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Am I Authentic? Are You?

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wow, you guys. It's been pretty difficult for me to figure out how to follow that last blog I posted. Partly because it was one of the most honest blogs I've ever written and I felt a bit exposed and wasn't really sure how to recover from that. Truthfully, I expected a flood of judgment and lectures. While I did receive a little bit of that (comes with the territory in a public forum), I have been pleasantly surprised by the kindness in your hearts. I really can't begin to reply to everyone that has so deeply touched me with their loving words. Please know that I read every single comment and think deeply about them.

The impetus for this blog is the other kind of response I've been receiving. Allow me to step away from the divorce talk for a moment and use a different metaphor.

My friend, Andie Redwine, is a screenwriter and she made a film recently called "Paradise Recovered" (stream it free on Netflix!!!! It's SO good!) The film deals with religious abuse - it's the story of a girl very much entrenched in a religious cult, who through a series of events, finds herself alone with nowhere to go. Her boss (a philosophy student at the university and agnostic) takes her in and cares for her. (Like the story of the Good Samaritan) Throughout the film, we see Esther experiencing new things and embracing herself and her right to enjoy all the things that used to be "forbidden". Of course, she flounders...don't we all when we get sudden freedom? I won't ruin the end for you. Haha.

The reason I bring this up is this: after the film was released and it started making the film festival circuit rounds and began to win awards, there came so many letters and e-mails and comments from real life spiritual abuse survivors in recovery. This pleases Andie greatly, as most of the proceeds from this movie will go to Wellspring Recovery Center, a place that specializes in helping spiritually abused people become free. So, a "fictional" movie is changing REAL lives.

I feel my experience since I posted that blog has been similar. I am shocked and saddened by the sheer volume of responses I've received from so many of you that are currently at some stage of life that is similar to mine. The overwhelming idea that just keeps hitting me is: look at all of us hiding, pretending, wishing things were different. Everything looks beautiful on the outside. But inside things are so much more complex. There are so many sad people. If you guys knew how many there were...it is heartbreaking.

I don't have the answers to my own issues and I'll tell you I'm completely broken myself right now. But there is a very helpful exercise that my therapist is having me do...and I don't see how it couldn't benefit EVERYONE (whether your life is just the way you want it or you're in a more difficult place). So, thought I'd toss it out there...just in case it helps someone else.

The past couple weeks, we've been discussing the fact that it seems the reason I've been so unhappy for so long is because I've been living a life that isn't authentic to me. Other ways to say it: living a lie, pretending to be happy, propagating a facade (if you're a vocab nerd). You get it, right?

Yesterday, she pushed it further and asked me the hardest question I've had to answer in a long time...

When you imagine living a life that is wholly authentic to you and who you truly are as a person, what kinds of practical things do you see yourself doing in that life? In other words, think about what is TRUE to you.

I couldn't think of one thing. NOTHING! What the heck? How is it possible that I don't even know myself? It was really eye opening. After quite a bit of silence, I thought of one: hold each of my kids each day.

As we talked more, I began to think of more and, since yesterday afternoon, I have not stopped adding to the list.

Here's a sampling, to get your mind rolling:

If I were to live a life that is completely authentic to who I am inside, I would be doing these things:

Take care of myself in ways I haven't before: nails, waxing, haircuts, etc.

Get rid of my TV

Teach my kids the joy of reading

Read more about my business

Sit in silence and feel God's love and shut out all other voices

Spend time listening to music and connecting with it

Use my workouts as a way to build and express my inner strength, rather than as a way to run away from my problems and myself

Tell my kids each day that they are loved completely...no matter what happens

Take my kids outside and spend time exercising WITH them

Be present when I'm helping my kids with their homework - it's not just a pain in the butt task, it's valuable precious bonding time

I suppose that's enough for now. Once you get started, it gets easier. In identifying these things and actually doing them, I will apparently create a "safe place" inside myself that is my center of strength. Because it's fully ME. The idea that I can carry around a "safe place" instead of it having to be somewhere to travel to (whether physically or mentally) is kind of revolutionary for me.

I mean, when you think about it...it's everything we are being taught here on SparkPeople - find strength within yourself. Own your beauty and your strength. Dig deep and make it happen. Make your life what you want it to be with hard work and dedication. Some of that hard work has nothing to do with muscles or cardio capacity. Some of it is purely emotional. This is the side of my life that I've let go for so long...I've somehow lost myself (if I ever knew myself in the first place).

You don't have to be going through hell in your life for this to apply. All of us could use a reminder of who we are at the core...and what we need to do to remain true to that every single day.

So...when I say this...you understand that it holds so much more meaning than a trivial sign-off:

Take care of yourself today. You're worth it. And you're beautiful.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I loved this blog!!

    Although, it is extremely scary for me to even think about it. I haven't thought about anything pertaining to just "me" and what I would do or want for so long that, I know I would come up empty-handed.

    I just wanted to express my thanks for putting this blog out there for us and for giving us something to ponder on.
    1935 days ago
    "Be present" no truer words. We can lose our focus if we are not.

    1935 days ago
    Thank you.

    Wishing you joy in your discovery of yourself. You deserve to be happy.

    1935 days ago
  • THOMS1
    emoticon for this blog.
    1935 days ago
    WOW...just WOW...powerful stuff to think about and I'm starting my list NOW!!
    1935 days ago
    I love, love, love the voice of the real you.
    1935 days ago
  • MOMMY445
    another great blog! have a wonderful day!
    1935 days ago
  • NIKKIJ55
    Great blog. Thanks for sharing. It provides good therapy for all!
    1935 days ago
    If we write it down, we may just have to do something about it...scary territory right there! Thanks for the provocation :-)
    1935 days ago

    Comment edited on: 11/29/2012 9:21:06 AM
  • PJ2222
    emoticon emoticon AND more importantly Keep Praying!
    1935 days ago
  • SFREY217
    Thank you for sharing this ...... I really needed it today !
    1935 days ago
    What a wonderful thought provoking blog!!! You sound like a wonderfully amazing person and I love reading your blogs and going on this journey with you! I wish you all the best!
    1935 days ago
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. They are beautifully said, and very inspirational. You gave me a lot to think about. I think I'll try thinking about who I am too. Sounds like a good idea. Have a blessed day!
    1935 days ago
    Wonderful! Beautiful! Inspiring! Excellent blog! That is stuff we ALL need to do...every day. What do I need to do today to be authentic to who I am?! Some things we can't just go and do, but we can save and plan. Other things, we ought to be doing every day anyway---loving on those kids!! I like your counselor, Leah!! Excellent! ...And we are all so PROUD of you for doing the work to become whole!
    1935 days ago
    My journey to my "self" was quite different than I ever expected. I thought I had fiigured it all out.....................till I read your blog.

    You are, quite simply, amazing to share all this while on this journey of your own.

    Thanks is lame............but it's all I have.
    1935 days ago
  • NEWMOM20121
    ANother great blog. Made me stop and think about my life. Thank you for sharing
    1935 days ago
  • KATHIES518
    It is constantly amazing to me that no matter what we go through, good or bad, it is part of a plan that we are unaware of and don't control. Your pain is translating into a remarkable experience for so many of us - you are inspiring, thought provoking and a remarkable woman. Thank you for sharing with me!
    1935 days ago
  • DJSHIP46
    How wonderful to be able to share what you are learning as you go!!! YOU are beautiful and you are a gift... Thank YOU!!!
    1935 days ago
    Thank you for a wonderful, inspiring blog. I too need to take more time for ME and your blog has given me great ways to do this. Good luck and blessings on your journey. emoticon emoticon
    1935 days ago
    I worked for many years while raising two kids. I worked a lot of weekends and very early hours. It was always my job first and then my kids. Now that I am retired I see how hard it must of been for them with me always working. I have had much alone time now to reflect on my life (husband still works) and there is so much I want to do or could do if I was single. I can think of a lot of things I would be doing if I was true to myself. I am grateful that I can be home and devote time to nutrition and exercise. Your blog has brought up a lot of uncomfortable thoughts and emotions but it helps me move forward. Thank you. emoticon
    1935 days ago
    Thank you for sharing so much with us. You are truly brave to allow yourself to be so vulnerable! I, too, have struggled in the attempt to be true to myself while facing the wrath of a church collective, my family, and my husband.
    In my case, I've learned to live my own life while still staying married. It is the hardest thing I've ever done - and I've accomplished many difficult things.
    I learned to drive a semi truck when female drivers were so rare that we were all assumed to be prostitutes if we were in a big rig, even though I drove as half of a team with my husband. I'm the first in my family to go to college - eventually earned a Bachelor's degree, worked as a paramedic for 19 yrs. and a police officer for almost 15 yrs. until a knee injury ended that career, being female in male-dominated professions- often in a hostile work environment, without emotional or financial support from my husband or family - and kept a well-run home and raised two fine sons during the same time. I didn't get to sleep much but I was living the life I wanted.
    The thought that kept echoing in my head is that I've only been given one life to live. When I reach it's conclusion, I can blame no one but myself if I haven't lived it in the way that I wished.
    Thank you for opening the door for so many of us to share what we've faced, how we've handled it - or didn't, and giving us the courage to emulate your search for authenticity! You are loved - by God and by us. Carry on! emoticon
    1935 days ago
    You are VERY real. Keep on keeping on!
    1935 days ago
    you are truely awesome. good luck in your emotional journey and you are special.
    1935 days ago
  • HEYMOE012
    Thank you for sharing such an important reminder. We do need to envision our true selves, goals etc. to even get an idea of what path to take. Thank you so much for sharing this piece of the journey with us.
    1935 days ago
    You bless me, Leah.
    'nuf said.
    1935 days ago
    Thank you for your honesty and openness. I recently went through a similar questioning session when I contemplated a job change. My life has changed because of it and it is hard, but I needed it for me and my family. I hope your posts help others find their truths.

    1935 days ago
    1935 days ago
    Hang in there.
    1935 days ago
    1935 days ago
    Food for thought......
    1935 days ago
    Definitely a thought provoking question. I see light bulbs going off all around you. For me, the question that changed my life was, "Is it important?" I was trying to go back to work while having chemotherapy every Monday afternoon. I wasn't able to do all of the "superwoman" kinds of things I used to do. So, I streamlined my life by asking "Is it IMPORTANT?" If it wasn't, I quit doing it. If it was, I found a way to get it done, even if I wasn't the one to do it. Found myself asking for help and delegating more than I ever had before.

    I think the thoughtful questions and our answers are our true life changers.
    1935 days ago
  • KIPPER15

    take care of you. You are wonderful. emoticon
    1935 days ago
  • DNRAE1
    Great, inspiring blog! Get's me thinking. Thank you.
    1935 days ago
    Well said, thank you so much for opening your heart, your mind, and your soul!
    May your inner you come out!
    1935 days ago
  • BLACK741
    I just ran into the same idea the other day, when I received basically the same question from another source. So many of us go though life just doing what it takes to get from day to day we get lost.
    1935 days ago
    Continue on your journey and remember that happiness is not the destination, it is the journey.

    The underlying theme of you blog reminds me of a quote from the Torah, "Be yourself, no one else can do it for you"

    Make today a great day!
    1935 days ago
    Your truly an inspiration, thank you from the bottom of my heart... emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1935 days ago
    Best wishes on your journey.
    1935 days ago
  • FARIS71
    Man that is a poignant question. Thanks for the giant spark!
    1935 days ago
  • THEIS58
    What a great outline of a change plan; you will reap all of the benefits of what you are sowing in self discovery & positive impact. Thoughts become feelings and feelings become experiences.
    1935 days ago
    Nothing like finding your own unique path. You sound strong!
    1935 days ago
  • WILSON1926
    emoticon emoticon emoticon
    Thanks for sharing your heart
    1935 days ago
    thank you for sharing..
    1935 days ago
  • MARYBETH4884
    That is a question each one of us needs to ask ourselves frequently. Just to make sure we are living authentic lives. it is so easy to slip into living our lives as we think others would want to it to be, not for ourself . Thank you for the reminder! You will continue to be in my prayers!
    1935 days ago
    emoticon emoticon I understand what your saying ! I feel i have had a good life i am 61 years old and got alot of physical issues that limit my activity. My dh is 77 in January and is a workaholic and loves me to death . We been married 40 years . He has a back and i knew that before we married but i am also wife 3 and basically have been a caregiver 24/7 and i can't say i mind that but he had 2 bad marriages that were unfaithful to him and basically he wants me at home with HIM ! Treats me like a queen i don't want for nothing . But sometimes i feel like a prisoner in my own house. He spends alot of time outside like at least 6 hours aday when the weather permits and that leaves me alone so i have to fill those hours doing something. If i mention going to town or anything else he drops what he's doing and goes with me . Thru the years i have tried to make him understand i like to just go to town by myself or met a friend and have coffee . He has never said no to me but i can tell it really hurts his feelings he wants to go to. I don't feel he is jealous because he has never said anything about me talking to friends husbands ect. About 4 oclock every evening i get the blues and don't want to cook ect . He would take me out to eat every night if thats what makes me happy we have done it many of times but i need to overcome this habit and we both live with the fear of one dying . Thanks for the blog it's got me thinking about what i can do to make me happier after 4 so i feel good about cooking ect . emoticon
    1935 days ago
    I completely agree with the homework thing...An important time!
    1935 days ago
    Thank you for sharing! You are very insightful and what you say is true. Being authentic to my true self was one of the wake up calls that pushed me to accept my marriage was over and do something about it. When I started being "Me" my ex could only ridicule and sabotage...which isn't what someone who loves you is supposed to do. I always knew deep inside this was the case but when I stopped submerging and forgetting about Me it really brought it home. I wish you luck, strength and peace as you go through this process.
    1935 days ago
    Interesting that you mention personal grooming and keeping up your hair and nails as being authentic to yourself. I let those things go after losing my job a few years ago because I wanted to save the expense. The first thing I did when I started a new job was get my nails done and that is when I realized the importance it had to my personal happiness. Never again will I let that priority slide!
    1935 days ago
    Great blog. I feel and know a part of my true self is out there for all to see. But I also know that there is a big part of me that stays hidden mostly cause of situations in life that prevent me from letting those parts of myself out.
    1935 days ago
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    YES !
    I have always loved the song
    I GOTTA BE ME by Sammy Davis Jr
    emoticon emoticon

    Today I got an email on this very subject
    recommending the following book

    You and your family are still
    in my/our thoughts and prayers !

    emoticon emoticon emoticon
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    Have a Thrilling Thursday

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    1935 days ago

    Comment edited on: 11/28/2012 10:14:40 PM
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