This Is My Life

For the first 40 years of my life, I lived the way everyone else, okay not everyone, mostly just my family felt I should.

God, I can’t believe it took me that long to figure that out!

Now here I am, age 53, and still discovering more and more about myself.

For instance, when in unfamiliar surroundings, I’m shy.  I walk in other people’s shadows. I speak softly, too afraid to raise my voice even loud enough for someone close by to hear me. If someone appears to be angry with me, I walk carefully, watch what I say, and rarely ever ask them why or what is wrong. I have a very hard time saying ‘no’ to people even when I know I should.  It is only when a threat to my life or my daughter’s life becomes obvious do I act and then it is to remove whatever is threatening us from our circle. I don’t believe in god, not in the way mainstream church teaches us about god and I knew this deep down long before I was ever old enough to understand that I thought differently. Well actually, it wasn’t until recently that I realized I was in denial about what I believed in and how I thought about life, love, sex and so many other things in this life.

How did I get here? I have often asked myself that question and come up with no real answer.  All I know is I lived my life, and somewhere in that life, knowledge seeped into the gelatinous matter we call our brain, and my soul answered.

I recently asked someone if they had ever lived in an environment where everything seemed to just feel wrong. He answered in the affirmative.

Well that was my life.  Everywhere I went, whether it was at home with my parents and my siblings.  Whether it was at my grandparents or other relatives, or whether it was at church or even at the grave site of my grandmother after she passed away when I was six or seven years old. Everywhere I went there was this feeling of ‘wrongness’. As if what was presented to me wasn’t really what was before me, wasn’t how it should be.

In church we were taught to love one another. They spoke of unconditional love. At home, at friends, at relatives, no matter where I went, the word love was never spoken. The last time I felt my father hold my hand was probably around age four or five and my memory is of only one moment in my life. Around the same age I remember sitting on his lap. No other memories after that of sitting on his lap.  Then there was the wonderful memory (yes, sarcasm implied), of him hanging my training bra and panties set from the light shade above our kitchen table on my birthday for all my brothers to see, to stay there until we had the cake and ice cream.  Even if the incident had been full of love, it would have still been just as embarrassing, but still no words of love.

So where was all this love the church spoke of? About the only time I felt it was when I took my hikes into the woods behind our house. I could feel the trees embrace me when no human ever did.  I could feel the trees whisper their words of love, when no human spoke them to me. I never felt alone in those woods except when another human being, like one of my brothers or one or more of my parents or all of them were with me or rather when I was with them.  When I couldn’t go to the woods, I pushed everything I felt down deep inside never allowing myself to feel it or even acknowledge it.  When I stood by my grandmother’s grave site and looked all around me, at everyone’s dry eyes, and felt my own tears running down my cheeks, I bucked up and stopped them, swallowing the lump that was in my throat.  I knew she was gone forever, the sweet grandmother who talked to me and showed me love even though she didn’t speak it, and yet I had to deny the tears I wanted to shed because I knew I would miss this wonderful woman, all because no one else was shedding a tear (it was wrong).

At the age of 53, I sit here wondering where all the love is and I know it is still deep inside of me yearning to be let loose.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love my daughter, and I express it to her not just in actions but also in words.  She has no doubt of my love.  The love I speak of is the love for my parents, and for my siblings.  And for that one man who truly gets me and doesn’t shy away from wanting to know all there is to know about me.  But even though I’ve never met him, I know that love is there waiting for him.

These things I have learned about myself, and so much more. There is a bottomless well of knowledge to be gained about who I am and I sometimes feel I have only just scratched the surface. As I have discovered things, I find myself changing.  I find myself willing to take the risk of opening my heart again.  First to learn and accept myself for who I am.  Secondly, to learn to express the love I feel for myself, as well as for other people.  I couldn’t not love my daughter.  I couldn’t not tell her I love her. She has given me the strength to open the door and find out who I am and realize I really do like the person I am becoming.

Change is not a one-time thing.  It is a never ending process. I will always be ‘becoming’.  Finally my world no longer has that ‘wrongness’ feeling to it. I learned I am intelligent.  I have my own mind. I can take what others tell me and decide if it fits who I am and if not to chuck it away or mold it until it fits.

This is my world. If anyone doesn’t like it, then most likely they need to spend more time looking at their own world.  This is my life after all, not theirs.

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