Coming Out of Hiding
10 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I’d spent most of my life trying to win the love and approval of a man who was, if anything, more withdrawn and unable to give and receive love than I. In hindsight, I am pretty sure he loved me, but his way of showing it left scars I’ve only just begun to recognize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 and 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
I 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 was 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
More 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:
- I’m grateful for the family who, for reasons of their own left me to find my own way.
- I’m grateful for the strength I didn’t always know I had.
- I’m grateful fro the friendships I’ve made since I shed my moth-y greyness.
- I’m grateful for a happy, busy, crazy life that suits me perfectly.
- 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