"Authenticity requires vulnerability, transparency and integrity.."~Janet Louise Stephenson
This is a difficult blog for me to write but I know how important it is, if I am going to write on authenticity, I am going to have to be authentic. So, here goes..
I used to be a bully..
When I was in high school I couldn't wait for the new "batch" of freshman to come in so I could spend my days being "better," "tougher" and "cooler" than they were. I would walk down the halls as if I was a total badass, I would give them dirty looks and say things that weren't nice, in short, I was a mean girl. I was a mean girl because I was terrified, I had been bullied in elementary school and toward the end I was fucking miserable. I would come home crying almost everyday because none of the girls liked me, I had one girlfriend, ONE.. I have never experienced so much pain and loneliness in my life, I was a complete outcast and it hurt. The girls would tease me day in and day out, so much so that I wanted to die, they were mean and they were awful. It was at this time that I learned how to use my looks and my mature "knowledge (my brother was in high school and was passing on all kinds of "interesting" information)" to get attention from the boys and I certainly wasn't hurting for it. I hiked up my skirt (Catholic school gave me all kinds of room to get in trouble), wore makeup when I wasn't supposed to, laughed my ass off in the back row during mass (oops..) and had my first kiss behind the greenhouse on campus.. I was trouble. This gave many of the girls even more reason to hate me.
High school was payback, I went to an all girls school, gathered friends like me who were tough and bitchy and "cool"..Mind you, there were lots of mean girls in my school, they were mean to me and I was mean back to them, these were by far the toughest years of my life..I cannot describe the deep level of sadness and insecurity I felt. I hated my body, I had multiple eating disorders and would do anything and I mean anything for attention, I hated myself. I felt completely competitive and never good enough. My reputation suffered in ways that are painful for me to look at, I spent my entire high school career trying to overcome my reputation with the boys, a reputation which came for reasons I did not earn. And, the longer the reputation stuck with me the more I would do things to perpetuate it. In short, I was a mess. My father wasn't here to guide me, I was being raised by a single mom and a step dad who just happened to walk in at a very formative time in my life, the damage had already been done. My adolescence and my teenage years were extremely painful but looking back they couldn't have been more necessary for me to become the person I am today. These experiences shaped me, they gave me resilience, strength, self reliance, courage and most importantly, fearlessness.
I share this story with you because its important for you to know how I have lived for most of my life, I have struggled. In fact, for every moment I strive to be a better person there is a mirror of my past just waiting to catch up with me. The difference now, I am not afraid to look in that mirror, I am not afraid to see what its showing me, I am not afraid to own, acknowledge, honor and live in a different way, I am not afraid to make a different, more self empowering choice. I am not afraid to dive into those shadows that no longer define me but instead, give me what I need to be the most empowered version of myself. Perspective is everything..
Until I began to get really committed to my spiritual life and take my path on this planet seriously I lived in a way that was completely self absorbed. I prided myself on my ability to draw on my "victim" at any given moment so I didn't have to take responsibility for my life, my actions, my behavior and, most importantly, to look deeply enough to notice how my actions were affecting other people. Blame was such an easy way out, so much easier than being truthful and allowing myself to feel the fear that I was living with every moment of every day. I could blame the world and everyone else for my problems, my anger and my "wicked" bitchiness (which rears it head sometimes and if you've been a recipient of it, I apologize, sincerely).
And now, I DO this work with my entire soul, with my entire being, until my heart spills over and I am leveled, I now allow myself to go there and it is the scariest, most rewarding work I have EVER done.
In fact, it hasn't been until recently, within the past few years, that I have put down my armor enough to be really authentic with myself, my process, my life and with those around me. There is nothing that feels more scary than to let go in a way that you risk being seen for all of who you are. As I mentioned earlier, at a young age I had to protect myself, being a product of divorce, moving away from my extended family and losing my brother to college when I was a teenager took its toll on me and I became very jaded. I had to get tough and because of that tough exterior I struggled with friendships and seriously struggled with relationships.
I blamed the world and everyone in it until one day I met a man and lost my soul. This was by far the most defining and excruciating moment of my entire life. He..Changed..Me.. he was the epitome of my relationship with everyone around me, but most importantly, the one with myself.
I lost my identity, I had NO IDEA who I was, I gave away my soul, I sold OUT.. I sold myself OUT, completely. I was gone, spinning, lost, and left wondering what the fucking hell happened and who the hell was I??? I was FORCED to look at myself in a way I never knew I could, he was my locomotive and I was leveled. The quality of the dark abyss I was in felt like tar and quick sand and a full body cast, I was broken and alone..It was as if he pushed me off a cliff. I was so busy blaming him for pushing me I had no idea that I could (and would) grow wings on the way down. He was my biggest gift. He gave me back to myself in a way I would never have found without him.
After it ended I actually believed I wouldn't make it, it took me six months just to get over the shock that it was over. I believed with my entire being that I would be better off dead, I would be BETTER..OFF..DEAD. (If I really take the time to consider that statement and what it actually means, the level of shame it brings up is pretty fucking epic.) When I consider the depth of how selfish it would be to take myself away from this world and the people who love me so deeply it paralyzes me..Not to mention the fact that I would have given all of my power to him, all of it.
So, what did I do? I pulled myself up from the depths of my own abyss and I made a commitment to DO..THE..WORK. I knew in my heart that I would have no choice but to do whatever it took to heal and I also knew it was going to be UGLY. And I knew I had no other choice..
So why do I speak about authenticity? What does it take to be authentic, to live a transparent life, a life that is true to yourself yet living in a way that shows others the way? Why authenticity and why do I believe it's the foundation of the new paradigm? And why is authenticity probably the most important value for us to acquire if we are to live in a way that is true, that is vulnerable, caring, honest, real, ethical, kind, loving, honoring, and really the ONLY way we will survive if we want to have happiness and REAL relationships?? I speak about this because it is, in my opinion the TRUE path of the human being..
Authenticity requires us to be brutally honest with ourselves in a way that can be excruciating, it requires us to look at ourselves in a way that is raw, in a way that is terrifying and in a way that feels deeply unsafe. I had to learn to stop relying on my habit of blame, to let go of allowing myself to choose the victim role and to really take responsibility for my ENTIRE experience on this planet. And what that meant, and still means, is looking at every dark corner, every shadow, every belief and every movement I make. Every judgement, every trigger and every moment of jealousy or "comparing" becomes an opportunity, it becomes a moment where I can either give in to the unhealthy reactions that any of these emotions bring up in me or I can STOP and when I stop, breathe and listen I can find the piece inside of me that feels scared, rejected, alone, abandoned, not good enough. I can stop and sit with that little girl who so desperately wants to be loved, I can STOP and listen and embrace that fear inside of me that I will never measure up, that I will never be okay that I will never, and I mean never, be seen. And what I realized is that in order for others to see me, I must allow myself to be seen, it is the ONLY way.
Authenticity requires us to be honest with other people, even when its uncomfortable. But most importantly, it requires us to be honest with ourselves. It requires a deep level of discernment and trust in our own inner knowing, which often means walking away from situations and people that no longer serve us and this right here, will be some of the hardest work we've ever done, and I mean EVER. It means listening deeply, especially when we want to enter a relationship (friend or lover) that speaks to our wounds, that coddles our inner child and enables our victim. I used to spend so much time trying to control other people and my external circumstances just so I could feel comfortable. Everyone else needed to change so I didn't have to.. How often has this been your truth? And, do you have the strength to admit it?
Authenticity means having the willingness to be in relationships that challenge you, that speak the truth.. It means stepping IN to the pain and discomfort and sitting with it when all you want to do is run away, get defensive, get angry, blame, drink.. It means being willing to OWN your shit and take responsibility even when it feels like you want to die. It means checking in with your feelings and being truthful about them even when you're afraid. It means apologizing when your ego wants nothing more than to hate. It means making a different choice when all you want to do is run, and run fast, back into your comfort zone that ultimately keeps you stuck. It means being truthful about how you feel in relationships (ugh) even when it feels like the scariest moment of your entire life. It means having to walk away from something when the pain of staying becomes more excruciating than the pain of giving up everything you know..
And sometimes you're going to fuck up, you're going to get angry, you're going to blame, you're going to treat other people like shit, you're going to react and you're going to get ugly..And, guess what? So is everyone else, and this is what it means to be human..This work is not for the faint of heart but remember, we cannot create a life that is "out there" the life we want is "in here" deep in here, in the shadows and the depths, it is here in the pain, the perceived "weakness," it is here in the places that feel unsafe, in the places where we are afraid to venture, it is here in the deep truth of what lies within us.
Don't you think its time for us? Don't you think we deserve to be truly happy, beyond the surface, beyond the comfort zone, beyond the shadows that we try so hard to hide? I know its time for me, this is the life I truly choose to live... How about you, are YOU ready?