For a lot of my life I just didn’t want to stand out. I wanted to blend in with the scenery. I thought that if I stood out, you were going to notice what a piece of crap I really was, that you would know I wasn’t worthy, wasn’t good enough, didn’t belong. I went through most of my life hiding in plain sight. Now that might seem strange based on the profession I chose. But I used that to hide. It was a place where I could hide behind the characters I played, something I think many of us do, even if we are not actors by trade. We learn to play a role, or adapt to what we think you want to see, so that questions won’t be asked and we can slide through life, never making enough waves to stand out from the crowd. When people are looking for someone to single out, we are trying to camouflage ourselves into the crowd so that we’re forgotten. There are those of us also who put so much time crafting a persona that is more acceptable in our eyes that we hope that the real us is forgotten and we can continue operating under the alias we created.
For me it was two-fold, and in-part what fueled my inner-struggle and torture. I didn’t want to stand out, I wanted to be forgotten, but I also wanted to be liked and wanted the person I had created to stand out and be acknowledged. Therein lies the insanity. An insanity there was just no winning from, regardless of the outcome. It wasn’t until I put a stop to the lies, the characters I would play, and the behavior I had been participating in that I was able to finally investigate who I really was. I had been playing so many different people, for so long, I didn’t actually know anymore.
When my mental illness had taken over, and my disease was the only voice I heard, I felt like I was fading away in the background. I felt like life was going on around me, but was leaving me behind. I never felt like I was moving forward, I always felt like I was running away from the darkness that was chasing me. And when it caught up to me, it would pull me back. I certainly didn’t want anyone to see that, so hiding became my way to conceal that part of myself from you, from anyone who might judge it, might not understand it, or might hurt me because of it. My disease told me I should be forgotten, that I wasn’t worth remembering, and that if I was gone, no one would even notice.
When I finally found the courage to tell a trusted friend what I was doing, I changed that course. I let some light in, and I let the masks fall away, for the first time, ever in my life, to reveal who was really there. And who I was was broken, lost, empty, and afraid. I let her out. I shared her with the people in my life and I sought help to put the pieces together again. No one judged me, no one hurt me, no one said anything but words of encouragement, of hope, of love. And as scary as it was to stand there, vulnerable, in that moment, for probably the first time, I was me. No games. No pretending. Nothing but me in that moment. And it felt good. Pretending was a lot of work. Pretending meant I was constantly in fear of being found out as a fraud because I wasn’t being true to myself. Pretending kept me sick. And I was getting sicker.
It took a lot of work to get to a place of self-love, to a place where I no longer feel the need to wear a mask and hide, where I no longer want to be forgotten, but I made it there. Today I know that whatever my best self is in each moment is enough. If I fall, make a mistake, I can repair it, get up, try again, as long as I am being true to myself. Instead of wanting to be forgotten, I want to be of service. I want to help. Share who I am. My story. And I never worry what the reaction will be, because it’s my truth, and there is nothing to be ashamed of. I own my story, I own my truth, and I know that when I walk in that place I am exactly where I am supposed to be. That’s what I now want to be remembered for. SLAY on!
SLAY OF THE DAY: In your day-to-day life, do you try to stay hidden, or hide behind a persona you’ve created? Why do you do this? What is it about yourself that you don’t think is acceptable? Why do you think this? Is this something you feel to be true, or is this something you have been told? Is this something that is in your current life, or something from your past? Why do you believe this? What do you know to be true about yourself? Write out the good. Write out the good. Look at both. In the bad list, write out how this is true in your life today. Write out if it is a story from your past, that either you told yourself or someone else. Look at the good list. What else can you add? That is who you are. We all have things we struggle with, or may not be proud of, but today we can choose to be our best selves and leave those things behind as part of our past. We can learn from them, use them as reminders of where we don’t want to be. Focus on the good and more good will come. You don’t deserve to be forgotten, be you, your true you, that is who we’ll remember.
S – self L – love A – appreciate Y – you