Positive Lessons I Learned From “The King and I”
Whenever I feel afraid, I hold my head erect
And whistle a happy tune, So no one will suspect I’m afraid.
I’m not always positive or upbeat. Life kicks me around my fair share. But I’ve learned to keep a positive attitude even through the wildest storms. Unlike what today seems like another lifetime ago, I don’t mask my feelings. I feel them, acknowledge them, love them, then try to let the bad stuff go. The positive affirmations I share here and on social media aren’t meant to cover anything up, but to remind myself where I might currently be is only temporary. As long as I focus on the lesson rather than wallowing in the pain, I know I’ll navigate the current hazards and reach the other side only slightly the worse for wear.
It wasn’t always this way. The lessons I share today came at great cost. In learning them, I had to let go of the person I thought I was in order to become the one I was meant to be. There were times I was certain it wasn’t worth the pain.
Whether it was by choice or by design, I pushed through anyway, and today, I’m grateful I did. Not only have I gained an amazing group of friends who have essentially replaced the family which was one of the casualties of my emergence, I’ve found the child within, giving her the love and appreciation I withheld for decades. We are both richer for it.
Breaking Old Molds: Painful but Rewarding
I come from a long line of women who nurture their misery like it’s something to be cherished and protected. Some even raised it to deity status, so in my defense, I didn’t know better. But as I got older and interacted with people from other families; other backgrounds, I had plenty of opportunity to learn. It was my choice to remain in the dark hole I mistook for the warmth and comfort of the family womb. In truth, it was only a comfort as long as I followed their rules and lived my life within those confines.
Those rules proved to be structured in direct opposition to my own wants, needs, and talents. It was an untenable situation I’d either have to leave, or give up on the person I needed to be and the child who was crying desperately for release. In the end, I gave in to the child and gave up the family into which I’d never fit anyway.
I’d like to say it was a clean break and I’ve never looked back. That’s only partially true. I opened the door 20 years in when they offered me a chance to return to the family fold. It didn’t take long for me to figure out the price was higher than I was willing to pay. Just as I’d outgrown the friends I had 20-30 years ago, I’d outgrown most of my blood relations too. It’s no reflection on any of them. We simply don’t fit any more. We’re pieces of entirely different puzzles now. In many ways, we probably always were.
Accept, Acknowledge, Release
These days, I acknowledge pieces of my past as they come up for review. I know there are feelings I still need to feel before they can be released and forgiven. There’s only one way through that storm, and it’s straight through. Fortunately, it does get easier, and most of the feelings I’m called upon to feel are less painful; less intense than the ones when I first tore down the walls.
At least they feel that way. Maybe I’ve just learned they can no longer really hurt me, or I’ve gotten stronger. In the process of becoming my true self, I’ve learned a lot of things. One is resilience. What might have broken me before is often no more than a small scratch or surface wound now; easily healed and quickly forgotten. The walls I once thought protected me actually bound me to the pain longer than necessary. Without the walls, what I don’t want or need dissipates more quickly.
Once the positive attitude was entirely an act. A way to convince people to leave me alone so my wounds could heal unimpeded. But like Anna in “The King and I”, after awhile, what I feigned became true, not because the world changed, but because I believed it with all my heart, and made it real.
A lot of folks these days are trying to discredit the “fake it ’til you make it” point of view. For them, I suppose it’s not the right approach, but it worked quite well for me with one qualification. You can only fake it for a short time. Eventually, you have to either have made it so, or revisit your expectations and revised them to fit who and what you truly are deep down inside.
Flipping the Script While Staying True to My Calling
I’ve revised and restructured many things in the last decade or so, but one thing remains constant. I am a writer. It’s what I was meant to be, and what I will ultimately excel at. No matter how many times I’m knocked down, discouraged, or criticized, it remains my singular focus. Even when I go months writing nothing but blog posts and morning pages, I’m still a writer. I’m still writing.
The fact that I’m writing constantly is evidence enough I am living my story; walking my talk. I’ll admit, the last year or so I’ve gotten into a bit of a rut, though the amount of words I’ve pounded out might belie that observation. I’ve neglected my memoir and more, my fiction writing. I think I needed to get some kind of structure with writing of any kind before I could get back on that horse. But with blog posts always 3 weeks or more ahead, Medium posts scheduled a month or better in advance, and chapters of “Sasha’s Journey” going up on ChapterBuzz with some regularity, I’m ready to up my game.
I want to do another NaNoWriMo, but more, I want to finish everything I’ve started, and actually publish something. I know that means focusing on things like building a platform, and learning how to publish and market my work. I feel, after all the roads I’ve traveled; all the words I’ve written, it’s well past time to point my trusty charger in that direction. Just typing those words makes me feel inspired, empowered, and energized, which tells me I’ve finally found the right mental state for my higher aspirations. It’s been a long time coming, and in a lot of ways, I’ve faked myself right into what I always wanted to be when I grew up.
My positive attitude may not be a constant thing, even today (but then, whose is?). It is, however, very real, and comes from the depths of my no longer frozen heart. May it inspire others to let loose the chains of their own checkered past and follow their dreams.
With Gratitude Every Step of the Way
My gratitudes today are:
- I’m grateful for the family who raised me to recognize I didn’t belong, and to the family who has adopted me because I do.
- I’m grateful for the gift of writing. It’s gotten me through some of the worst times in my life, and helps me fully appreciate the best ones.
- I’m grateful for friendships that have become family; people who accept the weird, moody, quirky, hermity person I am without reservation.
- I’m grateful for dancing. It’s brought me my tribe, given me an outlet, and is a healthy passion.
- I’m grateful for abundance; love, friendship, cats to love, electricity, running water, ample healthy food, family by choice, music, 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