In the post just before this one, the comments section generated several very helpful conversations. I discovered almost immediately that in trying to establish something I could call my own personal ethic, that the emotional backlash began. The intensity of painful feelings was actually physical. Instead of feeling happy that I was beginning to discover what I truly believe and what I will live by, I felt waves of shame washing over me. It was as if every single thing I had ever done that could be criticized came out for inspection.
I did some reading online about shame. Every description of shame included an aspect of it that characterized shame as a profound sense of complete unworthiness and innate wrong. And this shocked me because the foundation upon which I was raised as a child was that calling oneself unworthy and innately wrong was the first step toward virtue, toward salvation. It wasn’t called shame, it was called truth.
This didn’t help my feelings much at all, instead I felt worse and worse. How could I get out of such a trap, laid for me at such an early age? How could I escape when it seemed to have followed me here, to my mid-forties?
Then a comment from Lexie reminded me of something I used to live by when I was first coming out. There’s no rush. There’s no one path. There’s no one who can say how or when or where or why. There is love and support available. And I don’t have to hurry.
As soon as I read this the knot in my stomach came undone, it was that significant. Other commenters chimed in with encouragement and even reminded me that I tend to be pretty hard on myself. I really appreciated all of the encouragement.
But what if I don’t have to rush? I know that I spent the last couple of years bringing to life the dreams of the years previous. But I’ve paid a price. I’ve fought battles that probably weren’t mine to fight. I’ve faced down a challenge with my mother that nearly unseated my reason. I’ve looked outward, instead of inward, for my next steps.
OK – so be it. So be it. But I remember those days when everything was private, everything was just me and a very few people who knew. I don’t want to go back there. But I learned something really profound about myself then. I learned that I do best with a lot of private introspection. I may be an introvert in Diva Disguise, as a matter of fact. I’ve learned that my life really only works when I allow dreams to take hold of me so powerfully that they supercede everything, even daily plans.
I know that sounds strange, and it sounds as if it would lead to irresponsibility. Not so. I tend toward irresponsibility most when I try not to dream so hard.
So I’m going to change my word for the year. It was going to be love. A great word, and perhaps one for a lifetime (my name, Amy, means beloved). It’s going to be slow. Slow is the word. I am going to look as if I’m not moving, so that inwardly I can find myself again. It’s not about going back in the closet. It’s not about not going to work, or not taking care of the children and animals. It’s not about not singing. It’s just about finding my way inward again. I won’t be pressing on anything or anyone to make things happen, when I’m following my word of the year. I’ll just be living inside my inward-looking life.
This feels like a trial experience that might well lead to a lifetime practice. Perhaps this, at the end of it all, is my core ethic. Slow. Because for me, the word signifies the importance of dreams, and the parallel reality they create that ends up shaping outward life. And, for me, the word reflects my sense that the practical daily-ness of living is only a small fraction of my true life, my true self.