The masks that keep us safe.

I have a confession to make.

I am a complete fraud.

WHEW.

That felt good.

***

Here’s the deal. I’m still struggling. Pretty frequently! It just doesn’t look like it as much anymore. And that’s not because I’m lying or hiding it… my struggle is internal and with myself.

My old self.

It’s a quiet struggle. A struggle of contemplation and introspection and questioning EVERY damn thought and feeling that comes along.

“Is this true?”

“Is this a fact or a fear?”

“Does this situation warrant this reaction or is something from my past being stirred up in me?”

This is what it means to “do the work.”

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it many, many more times… healing is a bitch.

***

So how does any of this make me a fraud?

I’ve noticed over the past year and a half that I go through cycles in my healing. There are times when I’m feeling super empowered and excited about my future and have this FIRE inside for helping others discover those things too. That is when I tend to post things on social media and on my blog.

The other side of that cycle is just a shit ton of confusion. Who even AM I? When in my life was I ever the “real” me? Am I the real me now?

During those times, I still do a lot of journaling but I definitely hole up for a bit. And I honestly don’t even realize I’m doing it until I start to come out of it.

I re-emerge from my cave, blinking & shielding my eyes from the blinding sunlight, and realize I’m not the same person I was when I went in there.

***

Each cycle keeps revealing more of me. To myself. I’m shedding the walls, the masks, the identities I clung to. All the variations of me, the personas I played in order to feel like I was loved and belonged.

I feel like I’ve been a fraud my whole goddamn life.

(For instance, the good Christian wife version of me would’ve never uttered that word. While the 18-22 year old version of me cussed like a fucking sailor. Like most things, the truth is found somewhere in the middle.)

Does ANYONE know the real me? How can they, when I’m not even sure yet? Have I just been LYING to people my whole life, unintentionally?!?

Yeah… Kind of.

See? FRAUD.

***

The key word though is “unintentionally.” 95% of our life is run by our subconscious programming. Which means that until we start to question ourselves, our lives are mainly run on auto-pilot, and our brain’s job is to keep us safe using any means necessary.

In my case, safety meant being invisible. Not rocking the boat. Being mediocre; not too much, not too little. Being quiet and being small. Hiding in plain sight.

Those coping mechanisms served a purpose and I’m thankful for them. They did keep me safe. But I had to continually betray myself to achieve that safety. Reclaiming myself and standing tall in my truth, taking off the masks… that is where the real struggle lies now.

***

I don’t want to only write about the happy things and the triumphs and my shiny new optimism. I don’t want to only share the good and keep my struggles hidden away in the journal on my nightstand.

It is pretty scary though. Authenticity, vulnerability, living openly and sharing what most people don’t want to talk about. I LOVE talking about it, probably too much at times. I’m what they call an “over-sharer.”

The fear creeps in all the same though. Fear of abandonment. Judgment. Will any of my friends even like me now? Who will I have left after I REALLY reveal myself? Everyone who’s ever known me is going to think I’ve lost my damn mind…

***

The excitement of creating a new life is often tempered with the grief of leaving the old one behind. Even if it’s for the best and you KNOW it, we still tend to want to cling to familiarity. And there are pieces of the old life that you didn’t realize you were going to have to let go.

You think you can just undo a little bit. The word “deconstruction” gets used a lot these days. As if I’m going in with a drill and a hammer, taking out nails and screws one by one. Strategically removing this piece over here and that one over there…

When in reality, a fucking wrecking ball just plows through your life and takes everything down. Not only do you have to start from scratch, you have a giant fucking mess to sort through and clean up first.

I’m still trying to find ME in that mess. I’m trying to be okay with the confusion. I’m prioritizing my truth, my needs, my vision for my life, rather than conforming to who anyone else wants me to be.

***

Even in my writing… I can feel it shifting. Sometimes I get too caught up in thinking about who I’m writing to. Will they read it? Will they like it? Will it help them?

I’ve reached the “fuck it” zone of healing. I’m just gonna do my thing. Not everyone is going to like it and THAT’S OKAY.

Maybe I have been a fraud… my people-pleasing past meant that I shape-shifted into whoever I needed to be at the time. It boggles my mind that I lived that way for 35 years.

But no more.

Thank god for the wrecking ball.

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