I’m OK. 🙂
In fact, I’m more than OK.
I sit here beside a tree on a chilly morning. The ground is uneven, but I feel very…even.
The earth completes its rotations around the sun, and each year we come back again to the same place, except that it’s different. Another year, another batch of wisdom and memories, gained from another batch of experiences.
Last year around this time, I would sit here, staring through blurry eyes, alone and content with the latest tidbit that a then-stranger (now-friend) helped me uncover and discover about myself. I bookmarked blogs frantically, one after another. I marveled at the insight they unknowingly had into my own life. I would nod silently in response to every sentence, my life nailed into place, healing strike by healing strike of a therapeutic hammer.
Sometimes it hurt, as memories I had long carefully and completely put away, stashed and hidden, collecting psychic cobwebs, came bubbling to the surface like pent up magma deep from the bowels of the earth. Like magma, the feelings had been banished into the deep recesses, smoldering and churning, unseen and largely unknown, but always active.
Like the earth, the subconscious is its own living, breathing entity. And when the forces become to great, it rises up in waves and sometimes spurts of dramatic sprays and spectacles, and it leaves no choice but to be dealt with.
And when it does, it washes over everything, and the best course of action is to go off and be alone, with only myself.
My face was cold, chilled by the gusts of northern wind, but the tears were hot.
They stung. They hurt.
They also healed.
Once I knew the truth, life would never be the same again.
And that’s OK; I didn’t want it to be. My pre-discovery life was chock full of land mines and rivets, into which to take wrong steps. My previous life was a relentless and unforgiving string of misunderstandings and faux pas and egregious violations of confusing, arbitrary, unwritten social rules that I was unfairly responsible for despite being completely unaware.
And how on earth did I make it this far in life being so unaware? Unaware of those social rules, knowing they existed, but never quite seeming to be able to master them. Unaware of how much energy I had to invest in every encounter. Unaware of exactly why I had felt that potent disconnect from the rest of the world. Unaware of what I was actually feeling, the true emotions underneath my surface feelings and behaviors. Unaware of my own strength, and unaware of my own weakness. Only vaguely aware of my sensitivities. Unaware of my own neurotype. Unaware of my truth.
The camouflaging cloak I used to get by in the world was the same cloak that hid me from myself. I guess I hid too well; I couldn’t even find myself.
I was vaguely aware that I switched into a different “mode” when socializing. I knew that it felt unnatural. I knew that, left to be by myself, I was a different person than I was around people. I knew that the natural, unadulterated me would not be well received by other people, so I turned it off, unaware of the energy it took to do so, only dimly aware of how tired I grew and how quickly that happened.
Alone with my rapidly growing base of knowledge and insight, I unleashed everything. I let go of the reigns and let the horses run wild. It all came out, uncontrollably. It wanted out, and Better Out Than In.
No matter how much those tears stung, I knew it had to happen.
I realized just how much I had been holding in, holding back, holding together, and the sheer will it took to shoulder it all. For the first time, I realized the full brunt and the full cost of the weight that I was carrying. Up until that point, I had shouldered that weight as a cost of doing business with the world.
I made diplomatic-but-adamant statements to my partner about being Different Not Less, and what I realized I needed, and what I was no longer going to do or tolerate from anyone.
I left no question, no doubt, no room for dissent. I left room for discussion, so long as the discussion echoed agreement and compliance.
This seems hard-nosed, but the key lies in the delivery, and luckily, I’ve usually been relatively good at the delivery (although there are times when I don’t have the energy to put into making sure my message is well-received).
Most people interpret tears as a sign that something is wrong. For me, it was the opposite. I felt comfortable in my own being, solid on my own ground, for the first time. I finally felt OK with who I was.
Before, I had always disliked the phrase “I’m OK, you’re OK”, because I felt like a fraud saying the first part. It seemed like bullshit. I was not OK; if I was so “OK”, why was I constantly being sent the message that I needed to alter myself and my behavior? Why couldn’t people just let me be?
The phrase “Just Be Yourself” had a similar effect; “being myself” always led to my emotional demise, from which it took forever to recover. “Be myself”? Ha! That’s like saying “go ahead – poke your eye out. It’s OK”. I wanted to slap those who parroted such horrible advice. Because in my life, It Doesn’t Work That Way.
Except that now, it does. Maybe not 100% of the time, but a good percentage.
The tears were merely symbolic of a transformation occurring from within. For the first time, I realized that I was OK, just as I am. And I realized that I was allowed to be myself after all.
Society may not like it, for society hasn’t changed, after all. It remains its usual judgmental self.
The difference occurred within me. I realize now that society doesn’t make all the rules, as much as it may think it does. Some of us, one at a time, are getting off the Masking Merry-Go-Round and Just Saying No. The difference now is that I don’t care nearly as much. I belong here, too, dammit. There’s room for me. I don’t have to constantly shoehorn myself into someone else’s confines. I can take their yardstick and beat them with it.
Tears are good sometimes. Tears heal. Tears set free. Tears strengthen.
This year, I sit in the same places among the trees. I listen to that same wind blow, feeling the same chill on my face.
But this time, there are no tears. They’ve done their job and served their purpose. They’re welcome anytime, but they’re not usually needed.
I’ve been vindicated, released, and set free. 🙂