I could write for a 1000 years on this topic. I’ll start with my experience as a child in school. I turned into a chameleon, and when I couldn’t hide my true colors, I retreated or I drank until my other colors shone brightly. I hold no ill will towards my upbringing, as I have learned I was a chameleon by birth and even under the most idealistic circumstances, I would not change one thing about who I am at my very core, the good, the great and the perceived flaws. It has taken me 43 years to stop berating myself for being ME.
My tendency to isolate became obvious, when I started volunteering at my kids school. There were several times in preschool, when I told the teacher I just could not make it into volunteer. One of the assistant teachers, (which I found out later) made horrendous comments about my mothering skills and myself as a human being. That is truly at the crux of the matter for me, I was terrified of what people thought of me, so I learned how to be a chameleon as a false way to connect and be accepted by people. I learned to morph into my surroundings, to avoid conflict, criticism, feedback of ANY KIND, and ultimately, never truly learned how to connect with people on a human level.
Nestled in between Isolation and my Chameleon-Connection, was my vice best friend, rage. She stealthy rose out of the prickly nest of a blinding hot purgatory of suppressed emotions faster than I could rage clean any bathroom. My ‘rage-ometer’, had no limits, no rules, no predictability, no boundaries and made absolutely no sense to me or those who loved me. If I could not be a chameleon and connect with you on false pretense and I did not know how to explain my emotions or decisions, the next best option for me was violent anger. Sometimes in my mind, a person trying to connect with me, equaled an imagined pretense of manipulation because in my insecure mind, I did not love myself so why would anyone else? I had to cut you out of my life before the angelic spirit of vulnerability of true human compassion and connection took me under its loving wings. I did not want ANY of “that” for a long, long time because in early years, it equaled abandonment.
Through years and years of group therapy, regular therapy, an amazing family, close friends ,certain groups on social media, writing, writing and more writing, I learned that it was 1000 % okay to be me. It was okay to say the following things to another human being:
I love you (but I type it out in text ‘Luv you,’ because I’m still like the Fonz… If a young person is reading this, please ask your parents or grandparents “Who is the Fonz or Fonzi?”
I need you in my life.
I do not need you in my life. (healthy boundaries)
I need to love you from a distance right now.
Wow, we really are very different people, and that is okay.
I voted for President Obama. Twice.
I do not agree with what you are saying, but I respect your decision and opinion.
Yes, I like to sleep in.
Yes I like to eat white bread and drink coffee and no I do not think it is the demise of our nation.
No, I do not like concerts and giant groups of people.
Yes I like hip hop music.
Yes I believe in God and I am spiritual, but I we as a family do not attend church regularly for our own person reasons.
No, I do not choose to participate in a negative comment thread on Facebook.
I may need to take a break from social media for a while because it’s I need to disconnect from the internet and connect with people who are sitting RIGHT NEXT TO ME.
I think you get the picture. My message is simple. Especially to the young people who may be reading this blog. I was seemingly popular in high school. I was a cheerleader, I partied, I hung out with most groups of people, and I desperately tried to fit in at the moral expense of my own moral compass or self-love. I was not myself. I pretended to be what everybody wanted to be to make a connection with other people. I was a darn good chameleon, but I was MISERABLE on the inside. I hurt so badly, contemplated suicide a lot, I hated walking into those doors of school because I knew it meant 8 hours of pure acting. I turned to the alcohol, Xanax, anorexia, shopping, and choose to associate with some people who I know would treat me horribly because I felt that is all I deserved in life. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat, because I truly believe I am on this earth, to help people in their journey of connectedness and learning how to live in today’s society without dying a little bit each day on the inside because we feel like we are not allowed to be who we truly are at our core. Most of the time I chose humor in my writing, but today is a serious blog, because #1000 speak is a critical message for our society and I want to send a pure, vulnerable, emotional message. It’s not too late to change your course. It’s not too late to rediscover who you are at your core and break free from societal shackles of who you think you NEED to be for other people. It’s not too late to LOVE YOURSELF AGAIN, so you can learn to love and trust other people. I am living proof of it not being too late.
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This blog is like the ridiculous sweater I bought at Anthropologie a few years ago. It was on sale and the sales lady told me "it looks awesome on you." It's the most bizarre sweater, and whether it looked good on me or not, is highly debatable. Like these blogs, I look at them at say "Yeesh, what was I thinking,," or laugh or bath in their cathartic qualities. The sweater stays for the same reasons.