One of the things I have become most aware of recently is how very willing I have been to exist in uncomfortable spaces, merely in order to maintain the status quo. To not upset the apple cart, nor to seem more erratic, or eccentric than those who know me already understand me to be.
This is I think about a denial of intuition. And more, too much pride in my ability to be resilient. Resilience you see, is a much admired quality. It says we are strong. It says we can cope with anything. It says push her and she will fall down, but give her a moment and she will rise again, stronger and more determined than before. And all of that is true, but occasionally resilience becomes a badge of honour we allow to define us, without considering what it might feel like to try vulnerability on for size.
For we are, none of us, merely one characteristic: always the sum of our parts, even when we refuse to ever let the majority of those parts see the light of day. When we start to believe that we are that which others pre-dominantly see in us, we tend to lean towards demonstrating that quality as much and as often as we can. We are the funny one, the organised one, the strong one. We are the determined, the dedicated, or the charitable and thus over the years we channel a version of that very quality even when we would like to tell the rest of the world to go boil its head, let the house go to pot or sob half way through the hilarious story we are telling at our own expense, for the umpteenth time.
This then is how we hurt ourselves. Authenticity is not you see the demonstration of the caricature of ourselves we project most on to the world, it is the ability to to do and feel what we genuinely want to do and honestly feel in any given moment. It is a constant and ongoing demonstration of our truth. Because whether we determine to hide it or otherwise deny it, our truth will always out regardless. Our authentic selves will fight to reveal themselves, whether we honour them or we don’t.
It is why things fall apart. It is why we cannot be one dimensional versions of who we wholly are, nor try to be the square peg squeezing herself into a round hole. It just won’t work. Try it for too long, and we break. Our worn out souls rupture. We behave from a place of bewildered lunacy because we have been suppressing authenticity too long, and she will always have her way regardless.
I have painted myself as the strong one. From the moment I was seven when I had to choose for my sobbing little sister a new best friend (I chose the most sensible girl in the school and Helen swiftly and fiercely rejected her!) to the day I went alone, to register my Mum’s death, I was the strong one. I allocated myself that role and everybody else believed it too, because to argue with me would have been to have force me out of the very armour I wore around my vulnerability.
But of course I am no stronger than the next woman. We all have inner reserves of deep strength, bravado, and the kind of female, fierce can do that allows us to bleed monthly, give birth and hold space for all those that want to take refuge in our hearts. Resilience is both our birthright and the burden we carry until our brittle bones start to crumble in the days after menopause, when the essence of our womanliness says no more now, it is time to live for yourself. To be gentle, true and real.
It is time to paint a portrait of yourself, not a cartoon. To understand that the art we revere most is not admired only for its beauty, but for its complexity, its story and its truth.
I have been too busy being strong. Coping and surviving. I got frightened of telling stores here. Of describing in detail the uncomfortable spaces I was existing in, because I was scared that too much truth is so terribly alienating to those who cannot acknowledge their own truth, let alone, even begin to fathom mine. I forgot that those people do not matter: that my job is to speak to those who feel like I do. Those who have been afraid, but determined. Those who have been tunnelling through, always searching for the light. Those who understand that home has never been about using the right cloth to scrub the jamb of the door, but always about creating a space safe enough to strip away our own layers.
A place to reveal ourselves. To be ourselves, and to come to know ourselves in all our ugly, beautiful glory.