Living a lie is exhausting.
I spent my late teens and most (OK, all) of my twenties living a lie. Or wearing a mask. Or pretending everything was OK. Or being who I thought people wanted me to be.
I think we all show people what we want to of ourselves and I think that is perfectly fine in healthy doses. I sure don't think we should go around vomiting all of our thoughts, feelings, struggles, opinions, etc. etc on others.
In my teens I felt the need to hide behaviors, choices, and feelings from friends and family because I didn't want to disappoint them. I wanted them to like me, to be proud of me, and not be defined by my failures. I know now it was my insecurities, not my choice in friends. I'm sure they would have helped me and shown me that I was worth more than the choices I was making. BUT, hind sight is 20/20.
I developed the ability to compartmentalize-everything. I was a different me at church, school, home, with my friends, boyfriend, and alone. None a lie, but not all truth either. Different sides of me but I'm not sure anyone saw all the aspects of me. Also, not just myself but others and their behaviors. The most obvious example being the horrible boyfriend I had most of high school. He said and did some pretty terrible things but he was a Christian, bought me flowers, took me out places... I started to disassociate the bad behavior from the person. Not in a healthy way. We all need a bit of grace and "forgive and forget" from the people in our lives but mine was out of control. Side note: this self realization hit me like a ton of bricks one day (when I was 30) while discussing a book I was reading. ME: did you know that Ted Bundy talked to people on a suicide crisis help line? FRIEND: He also killed people-brutally. ME:Yeah, but he helped people, he couldn't be all that bad. FRIEND: He was a serial killer. *shakes head in frustration* I wasn't getting it.
Somehow it aways felt like I was doing something wrong. Whether it was literal or figurative. I couldn't tell anyone. Oh, there were so many reasons I told myself that it wasn't possible but mostly it boiled down the the false truth I told myself: As a Christian I'm supposed to have it all together. I'm not supposed to be feeling this way. This lead to some bad choices, awful decisions. Hurts, hurts, and more hurts, to myself and others. I then vowed, OK Cat, you are going to be transparent, take off the mask, be even keel. Talk about setting myself up for failure. I hadn't corrected my shift in thinking I developed in my teens. I fell back into the same mindset again. I'll excuse that one thing because there are 10 other good things. I only showed people what I thought they wanted to see. I've already screwed up so much in my adult life I can't have them know that this house of cards could fall at any second. The mask was back on and along with it came a suite of armor. If I don't let anyone in they won't see what has happened to me, what I've become, what's been done to me, what I've allowed to be normal in my world. I projected a happy healthy life and that was incredibly contrary to what was reality. I hate myself, I'm worthless, I'm nothing, I want to die. Then.....
I started to gain some self worth. I let people in. I opened up. It was a perfect storm and my world as I knew it ended. It came crashing down on others and myself-hurts, imperfections, everything that was and wasn't...me. Everything laid bare, whether it was a truth said by me or a lie said by others. Truth became lies and lies became truth. Yet among all that life-altering-ness there was hope, a new life. I had no other choice but to pick up from there. Ask forgiveness, grow, learn, move past, move on, survive, flourish, then live. I had wonderful support after the ashes cleared from the explosion that was my life. I allowed others to show me love. Real love because they knew all. Yeah, I shut a lot of people out, I regret that but I was still in survival mode. I declined the opportunity to stand up for myself because who I was, was lost in a mess of newness. I wasn't sure yet, still afraid, and terrified of my new role in life.
Well, life is now. Happening at this very second, minute, hour. I'm happy and so very proud to say that I am in such a healthy place. Not always perfect, (I know, GASP!) but healthy. I'm respected, loved, supported, encouraged, growing, learning, living. I finally am myself. Quiet often, loud sometimes. My life isn't exactly how I pictured but it is better than I could have ever dreamed. Truthfully. Again, not perfect. I have my (many) flaws and that's OK. I'm not hiding, or wearing a mask. I'm not projecting only what I want people to see. It is reshreshing to not be weighed down by lies but to be lifted up with truth.