Taking off the mask(s) we wear
This weekend, for whatever reason was a collection of moments that challenged and changed me. It started off with a struggle between my toddler and myself (something silly in hindsight) that caused me to start reflecting on many of the aspects of my life. The conclusion that I came to what that I have been living in the present wearing the masks of the past.
What I mean by that is throughout my childhood there was an incredible amount of turmoil, we lived a very unconventional and often dysfunctional life filled with drama and chaos and my escape was to literally be anywhere but where I was at. I spent days, weeks sometimes months at friends houses, worked one, two or three jobs to stay busy, made honour roll and took extra curricular activities to keep me "busy". What being busy meant to me was an escape from the reality of my day-to-day life. I would get up early to leave the house, spending all day away only to come back and hide out in my room or have a group of friends over, never allowing myself to be alone with my life. When I wasn't working or in school I was seeking social adventure wherever it could be found.
Growing up I thought I truly enjoyed being so busy, after all I grew up in a very small town with little to do so why not try to keep as busy as possible? The realization that I have come to though is that I have developed a bad habit from childhood that is so engrained in me I often don't recognize it as detrimental. I have busied myself for years to avoid having to actually deal with life and that has left me in a situation as a grown who doesn't know themselves very well, can't often sit still and is constantly "on the move".
I have been called an opportunist before and I took it as a great compliment because to me it meant that I was willing to jump on any opportunity that came my way. I was adventurous and free, flying by the seat of my pants where others were settling down I was a roaming gypsy. Often I have said that the gypsy blood runs deep through me as my own mother exhibited many of the same traits as me, settling briefly to raise babies and then as soon as we were old enough she was back on the move and hasn't stopped since. Looking back now though, I realize that instead of actually seizing the opportunity because of what it presented to me I was taking it as an opportunity to recreate myself time and time again, often in a new place where no one knew my story or background. The constant change was like a drug to me, I lived for the high of starting over where I could be anyone or anything other than who I actually was.
Sitting with myself this weekend I came to realize that though I have many people in my life that I love spending time with, being super social isn't actually something that I enjoy rather it is something that I have conditioned myself to, a habit that I have created for myself lasting most of my life. The problem with being so busy all of the time, is that when the time comes for rest or reflection the silence of self has become uncomfortable and scary. Sitting alone with no one other than myself, my thoughts and my feelings is about as terrifying of a task that I can think of. Realizing that I in fact, after 32 years still have no real idea who I am, and finding out that most of what I thought I knew about myself isn't actually me but is my defence mechanism was a real eye opener.
For so long I craved the attention of others, wanted and needed to be liked by so many and took on so much to ensure that I always had people who if they didn't like me, would at least need me because I have always been the dependable one. That person that no matter the length of time between speaking, you could always count on to come running when you asked for help. I was the token doormat friend who wore false confidence like most teenage boys wear cheap cologne. I pretended I was ok when I was constantly one step off the ledge, cheerful to the point of irritating in the presence of others and deeply sad and reclusive when alone. No part of me was authentic, I had no idea how to be myself, or how to even identify that I wasn't being myself other than a constant nagging feeling that something wasn't quite right with my life or how I was living it.
I began to travel and change jobs, cities, friends and appearances as I moved across the country from place to place. Thinking that the emptiness that I felt was because I never "fit in" where I was and so I would move along in search of the next great adventure or geographical place that might fill the void within. Over the past few years I have done a lot of soul searching and healing to get to a point that I can now recognize when I am out of congruency with myself for the most part, however it took a series of small events these past few days to really realize the truth about me. I am a homebody, I love being at home in silence, no talking, no music, no TV just me, my thoughts and my breath. The mask of social butterfly that I have worn for so long has been discarded and in its place sits the real me, an introvert who is learning how to just BE.
There is a certain freedom that comes when you can truly identify and remove the mask(s) we hide behind, being vulnerable and raw though difficult, certainly has its advantages.