I don’t like the term “Inner Child.” To me, it conjures images of Wall Street executives ripping off their ties to go snowboarding or jumping through mud puddles. The concept of the “True Self,” though? That’s something I can really get behind. Somewhere under all these onion layers is that kernel of Truth which is the Real Me. From what I’ve read in Adult Children literature so far, the terms seem to be used interchangeably. It feels uncomfortable to me, but I think that is because I recognize my adult child and she is pretty much everything I hate about myself. I’ve spent my whole life trying to make everyone treat me like an adult, but I have absolutely no idea how to actually BE an adult because I keep reacting to life like I did as a child. I am stubborn and petulant and obnoxious and needy because I am ridiculously riddled with fear and self-loathing and I do NOT want you to see that part of me.
So, yesterday was a great day. I had lunch with a woman who I just adore, but hadn’t seen since before Christmas. She is like all the good and all the damaged parts of me lived unapologetically. I feel completely comfortable sitting naked with all my hurt and shame and idiocy on display in her presence. I have never been this at ease with any female ever in my life. I just want to put her in my pocket and carry her with me everywhere so that I can be naked and unapologetic all the time.
THEN, last night, another friend and I drove up to Austin to hear Glennon from Momastery speak. We got there all late so we missed a bit and had to sit near the rafters, but I think that’s how it was supposed to be. I got a lot more enjoyment out of getting to know my friend better over the course of a 3 hour car ride than I did in fangirling over a blogger. (And I so did. You know I walked up to meet her being all, “Be cool, Laurie. She’s just a person just like everyone else,” but I left that place thinking, “Why did I have to be like that? Now she thinks I’m such an idiot.”)
But that’s not the point. I ended up having the same awkward experience with both of these women in the same day. We were standing in a relatively long line, so we had a fun conversation while we waited. About halfway through each conversation, my friend turned to the person behind us who was obviously there alone and drew them into our conversation. Both times I think, “Dammit, you’re my friend, you’re here with me, you’re going to talk to me!” And both times I realize with this thought that I am an inconsiderate, insecure asshole, trying to collect friends like charms on a charm bracelet rather than to actually be a friend to someone.
But THAT isn’t even the point! The point is that I recognized this, made a mental note, and then set it aside so that I could enjoy my time with my friend instead of sitting there, beating myself up about “why can’t I be nice like her?” And bonus, I actually got to be kind to two strangers. Even though I didn’t initiate the kindness, I allowed myself to follow my friends’ lead. Both times, three people walked away smiling instead of me being pissy and introverted or the stranger getting annoyed with being stuck behind these two girls who were talking and laughing all loud in line. Yes, I still have a long way to go, but this is major progress for me.
So what does all that have to do with Tika Tonu and all the various things I have swimming around in my head right now? I don’t know. This post went in a very different direction than I was heading when I sat down. Maybe I just felt I needed to distract you with something that resembles truth before I revealed what was really bugging me. Maybe by this time you will have all gone away bored so you won’t get to the parts that are actually hard for me to say.
Last year sucked for me. It was a time of introversion and feeling overly exposed. I am not a shy person and I have never had a problem sharing my thoughts and opinions with people, but something happened that freaked me out and I went quiet. I felt horribly over-exposed. Even though I had done nothing wrong, bad things were happening in my life. I felt like all eyes were on me, judging me. I began doubting myself – even in regards to things I had been so sure about for so long. I felt like an empty shell, like the Operative at the end of Serenity: “There is nothing left to see.” And just like the Operative, I was ashamed because I had backed the wrong horse. Everything I knew was a lie and I had spouted that bullshit everywhere. I had made it my life’s work.
But that was not from God. And that was not True Self speaking. I had ventured outside my little comfort zone and I got burned. Things did not turn out like I had envisioned; that does not mean that I was wrong to step outside my comfort zone. Nor does it mean that I have to immortalize myself in things I’ve said. I have to speak the Truth where I stand. Tomorrow, I may stand somewhere else and that is okay. That doesn’t make today’s truth any less valid for me today. I have lived a lot of lies because it was the only way I knew how to survive. It has only been in retrospect that I have been able to identify the lie in the truth.
Just as life seemed to be conspiring to destroy me last year, it seems that life is conspiring to give me courage this year. My seemingly empty shell was rather a cocoon and I am slowly emerging – transformed, but as yet unable to fly. I feel like my Inner Child somehow woke up and has found herself disgusted by all these onion layers I’ve used to “protect” her with. I’m saying things again. I am writing and reading and thinking again. I am poking around in my psyche again. I am actually seeing my bullshit and refusing to accept it. I don’t see everything, of course, but I feel like I’m hacking away at a huge chunk of the crap that I’ve built up on myself.
And I don’t know where this is coming from. Obviously, it is somehow from God because what I am doing takes a tremendous amount of faith, but it doesn’t feel like any God I’ve ever known before. Maybe it’s just the end of my rope. Maybe I just finally saw that absolutely nothing can protect me from the hurts that life inflicts so I might as well just LIVE. Maybe I remembered walking down the street with a Reluctant Messiah and discussing the Parabola, that I chose this life specifically, with all its hills and valleys. Maybe it was Tika Tonu. Maybe I just realized that in four years it will be four years later, my kids will be four years older and I will be either in the same damned place for four years or I could be in an entirely different place altogether. Or most likely it was all of that together with God and the universe conspiring in my favor.
Whatever it was, I definitely needed last year’s mud so that I could grow lotuses this year. What that’s going to look like I have no idea, and honestly I really don’t want to know right now. I’m just going to step out naked, putting one foot in front of the other, letting the onion layers fall away and ultimately testing my wings.
And I am going to push “publish,” walk away and let this truth stand as it is in this moment in time.