I look at life as a growth journey. At this point I am obviously still trying to understand who it is that I am and what beyond being a “good mom” and semi-adequate housekeeper, I have to offer myself. I love intellectual challenges – how do I surround my under educated self with those of a like mind? I am highly curious – is there a good use for that? I most certainly have a tendency to think out loud, i.e. trying on my ideas for myself and others verbally. I despise confrontation – how do I stand up for myself either without confrontation or at least stop avoiding standing up for myself due to the fear of confrontation?
I really do feel that I have lost myself along the way (the most common “Biggest Loser” comment, by the way), but more than that, I feel like I have never really known myself. I have always been the Gumby person – trying to fit in, but never really sure how to, yet thinking if I just try hard enough…
So I am a burbling mass of confusion, uncertainty and a huge unknown. You would think after the drama of the last 10 years or so that I would have something more than questions, but I guess I didn’t even have those before. I am just so worried that I have let a huge chunk of my life escape without even really knowing who I could be. One of my intellectual curiosities was what would the Renaissance painters have painted if there had not been the pressure to produce religious art? I have the same curiosity about myself – who would I have been if I had not been trying to be who I thought everyone wanted me to be?
Response – March 2012
I am reaping the rewards of continuing to stretch and grow even when it is painful. When I had physical therapy on my knee post-surgically, the therapist told me it would be the most painful when breaking up the scar tissue. Breaking up the emotional scar tissue is at least equally painful. Sticking with that painful process has offered rewards that are beginning to change my perspective and allowing joy to enter my vocabulary again.
How do I stand up for myself? First, I have discovered that it does not require confrontation, just boundaries. A calm firm statement of “this is what I am willing to do, give, allow you, etc.” is unlikely to create a confrontation, and generate a degree of respect. Respecting another’s boundaries, especially ones with whom I am intimate, benefits both of us as well as the relationship.
No, I was never lost actually, although that is a legitimate concern when one’s best self is buried under the garbage and rubble of other’s expectations and the trauma and nagging voices of childhood. Beginning the process of freeing myself from the assumptions of who I am supposed to be and to begin to live my life from the inside out is still new and something I have to work on and be mindful of moment to moment, to stay connected to “being Cathrine”. The Gumby person is still in there somewhere, but I am watchful now and do not let her make choices for me.
I haven’t really lost a moment of my life, as who I am today, the woman daring to believe she has answers to questions that two years ago she despaired of ever coming close to resolving has been in there all along and often when my best self was running the show, she was very apparent to everyone else and someone about whom I gave little thought. There are certain things in the human condition that reach our awareness in the negative, gaining our attention when we have a deficit over when we have plenty. For most of us money is something we sweat when we don’t have enough and give it far less concern when we are comfortable. Missing my best self was a cause for concern, confusion, and even fear; yet when she was fully present I often did not celebrate her presence. The strategy of mindfulness allows me to notice when she is present and to search for her when she is not.
I will never answer the question “who might I have been?”, but I am answering the question “who will I become?”. The journey really began 58 years ago, but I began to turn a corner not long after I wrote the first half of this piece in 2009.