At what point in our lives do we become un-authentic? Look at your kids. Aren’t they completely authentic? They know how to love themselves, be bold, celebrate who they are, express themselves, be fearless and they know who they are. What happens between 4 and 40 to change the state in which we are naturally made?
Maybe this is a rhetorical question but I think it’s worth the debate. Here’s why.
I was reading this article in my daily Oprah newsletter about being your authentic self. You can find the link for the article under the Oprah Power Link header at the bottom of this post. The article made me think about how little of my authentic self existed in my marriage.
When my ex and I met, I thought I was living on top of my world. I was a 30 something, financially independent, successful career-woman. I was never married and didn’t have any children. I thought that I was a very attractive catch for the right guy as long as I could keep up the façade.
Here’s my secret. I’ve always suffered from low self esteem. I have never thought that I measured up and one day someone would expose me as a fraud. On the outside I looked like I was squared away but on the inside I was just a scared little girl.
I carried those insecurities into my marriage. In fact, I’ve carried them into every relationship I’ve ever had – even before He Who Cannot Be Named (HWCBN), and they all failed.
I once heard Dr. Phil say that anger is a way of expressing what we are afraid of. That really stuck with me because anger is a major issue of mine. I was afraid that everyone would know I didn’t really have it all together. Anger was always simmering underneath the surface ready to explode anytime my authenticity was challenge.
It was so easy for me to lose my authentic self in my marriage now that I think about it. I was teetering on the edge of being exposed all the time anyway, right? Was I even authentic to begin with?
If I take a good look at who I was six years ago, this is what I see:
First, I didn’t really know who I was when I met HWCBN. I thought that I was a little quirky, clumsy, cute, funny, and emotionally high strung but I don’t think I truly knew myself. I couldn’t tell you what my core values were. If I could then I would have stood my ground the first time things went sour between me and HWCBN. It would have been over and I would have moved on with no regrets.
Second, I let fear rule me. I was afraid of everything and everyone all the time. I didn’t know what to do with my fear so I hid behind it. I didn’t know how to transform it from a negative into a positive. I skirted around my fear and continued to let the anger simmer.
Thirdly, I was lousy at expressing myself. I knew how to be a chameleon and transfer myself into whoever you wanted me to be. I knew how to people please, but I didn’t know how to be honest and bold about my feelings. I was afraid that if I told HWCBN how I really felt (or anyone else for that matter) he wouldn’t love me and he would abandon me. I didn’t feel secure enough to be strong and vulnerable at the same time.
Next, the only thing I really loved about myself was that everyone else “loved” me. I was a complete narcissist – a state from which motherhood saved me, thank goodness! But I was. I lived on other people’s attention and praise. When I wasn’t constantly basking in the glow, I was seeking it out in more and more inappropriate ways. HWCBN fed my narcissism. He made me feel beautiful – even though now I know I wasn’t very beautiful at all.
Lastly, is being bold. I thought that I had stepped out on the edge with my career and lifestyle. I thought I lived outside of the box. The truth is I was looking for the nearest box I could find to crawl inside. I so desperately wanted to be inside the “Sadie, Sadie, married lady” box I couldn’t see straight. It would have been a much bolder move to just wait until I learned more about myself and my issues before I married.
Here is the portrait of the woman my husband married. She was a scared, angry, fearful, emotionally retarded, uninspiring woman who was desperate to be married. That’s not to say that HWCBN did not have the same issues – he did. But when I look at the woman I was back then through my new glasses, I can honestly say I wasn’t a very good catch.
Today I feel emotionally much healthier for these reasons:
- I have established my personal value system and I am committed to stick to it I recognize
- Each day I do at least one thing to learn more about myself and the way I interact with the world.
- I am my authentic self today and I am living a much more authentic life. (Even when it makes some people uncomfortable.)
I know it sounds corny but Cheers to our Authentic Selves! And, as Oscar Wilde put it, “Be yourself – everyone else is already taken.” Now that is well put.
My Oprah Power Link: