Occasionally, there are crystal moments of clarity when I know who I am, when I feel the power of me churning just below the surface. I can see Who my power comes from and I feel as though I am gently clasped in God’s love. I recognize the purpose of my life is before me and that I will never be alone as I pursue it.
The walls are coming down
I’ve spent a lot of time building walls around my heart. I’ve been hurt; my heart has been trampled. I’ve been told I was worthless and that I wouldn’t succeed in anything I wanted. I was told that I didn’t have the skills I needed to accomplish my goals. I’ve been taught to fulfill other people’s needs. I was taught that my value is solely in what I can do for others.
It doesn’t help that in today’s society we are taught that women are only as good as their beauty. If they are thin, pretty and stylish, they have value. I am none of those things and so to some, I’m not of any worth.
Operating with those erroneous beliefs, I make poor decisions for myself. I’m not saying that I’m sorry that I have four children, or that I don’t want to be a stay-at-home-mom. I’m talking about things that are internal, and almost undefinable. My self-talk is extremely destructive.
And there are the things that people have told me.
“You’re ugly. You’re like a cross between…”
“You’re kind of fat…”
“No husband wants a fat wife, Lori.”
“Why don’t you be more supportive of your husband?” (While I was going to school, had a two month old baby and working from home.)
“You’re a slob.”
“You look like a man.”
“What have you done all day? The house is a mess.”
“Why would anyone want to hear you play?” (When I said I would play my flute for a function.)
“You can’t be a writer/editor you don’t have your degree. You don’t know what you’re doing.”
“You’d be a better person if you had graduated from BYU.”
And there are many, many others.
All of these things made me build up walls so that I wouldn’t get hurt. I remember when, as a child, I was told that I was not a pretty girl and that my head was too big. That person said it with such certainty that I couldn’t deny it. I felt myself lay another brick on the wall, mortar it in place, and harden myself. “Now I know,” I thought. “I won’t ever think I’m pretty again.” The bricks kept the tears from falling.
There was a time before the bricks, when things could touch me. Beauty would envelop my soul. Music was something that was potent to my senses. I loved it. I could feel it vibrating though my being. But as the wall grew, the bricks dulled the feeling. I was killing off a part of myself and I was being numbed to peace and beauty.
The pain of being constantly belittled was worse than I could bear and the wall got taller. I began to love the bricks, putting more and more in place. I believed that I could endure anything.
But there is a problem. Things still seep into my heart on occasion and because of the bricks, I can’t let them out. I have ignored it for the most part, but I am aware that the bricks are not totally effective.
There are other ways of dealing with it…
I rarely let anyone in to know the real me and I lie a lot about my life and how good it is. And when I do let someone in, I have horrible anxiety. I am certain that they’re not going to like me; I’m not worth liking. It’s safer to just move through life than to try to make and keep intimate friends. I keep real friends from loving me at the core of who I am.
I lead an empty life.
Until now…the walls are coming down.
I can’t keep going like this. This weekend, I had a day trip with the group. I had an experience in a graveyard that changed the way I view things. This weekend I also heard music that made me cry simply because of the beauty. I haven’t done that since I was in high school and it felt wonderful.
I walk through tall black gate and enter an old graveyard. Trouble haunts my mind. “What am I going to do? We’re not going to make it. My life is falling apart and I’m helpless against it.”
Sweet breezes stir the grasses growing between the headstones. Birds sing a repeating song high in the trees. An unseen gate creaks on its ancient hinges. I continue to walk up the stony path surrounded by the long since dead, secretly envying their peaceful rest.
Suddenly the breezes still. The bird’s song ends and a whisper rises from the ground.
“Part of your purpose is to enjoy these things, to listen to happiness in the song of birds, the feel of the grass swaying against your skirt, and smell the fragrant breeze. You were put here to take in these things to drink deeply of life, because those are the dreams of your final rest. Make friends, laugh, play, sing and dance. Troubles always end, but life, real life, all of the important things, love, beauty, fun and joy, all of these things will last if you pay attention and receive them.” Peace enters my soul as I realize the truthfulness in those words.
All is once again left to the birds and the swaying grasses. And I am left feeling grateful, aware of my beating heart.