I wrote and posted the following in a watered down version a couple of months back. Shortly after posting it though, I felt the need to remove it.
Oh, the irony! … You’ll understand as you read on. (Should you choose to read on!)
It was a removal of a post that pretty much came about through a lack of confidence.
On the other hand I had talked myself into believing that maybe the candour, cynicism, jest and at times slightly dark humour with which it was written may have been misinterpreted, or simply not appreciated. I actually had no reason for thinking that way, other than my own self-doubt.
So before I post any new writing I am re-posting this one, far more in its original form, the form it took before watering it down the first time I posted it.
Here goes with authenticity!
Friday May 20, 2018
This past week has been a week of pure frustration for me, between an upcoming specialist appointment I was really stressing over and trying to find a new house to rent, along with a multitude of other things in the mix taking their toll from way too many perspectives.
I seethed in silence, I ranted and swore. I listened to Guns n Roses songs like Out Ta Get Me and You’re Crazy with an attitude of raising my middle finger to everything that has gone wrong for far too long, while also identifying with Eric Church’s desire for escapism in Smoke a Little Smoke.
I was sleep deprived, I was restless, my body was torturing me and I was screaming with rage filled bewilderment on the inside over what my life had become!
Analysing! … Desperately trying to understand, how literally everything I had ever hoped for and dreamt of my life becoming had been shattered along the way throughout an endless nightmare since I had left home at the age of 18!
But…. You know what I didn’t do during that time as I seethed and grappled to hold onto any smidge of will power to pull myself together and continue this existence I am supposed to call life?
I didn’t write, I didn’t post anything on the blog and I couldn’t even post a Facebook status!
Why? … Simply because the things I wanted to say, the statements I wanted to make, are not the things supposedly “nice”, well raised people with a solid Christian background allow themselves to say for anyone else to hear, much less so openly as on Facebook for family, friends and acquaintances to read, never mind a public blog.
Besides the fact that everyone I know already has enough dramas of their own to contend with, spare them the insanity of mine.
Of course there is also the “Melodramatic Attention Seeker” title! …
Undoubtedly to be thrown around … Which I am more than well aware would have already been thrown around a number of times in the past.
(Yeah, walk a day in my shoes and then we’ll see who’s being melodramatic!)
Finally I came to the conclusion that my thoughts were better left unsaid.
And I suddenly thought in relation to this blog.
Authenticity? Uncensored? … Really? … Just Who Did I Think I Was Kidding!
Through the course of my musings another question came…. Can anyone ever truly be free enough to be 100% authentically themselves without taking into account any other person’s beliefs or expectations?
Leading me to one single conclusion.
A conclusion that was a thought not only for myself but so many other people I know who hide themselves away depending upon the company they keep or the audience to their thoughts at any given time.
That conclusion…. I was not created to be an extension of anyone else’s beliefs or expectations, I was created with my own unique purpose!
A purpose and unique personality traits, that in my case, had been invalidated, derailed, reduced to complete invisibility and ultimately silenced by the expectations and beliefs of other people right throughout my life, from many sources and perspectives.
And what it all came down to in my mind was one simple thought that played over, time and again … Be “you” for all your infinite worth, because you were not created to be an extension of anyone else’s beliefs or expectations!
Be “you” for all your infinite worth, because you were not created to be an extension of anyone else’s beliefs or expectations!
Look… I know without a doubt I am not the only person in this world who feels they cannot be 100% lock, stock and barrel their real self to the outside world, despite all desire and attempts to do and be just that.
Truth be told, ALL of us have parts of ourselves hidden away that no one else is ever privy too. I believe we all have a kind of tiered authenticity with the people in our lives.
From the inner circle we trust the most, through various levels of trust for family, friends and acquaintances. It goes right on down through the outer circle of strangers we haven’t learnt we can trust to be ourselves with, finally ending with those we’ve well and truly learnt we cannot trust in the slightest to even be a part of our lives.
Then there are the reasons we feel we cannot be ourselves to the outside world.
Personally, my inability to be authentically me can be perfectly illustrated by a statement my first husband made about me in relation to when he first noticed me at the TAFE Campus where we met, prior to my 17th birthday, mid to late 1989.
He said this to me, “You were the good Christian girl trying to be the bad girl!”
That statement was never meant with malice of any kind, in fact I believe it was actually meant as a compliment, albeit a rather clumsy one, but a compliment nonetheless.
Setting the scene of that time in my life, I often wore a denim jacket with a Guns n Roses back patch, heavy metal band t-shirts and tight black leggings or cut off fraying denim jeans with bunched up black socks and sneakers.
I had a dagger charm hanging from the top of my left ear, whatever other earrings I chose in both ears that fitted with my clothing choice for the day, harsh black as black eyeliner and at the TAFE Campus where I met my first husband I had a cigarette in my hand at every opportunity.
Yeah, maybe it wasn’t such a good look, but it was me at 16…. And I loved it!
However, the thing about that statement, “You were the good Christian girl trying to be the bad girl!”, is that is how I have been perceived every moment of my life that I have ever even begun to be the real authentic ME in the slightest.
Seen as someone who is trying to be someone I am not!
When in reality, the ONLY thing I have ever had to TRY to be…. Is ME!
Purely because the ME I am on the inside, the me who is not allowed to show herself in the most authentic way, is not what other people want or expect me to be…. All based upon their own beliefs and personal expectations.
At 16 I was never anything trying to be something I was not, I was just … Being Me!
Expressing the music I enjoyed, wearing clothes the way I wanted to wear them, styling my hair and make-up in a way that made me feel good and even smoking cigarettes simply for the pleasure I took in having a smoke here and there, for myself and for no other purpose.
Did cultural peer influence play a part at all?
Sure it did to a degree, doesn’t it with everyone throughout all of our lives, no matter how old we are, if we are really honest with ourselves?
The older I get the more I see that the “Peer Pressure” phenomenon we ascribe to youthful rebellion has nothing to do with the young and everything to do with simply being social creatures with a desire to fit with “The Pack” that most resonates with our own individual style and beliefs…. No matter how old we are!
My point is, it was my choice to express myself as I did, to be who I was, there was never any pressure involved for me to be someone I never was within myself, let alone do anything at that point in my life I had no desire to do in the first place.
And so when I met my first husband he apparently became the man who saved me from my perceived rebellion, in the eyes of many who did and do love me.
Let’s be honest here though, 18 year old guy taking notice of almost 17 year old girl?
It was never the Good Christian Girl that my first husband was interested in getting to know when he spotted me at that TAFE Campus the first time, more fool anyone who chose to think otherwise!
However, turn me from my wayward path of the heavy metal rock chick…. He did!
In all actuality though, the heavy metal rock chick individual I embraced as ME at 16, who has always resided within me, was the authentic me!
Which ultimately, just became another part of myself I had to bury away well before I was ready for that part of myself to be buried away, just like all the other parts of myself I was expected to bury away, both prior and subsequent to that period of my life.
The thing about being perceived as the nice and / or good Christian girl or woman is that you have high expectations placed upon your code of conduct. Irrespective of who you feel you are on the inside, irrespective of your belief system changing over time so drastically that you even question the validity of identifying as Christian.
(That, by the way, doesn’t mean I don’t have spiritual beliefs or a belief in God. It means my experiential beliefs don’t match up with what I have been taught Christianity is and I now grapple with identifying as such…. Existential Crisis and Faith, topics for another day.)
I may be a kind hearted, deeply empathetic person who perceives and feels other people’s emotions a tad too strongly for my own comfort at times.
And, I may have an ingrained moral compass that holds me to a certain standard of ethical behaviour, including loyalty and commitment…. All of which have and do guide me in my decisions throughout life, as well as my behaviour and my care toward other people.
However, beyond those traits I am also a person who has found a need to hide much of myself away due to other people’s expectations and beliefs.
Hiding away not only personal desires and traits, but even my own spiritual beliefs and convictions, all to display what is expected of me, rather than withstand the disapproval, disappointment, ridicule and rejection of who I really am.
At times out of respect for another person’s beliefs or my relationship with that person or group of people. But more often than not I hide myself away because to be authentically me is actually viewed as me being anything but authentic, which is the irony of it all.
Even more laughable as I contemplate this thought is the fact that more often than not throughout many phases of my life, it has actually been the forced nature of a Christian persona that really was the inauthentic me. The forcing of attitudes and beliefs to avoid confrontation and correction, especially during a period of my life that was dominated by profoundly damaging religious control.
Inevitably, I became the ultimate people pleaser, until the authentic me was no more.
Before I knew it I was hitting middle age and my life had completely passed me by. Nobody knowing the authentic me, much less had I lived a life where I had done anything for myself the way I wanted to live my life, nor had I expressed myself as the person I was and am.
The thing I have come to realise is that we are all placed in boxes that other people create for us based upon their own beliefs and expectations.
And, when a person falls short of those expectations or chooses to exit one of those boxes, as I have fallen short of and tried to exit many times throughout my life, that person begins to either be broken to fit into those boxes or forced to suffocate the authentic self into complete silence.
The unique mix of qualities that only that one person has been created to possess, it all begins to be hidden away.
Let’s not fool ourselves either, we have all had it done to us and by us. As parents we do it to our children, family members and friends to one another, teachers do it to their students and even spouses do it to one another too, some in a more repugnant manner than others.
And I have to ask…..
At what point in a person’s life, if ever, do they have the right to be 100% lock, stock and barrel their truly authentic self?
Some people don’t give a damn what anyone else has to say and everyone accepts those people for who they are in that. Quite honestly I admire and am quite envious of their ability to be themselves.
Meanwhile people like me who are held to standards such as the perceived “Good Christian Woman”and told since childhood that more was expected of them from various sources…. There is no way to be truly absolutely authentic to ourselves!
If I rant and swear in posts online I’m not trusting God enough and slipping in my faith causing offence to much loved family and friends. All the while possibly being judged as apostate, too sensitive and overly-dramatic by people who could not walk a day in the shoes I have had no option but to walk in.
God only knows…. No, really, God does know! … I have no faith left in me for anything, not from a Christian understanding of faith and belief anyway.
He has more than adequately confirmed His unwillingness to be a participant in my life despite all my years of belief in the relationship I had with Him, the callouses on my knees from unending prayer, my service in churches, giving to others, financial outlay and good clean living ways.
Never mind all the wasted years of turning up to a building to be judged, gossiped about and punished or corrected by family members, pastors and church leaders based upon unrealistic expectations that none of them even hold themselves accountable to…. (Note to self, BREATHE!)
Or to those who don’t judge me for ranting based on religion, I’d just be viewed as negative, or an attention seeker, or maybe even both.
Which, to be honest, I don’t think I am alone in anticipating because I have noticed, when people who are highly active on social media go quiet it is usually because they are going through rough times or ill health. They either don’t want to be seen as negative attention seekers, or the situation is so bad they don’t know how to or don’t want to reach out.
YAY! … For the meaningless superficiality of social media driven awareness campaigns asking, “Are You Okay?”
So this is me just sharing this thought, and having an honest rant along the way!
Be YOU, because there is no one else in this world who was created with the unique combination of traits and gifts that you possess … And that rare treasure, is far too valuable to lose!
Meanwhile, I’ll work on my authenticity purely for me, simply because the real me living openly in this world is decades overdue, with far too much having been missed out on.
The woman this life has forged me into has certainly begun to bleed through the cracks of other people’s beliefs and expectations, finally allowing me to begin living for no one else’s expectations other than my own.
So for now, I’ll admit to my censorship, yet allow my inner 16 year old rock chick to headbang on the inside (if only the body was willing), as my seriously at wits end 45 year old self continues to long for escapism.
And without a doubt I’ll keep my F-Bomb punch lines well hidden behind closed doors for Daniel’s immense amusement alone…. Lest I hear once more from anyone in my life, “Rebecca! I expected far better from YOU!”
Throughout it all though I’ll be giving right of way for the “nice” me to take the lead where ever possible, its a big part of who I am, that part always was authentically me too.
Oh how I enjoyed reading your blog. I wish there was an applause emoji that I can use but I’m gonna have to fall back on words and do my best to extend my gratitude and praise for your honesty, integrity and courage. To say ‘Thank You’ is an understatement but I’ll say it anyway. THANK YOU!
When other women find their voices it’s like another song added to the chorus.
I had to learn, years ago, that other people’s expectations were just that, ‘their expectations’ and had little or nothing to do with me unless I chose to adopt them. So you ‘rock on girl’ and continue to explore and inspire!
I’m so sorry I did not approve this sooner Fiona, you posted the first comment on the blog (Congratulations) and I’m still learning the ropes to know to go looking for comments needing approval.
I really appreciate the feedback and knowing you did take something from it. In all honesty this was the hardest post to publish at the time due to its forthright, if not slightly unhinged nature. As hard as it was to publish it is also the one that I have had the most amount of feedback from a positive perspective.
Thank You, Fiona.