I’ve been through a lot the last nine months. I’ve left a job, searched for new ones for what seemed like forever, moved back into my parents basement, entered into self-care that felt scary and vulnerable, joined a community that helps me take care of my soul, and so much more!
And through it all I’ve come a long way. I feel as though, in a certain sense, I am a new person. A lot of my old ways have fallen away, and I’m trying to adopt some new ways of living that help me align with the person I want to be. In my religious circle we would call this sanctification, but I’m happy to just call it me becoming who I was created to be. A big part for me of becoming who I am made it be has been owning who I am now.
I have always struggled a bit owning myself. I’ve felt that there are parts of me that I need to hide, and also I’ve thought there are things that I’m missing so instead of owning that I’ve tried the “fake it until you make it” lifestyle, and found that to be damaging to my soul as well. I found two selves working them out in my life, one a performer, the perfect self I would like to be, but who doesn’t exist because he always changes to meet the expectations and desires of whoever he was with, and therefore has no substance. And a deficient self who hid away in the dark places of my soul and left to fester in the destructive patterns and thoughts native to him. Both of them believed that performance earned love and acceptance, and both thought that it was just out of reach. The deficient self knew all of the dirty laundry of my life and believed that because of it I could never be both known by another and loved by them, so it had to hide and deny to protect me. And the performing self thought that it had to be perfect, or at least the best around, to be loved. This caused me to never slow down, never cut myself slack, and never admit failure, because if I did any of those it would disqualify me from the love I desired. Another problem was that the performing self knew the deficient self and had made it his goal to balance the scales between the two, but no matter how good he was there was no hope to put things right.
As I’ve exposed these truths about myself to the light of reality I’ve been looking at how to become one whole person instead of two broken people. In counseling we called this integration. It’s how we are able to hold all our experiences in a single narrative and see how it has formed us. It is about accepting both the light and the dark within us, without having one dominating or disqualifying the other. But I don’t see integration as mushing together the two broken parts of myself. If I did that I would just be one wholly broken person, instead of one whole person. Both sides of who I am needed to be healed before they could come together.
What has been healing for me is exposing the lie that both sides of me believed, that love requires performance. And that just isn’t true. Love only truly works when it comes free of charge. And I’ve been experiencing this lately; from friends – both old and new, from family, and from God. And the love hasn’t just been for one of my sides, but both. When I’ve opened up about how messed up my deficient self is I’ve been met with love and understanding, and when I’ve been real about how much of what I might do for people is so that they might show me some love and acceptance, I’ve been told that I don’t have to do all that for love, but just be myself. And hearing that heals my soul.
It gives me courage to really face myself. Not my divided self, but my whole self, owning that I am both really good and really bad, and that that’s okay. Not to get stuck in destructive patterns, but to finally be able to move past those destructive patterns by living in truth rather than trying to hide in illusion. And that’s the goal for all of us, to accept who we are, see how much we’re loved there, and have that fuel the life transformation that we so desire.
In it together friends.