Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Becoming Authentically Me

It's funny to think about putting effort into becoming myself, but that's sort of where I've been heading for a while now.  I think as we grow up, enter adulthood, we sort of wait around, flailing in my case, trying to figure out how to reconcile what we've learned about life and the world and how we should act, even who we should be, with the person we feel ourselves growing into.

It's not always an easy path.  For some it may be, for me it was a road made more of potholes than pavement.  Finding myself wasn't easy.  The real me was buried deep beneath who I wished I was, what I wished I loved, what I wanted because others wanted it for me.  I'm thirty years old and I still don't have all the answers.  Some days I feel like I know myself, and I certainly know myself better than I did at twenty.  I look back on those years, the years I hurt others because I was just a baby myself, I didn't know how to deal with what I was going through emotionally.  I felt betrayed, misunderstood, alone.  And I often took the coward's way out.  Leaving.  Detaching.  Gathering myself as tightly as I could, holding in all the pieces of my soul that were tearing apart.  I was lost, trying to find myself, and in the process, I broke hearts.  To this day, I wish I could go back and make those things right.  

But I can't.  

I caused so much pain to others and most of all to myself. But I can't wish away the things I've been through, because those are the very experiences which brought me to where I am.  To the woman I am.  A woman who understands that growth never ends.  That each day we find ourselves a bit more, uncover the fossils buried deep within.  Each day we are given a new chance to make better choices, hurt others less, be true to ourselves, leave the expectations of everyone else and embrace the deepest needs of our own spirit.

I know I'm not the only person to look back on their lives and know that if they relived the same experiences later on, they would do things differently.  That's the thing about life - each experience leads us a little deeper down the path of self-discovery.  Each fall affords us the vast opportunity to recognize unstable ground, thus knowing where not to place our feet next time around.  Without those lessons, life would be stagnant. 

Perfection is unattainable.  It's only purpose is to torment the souls of those who look back on the mistakes of their lives as failures, instead of seeing them for what they are - stepping stones.  I've given up on perfection.  I don't have it in me to constantly remind myself of my faults.  Most days my faults stare back at me through the eyes of my children.  Or on days when I parent successfully, I can be sure I'll be visited by the ghosts of past mistakes in my dreams.  I am never free of them.  The let downs.  The regrets.  The broken hearts.  The fact that I will never, ever measure up to enough in the eyes of so many who once held me so dear.

But I have nothing to do but move forward, carrying on the momentum of my life, reflecting on lessons I learned then and those I'm still being taught every day.  I will never be a perfect wife, a perfect mother, a perfect daughter.  I will always fall short of what is expected, from myself and what others expect.  I spend my days working toward better.  As Lisa Grunwald said, "Best is good, but better is best."  Better is, in reality, the only thing any of us can ever hope to be.

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