Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen. ~ Brené Brown I spent many years in hiding. Not physically, but mentally. As a child I would immerse myself in books and music. They offered respite from the horrors of my dysfunctional life and gave me a mental escape from reality.
Then as a teenager, alcohol became my means of blocking out the pain. Whenever I felt my emotions overwhelming me I could run to the refuge that vodka provided. Alcohol also provided me with my mask. A mask I was to wear for the next twenty years.
My need to hide stemmed from my mother’s rejection and my father’s abuse. I grew up believing that if I’d been good enough then the bad things wouldn’t have happened. I developed damaging self perceptions that I was never going to be anything less than worthless and no-one would ever love me. What was equally unhealthy however, was my desire to cover up the truth.
Then the mask of alcohol turned into something sinister. It turned into the mask of denial. As anyone who uses alcohol, drugs, food, sex, work as a form of self-medication it is denial that turns a rational, responsible individual into a guilt-filled liar. The mask of denial also kept me on the spiral of self-destruct until eventually I hit rock bottom.
It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are. ~ E.E. Cummings
I had a choice to make – ‘end it all’ or ‘stop hiding and start living’. But moving forward meant coming out of the darkness and into the light. Terrifying as that felt, I knew that I was ready. I was ready to drop the mask.
Without the drink to cushion me and without the cocoon of my depression I felt useless and hopeless as any human being could experience. Only faith could have pulled me out of that pit of despair. And initially, it wasn’t even my own belief that offered hope; it was the faith of someone else. Their conviction that I could learn to overcome my past and have the courage to heal was incredible. It was so powerful that even in my doubtful mind; there was a chance that I could turn my life around. And slowly but surely, I did.
When you’ve been hiding in the dark for a long time, you have to come into the light slowly. Otherwise the intensity is too much to cope with. And so it was with care and with gentleness that I welcomed back my heart, mind and soul to reveal my authentic self to the world.
I often get asked why I share my heart and spirit so openly. The answer is simple. Because now I can.
When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everyone will respect you. ~ Lao Tzu
I’ve realized that those who truly love me will accept me for all that I am and all that I am not. I am not ashamed to reveal my imperfections. It’s by bringing my faults to the surface that I can change and become a better person, happy and contented that I am doing my best. Today, simply being me is good enough.
So if you are hiding your real self from the world let me encourage you to make the decision take a step into the light. Be proud to be seen for who you are. It’s time for you to shine!
©Carolyn Hughes – Hurt Healer 2015 All rights reserved.
If you enjoyed this, you might like Chapter 7 – Love Yourself in How to Heal a Broken Heart – Let go of pain and learn to love again. Download it here.