Are You Running From Yourself?

I am not
sure how it has worked for the rest of you, but growing up in the 1950's and 1960's in a small town in the mid-west, the daughter of a minister, was pretty limiting. Certain behaviors were expected. Certain boxes were expected to be embraced. Conformity was not only expected, but required. We only had only one TV station and it fed us a limited diet of what was the norm at the time. I had little exposure to other ethnicities and there was no internet yet to open doors. 

When what we feed our children is limited, it is very hard for them to dream of anything beyond what they know. That was me. I was deeply unhappy, didn't fit in, and just assumed something was wrong with me as everyone else, including my brothers, seemed to move through life just fine.  It was only when my brothers and I had adult conversations I realized they had been struggling with the limits as well, they just hid it better. 


Looking back on my life from where I am now, I feel sorrow for the years spent finding my way from those limits to embracing a journey of self-acceptance and self-love.  It wasn't an easy journey, and it was fueled by fear and shame.  I truly believed if people knew the real me, they wouldn't love me. Instead the opposite was true. I held most people at arms length, never allowing those relationships the freedom to develop. I am so thankful for those who embraced me anyway. 

The fall of 2022, Sue Dumais, a mentor I have been working with for many years, asked if I would like to write a small personal piece for a book she would come to title We Are All Healers. I was stumped. I wasn't a healer, why would she ask me to be a part.  My heart, however, kept whispering in my ear, "Say yes.”  I put on my big girl panties and dove in.

Despite my initial trepidation, as I began to write, words literally flowed out of me in an uninterrupted stream.  The experience proved personally transformative. I wrote about the power of words to heal as a gift for others, but first came an unexpected gift for myself.  I gained deeper insight on my journey to become who I was meant to be, and how writing was one way the universe guided my steps.  I also realized my journey wasn't finished. I hadn't arrived yet. Looking ahead through the mist of time I could sense a hidden future still coming my way.

As I was beta reading the final  manuscript, I was drawn in by Sue's words, as well as all the stories shared by guest writers (19 including me).  While I am sure each time I read this powerful book I will be handed a different truth, that day Sue's words touched me deeply. Just reading them again causes me to have physical reaction.

Then it hit me deep in my heart and I started to cry. I realized I was running from myself. I was afraid of myself.... I had spent my entire life running from the gift that I was meant to share with the world." - Sue Dumais, We Are All Healers

I spent most of my life feeling shame, trying to hide who I was. My mind raced, I had no patience, I was overly curious about people and their lives, I didn't seem to fit into a lot of social situations. What I thought about was different than those around me. I felt like a stranger in a strange land. However, with Sue's guidance, along with the lessons handed me while interviewing and writing, I came to realize I was exactly the person I was meant to be. Who I am had a purpose. It was up to me to embrace that purpose. Simple.

Self-acceptance led me to others walking a similar path, to becoming surrounded by supportive friends who are also unique.  They each have their own quirks and oddities. They embrace themselves as they are and are pursuing their passions without apology.  When you come to a place you no longer expect those you love to think or believe the same way as you do, life becomes full of surprises. Diversity is not a weakness, it is humanity's strength.

My journey is not always comfortable, and those old feelings of not fitting in still arise. Sometimes there are people who don't find me their cup of tea, something I always find hard to deal with.  However, I continue to learn to let go and embrace the pull of where the universe is leading me.  I may not always know where I am headed, but I continue to say yes.  

Time to let go of societal and familial expectationsLove others in your life as they are, but offer the same to yourself. You are here for a reason.  Your uniqueness has a reason. Say yes to loving yourself. Say yes to the life that is calling you.  There will be highs and lows, joy and hard lessons, but the what lies ahead will be worth every single twist and turn.