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

Posts tagged ‘independence’

Strong Women Know Loneliness Well

Strength and Independence Don’t Come Free

The women in my social circle have one major quality in common: they are all strong, independent women. Of course, this singular quality is actually more than the singularity I’ve implied. It is really a package deal, combining a multitude of features into one, single, powerful human being.

The fact that a woman, any woman is able to be strong and self-sufficient in a world which encourages anything but is a tribute to her all by itself. As one myself, I know it’s a constant challenge to stand up for myself when many people (and not just men) consider it unnatural and, to say the least, unpleasant.

Naturally, maintaining that strength comes at a cost which some of my friends manage to avoid. Those women found a mate who loves and accepts them as they are, and in most of the cases I’m aware of, it’s made for a union rich in love, commitment, and cooperation.

Strong Doesn’t Mean Wanting to Fly Solo Forever

But for many of my friends, being single has become a lifestyle. Some have into the dating pool, finding a decent guy or two who can handle their pure, unadulterated self. But most have been burned a time or two by men who simply couldn’t handle the pressure of being with a woman who might just be stronger than them in some ways.

As a result, I’m not alone in reaching my 60’s still flying solo. Sure, most of my friends haven’t turned being single into an art form as I have, but we do share a common thread; loneliness.

Being strong doesn’t mean we don’t want someone we can lean on now and then. It simply means we don’t need someone to carry us all the time. A strong woman wants a partner, not a caretaker. And sometimes, that’s a lot harder to find.

Accepting the Desire for Companionship as Part of My Strength one time, I brushed it off saying: I don’t need anyone. I’m fine on my own.

But lately, as I watch my friends struggling to find someone to share some of their down time with, I realize I’ve been lying to myself, if only to find a way to accept that my chances of finding someone this late in my life are challenging at best.

I hear my friends talking about how sad and lonely they are, or watch them slipping into depression. They put on a brave face because that’s what they’ve always done. But when the mask slips and they let those who are both close and trustworthy in, the cracks show, and the loneliness embraces them in her cold, unsympathetic arms.

To be honest, I can’t imagine having someone else living in my house all the time. I’ve lived alone too long, and have large spans of time when I don’t want anyone talking to me or getting in my way as I wander from room to room talking to the cats. Still, I find myself wanting to believe someone out there could and would be able to adapt to my quirks, and I, to his.

Dealing With Loneliness In My Own Way

My friends and I deal with the loneliness in our own ways. I tend to isolate until ICreated with Canva need human interaction. I steer clear of dating sites as I haven’t seen anything to recommend them in the few times I’ve given them a try.

They, on the other hand put themselves out there, date now and then, and keep the hope alive that one day, they’ll meet someone who will fit all the nooks and crannies of their personality and form the bond they seek.

In some ways, I feel I need to take a page out of the manual on relationship building I refer to for my business. From there I learned about the concept of positive indifference, and how off-putting desperation and neediness are to potential clients.

I think people are people, regardless of the situation, and those qualities are only appealing to someone who ultimately wants to take advantage of you. Sure, there’s a fine line between being so strong and independent that you come off as uncaring, and needy and desperate.

Using Positive Indifference in My Social Network Too

I think the key to the puzzle is in the words “positive indifference”. It’s not a “screw you if you don’t like me” attitude, but more of a “I enjoy your company but am OK if it’s not mutual” feeling. A kind of spark, but no pressure.

Unfortunately, as long as my friends and I succumb to loneliness, it’s hard to be positively indifferent. So we focus our attention on other things, keep busy, and try not to think. It works part of the time.

I think we tell ourselves that as much as we love our girlfriends, there’s something we just aren’t able to get from each other (and I don’t mean sex). There’s a feeling; a connection; a wantedness we don’t feel unless we’re someone’s one-and-only.

Long-Term Loneliness Takes Its Toll

I have to believe we can find a way past the neediness, the desperation, and the cold, empty feeling we call loneliness for lack of a better word. Though I haven’t found it myself, I have reached the point where I suffer from it less. Maybe I’ve just gotten used to being alone. I’ve been at it a lot longer than most, if not all of my friends.

Some think being alone for a couple of years is a long time. I can’t argue with them, because we can only view loneliness through our own lens. The amount of time I’ve been alone can be counted in decades. I’m not proud of it, nor am I ashamed. I’ve spent a lot of that time working on myself. Building a better me, as it were. And I’m pretty happy with the changes I’ve wrought.

Mapping Out a New Path

Sometimes, you have to take yourself to a place that seems sad and lonely because you can’t fix what’s broken in the middle of a crowd. You have to pull the pieces apart slowly and carefully, lay them out so you can see what you’ve got. Some pieces you might clean up, others might need some repair. A few might have outlived their purpose and need to be discarded.

As you sift and sort, you bring in new pieces you’ve acquired through living life, learning new things, and leaving old things behind. The space you open up when you discard some of the old pieces leaves room for new ones which are better suited to who and where you are now.

In some ways, I’ve been my own Pygmalion, creating my own ideal woman from the original parts plus a lot of others I’ve acquired on my journey. Doing it alone was, for me, the way it had to be, and probably why I’ve learned to adapt to that status.

Sometimes the Road is Only Wide Enough for One

That isn’t to say it’s my final resting place, so to speak. But I had to travel alone for awhile, else I’d have missed some important pieces I needed to pick up. I feel like I’m much more whole now, except for one thing.

My friends learned to interact socially; to attract the eye of men who were looking for companionship. In all the time I’ve spent alone, I never found that piece, that technique. So in some ways, I’m now operating at a disadvantage, at least if companionship is my goal.

As I watch and listen to the sadness of the women I love and respect, I have to face some hard questions myself. Am I really all that lonely alone? Am I willing to compromise in order to have another person in my life regularly? Can I learn some of the social skills I still lack?

I don’t have the answers to these questions. For now, I feel my place is loving and supporting my friends as they seek their own answers.

Finding Gratitude in All Things Great and Small

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the years I’ve spent alone exploring the person I was, and the one I wanted to become.
  2. I’m grateful for my friendships with strong, independent women, and all the dynamics that entails.
  3. I’m grateful for the pleasure I find in solitude, and my ability to be productive at odd hours, at least as others might see it.
  4. I’m grateful for love in all it’s forms.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance, friendship, connection, love, joy, solitude, introspection, innovation, inspiration, motivation, productivity, peace, harmony, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light


About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, 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

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

Giving the Blog a Facelift Again

In Search of Authenticity

Once again it’s time to change the face of my blog to reflect the changes I’ve made in my life. The change comes because I’ve discovered how valuable it is to show the world our authentic selves. How many times do we get ourselves in trouble by trying to be someone who is not in alignment with our soul? I don’t mean the times when we fake it til we make it, but when we pretend to be someone we’re not for the sole purpose of fitting in. To quote Dr. Seuss “why fit in when you were meant to stand out?”

To say it’s been a rough couple of months for me would be overstating the obvious. Yet it seems I’m not done with the latest series of Universal kicks in the ass. Yes, folks. We’ve gone way beyond head slaps at this point and I’m being seriously challenged to remain upright instead of throwing in the proverbial towel. To put it bluntly, at 62 years old I find myself in the unenviable position of needing to either rejoin a less-than-welcoming job market or somehow manifest some seriously lucrative freelance work. My friend Lucia told me last night that I know what I need to do. My response was to update and publicize my resume, though I know she meant I need to get past my fear and distaste and start pitching like a maniac.

The Ugly Side of Job Sites

Naturally, as soon as I made my resume public on LinkedIn, Indeed, and Careerbuilder I was inundated with emails from insurance companies looking for salespeople and franchise brokers looking for investors. I have to laugh as I would never have made my resume public again if I had money to invest in a new enterprise, much less something which is ultimately benefiting corporate America!

I’m waiting for the influx of employment agencies who have no intention of sending me on a single interview but would love to put me in their inventory to molder on the shelf. I expect a reprieve until Monday when they’re back at their desks.

Open the Window and See the Opportunities

In Neurogym’s winning the Game of Money, the first recording tells a story about walking across the desert, realizing you’re thirsty and have no water, and feeling a little desperate until you trip over a cactus and realize sources of water have been there all along. You just failed to notice or recognize them. I’m doing my best to remember that those cacti, those opportunities really are there. I simply need to alter my focus so I’ll see them for what they are.

To do that I have to avoid both wallowing in my misery and fear, and step a few more paces outside the comfortable and familiar. After all, I know what I’ll find there; more of the same. And yet, I went dancing tonight (against my better judgement), and tried desperately to hold it together. Needless to say, all it took was one person asking “are you OK?” and I failed epicly. But to my surprise, I learned that it’s the next step in living my authenticity. After a lifetime of being strong and independent, I’m still learning not only how to be vulnerable, but that I’m allowed to be vulnerable. To hear my friend Judy tell it, the Universe is going to continue kicking my arse on this one until I stop fighting it and just let myself need other people.

Vulnerability and Independence are Not Mutually Exclusive

This may not seem like anything world-shaking to most of you, but for me, it’s scary as hell to have to depend on someone else. Though I know on a conscious level it doesn’t mean I have to give up my independence, on an egoistic level, my entire being is on high alert, flashing red lights, sirens, and throwing every safeguard I know at what it sees as a security breach. How can I possibly impose on anyone? They have their own problems to deal with. They don’t need to listen to me whine about mine, right?

To hear Judy tell it, I’m dead wrong on this one. This is where I learn to accept help, be it human or Divine. This is where I get the wake-up call that I can’t do it all on my own, no matter how tough and independent I think I am. Until I walk this walk, I can talk all I want to about living authentically, but until I expose that naked underbelly of vulnerability, I’m just another woman behind the mask.

When Our Dreams Scare Us Silly

I had a dream a couple of months ago that I was alone and close to starving. Most of my cats had died because I couldn’t afford to take them to the vet. It’s hard to accept that it wasn’t a premonition of Toby’s death even though I know spending more money on his care would have been unlikely to prolong a quality life for him. But a part of me lives in fear that since I’ve learned how much worse off I am financially, others will experience health problems to make my premonition a reality.That, above everything else would be most likely to have me giving up on it all, so of course, I can’t let that happen. All the more reason to increase my awareness of those lurking opportunities.

Taking Another Leap Outside My Comfort Zone

Still I’m looking forward to the 1000 Speakers Academy I’ll be volunteering at next week. There’s nothing quite so uplifting and inspiring as spending time with successful business owners who are passionate about what they do. And it might be just the place to not only help others but allow someone to help me too! Stay tuned for updates on that!

In Loving Gratitude

My gratitudes tonight are:

  1. I am grateful for my friends who are willing and able to help the Universe kick my butt when I need it.
  2. I am grateful for my lessons in vulnerability, even if I’m learning them, kicking and screaming the whole way.
  3. I am grateful for a young man named Adam who gave me such a high energy, fun, silly West Coast Swing tonight that it chased the blues away completely! (Some people dance WCS sexy and classy, and some of us are more of a Lucy Ricardo meets Mae West) Never again will I berate myself for not being the smooth, classy dancer I see other women being. My Authentic self is just perfect.
  4. I am grateful for being the silly, fun, sometimes irreverent with I am. Not everyone appreciates that in me, but then, I don’t need to please everyone either.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; health (me and my family, both human and furry, friends, and acquaintances too!), dancing, vulnerability, authenticity, inspiration, motivation, Universal butt kicks, friendship, love, giving and receiving, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

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.

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