner quickly, happy my dull coloring allowed the shadows to consume me. But as I started writing about my parents’ suicides, as I opened up about my own flaws, I realized I had undiscovered dimensions beneath my colorless exterior. I learned I’d simply pulled a full-body mask over my own bright colors to keep from attracting unwelcome attention.

As bit by bit I removed the mask and tore down the walls, I re-discovered my love for bright colors and shiny things—a love I’d buried beneath a thousand layers in my efforts to fit in and be accepted.

A Difficult Journey

Created with CanvaI won’t say I didn’t make a few miss-steps along the way. I know I said and did things to annoy others, and sometimes even piss them off. But I learned to be true to myself, and by doing so, I attracted people who appreciated my bright colors, even if they were a bit loud and glaring at times. I found people who were wearing their own colors proudly, unapologetically, and fearlessly. I joined a flock of butterflies who found joy in standing out.

I may still have moments when I slip back into my moth attire, or fear I’ve overstepped. There are times old feelings come flooding back feeling like a sucker punch to the gut. But I’ve learned to communicate my fears and feelings to those who’ve made me feel welcome and comfortable. They tell me honestly if I’ve pushed the envelope, but usually, they reassure me I’ve done nothing wrong in being myself.

Born to Break Old Patterns

I always had to fight my natural tendencies to fit in with my family. Only now, I’m learning I different for a reason. In every family, there comes a person who was meant to break old, outgrown patterns and replace them with new, better ones. Their life is rarely easy because they step on a lot of toes without meaning to. It took me decades to understand that was one of my many purposes. My family is rooted in survival behaviors they carry in their genes because they were Jews living in Europe. Though many of those behaviors have been unnecessary for at least 2 generations, they were indelibly etched into the fabric of our genetic weave.

Though I didn’t understand why, I made my family uncomfortable, and they did a fabulous job of shoving me back into a semblance of their mold. But that mold always chafed and itched. It was only after detaching from my family I started stretching my wings and slowly climbing out of a box that wasn’t entirely of my own making. Yet, I’d allowed it to become a part of me, albeit an uncomfortable one because it was easier than fighting what I saw as a losing battle.

Being Left to My Own Devices Was A Blessing and more, I’m grateful to my family for walking away after my mother died. Though it took me another decade to realize it, I no longer had to live my life according to someone else’s rules. They didn’t accept me as I was, and suddenly, that was just fine! I could be who I wanted to be without looking over my shoulder to see who I’d offended or annoyed. And the feeling was incredibly freeing.

I could exhume old skeletons, put them under my personal microscope, and realize their ways weren’t mine. I may have shared blood with those skeletons, but I didn’t have to follow the same old roads they’d followed, perhaps for centuries. There came the day when I looked at those old roads, shuddered, and walked away. I started breaking my own ground.

Sure, it’s been slow going, but the scenery is brighter, friendlier, and more joyful than the bland, grey road I left. But the best part is, I can wear my neon-bright, multi-colored wings proudly. I can soar without fear of tripping up or falling, or worse, attracting the wrong kind of attention.

Shedding my overcoat of grey has been a long, sometimes painful journey, but well worth the trouble when I can fly high in my coat of many colors with others doing the same.

Lessons Learned in Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the family who, for reasons of their own left me to find my own way.
  2. I’m grateful for the strength I didn’t always know I had.
  3. I’m grateful fro the friendships I’ve made since I shed my moth-y greyness.
  4. I’m grateful for a happy, busy, crazy life that suits me perfectly.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; friendship, new adventures, love, joy, colors, dancing, health, harmony, peace, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light


About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and advocate for cats. 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

Emerge Through Experiments and Experiences

An Accident Became an Epiphany

All day yesterday, I had a strange feeling things were about to change drastically. It wasn’t a feeling of fear, but rather, anticipation. Late in the afternoon, I washed my hair so I could get it dry in time for dancing, pushing the uncomfortable feeling in my gut aside. Before you start to yawn, bear with me. The story gets more interesting than “girl washes hair”.

This time, I changed things up a bit. I used a different leave-in conditioner, thinking it would help straighten my normal mane of frantic curls. Then I threw my hair over my head and started blow drying it from the underside. When I stood upright, I realized my mistake, or maybe not. The curls had taken on a life of their own and cascaded in wild, but strangely appealing disarray.

It would be shameful to contain something this lively. I thought to myself. So I threw caution to the winds, and refrained from corralling the mayhem as I typically do. (This is where it gets interesting, I promise).

Hiding to Emerge

I found I felt much free-er, less buttoned up than normal. (OK, so those who know me in the dance community would probably cast some doubt on the “buttoned up” description, but I’m typically more reserved than anyone realizes). For some unfathomable reason, the loose and crazy hair made me less inhibited and more able to just get into the moment with joy and complete abandonment. Could this be the butterfly effect Sue Monk Kidd spoke of? Have I been hiding; waiting; growing?

Sure, it meant pushing the hair out of my eyes a lot and standing under the fan with it scrunched in my hand to dry the resulting sweat, but overall, it was so…can I really say it? Empowering. Wearing my hair loose gave me both a place to hide and a place to come out of hiding. Does that even make sense?

Maybe it’s a lot like the language of fans women used to learn. There’s a certain freedom. A certain devil-may-careishness in a wild mop of hair flying helter-skelter as I spun and pranced. (Yes, I really was prancing around last night, having the time of my life).

Do We Unknowingly Put Constraints Upon Ourselves?

Is this really all there is to it? Is loose hair the key to loosening up and giving in to the moment? Did it make me more approachable than my typical pulled back styles? Only time will tell. But last night, I talked to people more easily, and they to me. That has to count for something.

Tonight, the experiment will alter a bit as it’s impossible to get the crazy, corkscrew curls without wetting my hair again. Tonight, I’ll try it straight and see if the effect is the same. Could the angst in my last post simply be my own, to this point, inability to completely let loose? Guess I’m going to find out. Stay tuned for more letting-my-hair-d0wn moments.

So Much to be Grateful For

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for successful experiments and unexpected epiphanies.
  2. I’m grateful for excellent dance nights full of energy and joy.
  3. I’m grateful for friends in the dance community who both feed and feed on my energy.
  4. I’m grateful for my ability to continue changing and growing, even in small, seemingly insignificant ways.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance: dancing, love, life, joy, friends, release, passion, peace, harmony, philanthropy and abundance.

Blessed Be

I invite you to visit my Facebook pages, Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author and HLWT Accounting. Please also drop by my website, and check out my Hire Me Page. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

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