As I sat down to the computer just a few moments ago, it was to check messages and then to lay down. I’m still in the throes of some weird virus that has me headachy and exhausted. “Just this one thing and then off to bed to try and sleep it off,” I told myself.
But one thing inevitably leads to another and I found myself calculating and transferring the first (of what I hope is many) deposits from our Airbnb earnings into our checking and savings accounts. After I did it, I checked my balance in our main checking for one month from today’s date (I try to make sure we are always at least one month in the black) and smiled at the number.
Not because it was large, but because I suddenly felt like I was resting a reassuring hand on my own shoulder, one that patted me and said, “You’re doing great, you know, this is all going to work out.”
And it was such a relief to hear that voice instead of the one that Marsha Shandur (from Yes Yes Marsha!) calls the Beast, one that is always trying to stop you from doing your best. It’s the one that tears you down, that tells you that you are less, that you are lacking, that you are NOT ENOUGH and never have been and never will be.
Have you ever heard that voice?
Of course you have.
Sometimes I have wondered if it is simply part of the human condition, a mountain we are all faced with, a vestige of our earliest, most primeval days that beats at us, whispers poison in our ears, and stops us from being the people we can’t even dream of being because our heads, hearts and ears are filled with its hateful whispers.
You heard it first when you were young and you did something wrong and got in trouble with your parents, or at school when you were daydreaming instead of listening to the teacher. Every sharp tongue, every correction by another and that nasty little beast would start up telling you that you were worthless, stupid, too this or too that, and you didn’t belong, weren’t welcome, and certainly weren’t worthy.
And maybe, when you grew up, you married someone who knew how to make that Beast talk even louder with their own twists and perversions of reality. After all, humans are also wired to re-create what we learned early on, right? So you marry someone who wants you uncertain, on edge, and questioning yourself. If you are busy questioning reality, or whether or not you are a worthwhile human being that deserves love and respect then maybe, just maybe, you’ll be a little easier to control.
The Beast likes to control you. And so do plenty of humans in this world.
I spent a lot of years listening to the Beast in my head. And a lot of years were wasted thinking that I wasn’t good enough, that I wasn’t okay, and that I wasn’t a good human being, daughter, wife, or mother.
And life happens, and things change, and, if you are lucky (and honestly, that’s what it’s been, DUMB LUCK), you occasionally are blessed with these epiphanies that come along while you are trudging down the road, eyes to the ground, just hanging in there, and they blindside you.
Suddenly, quiet and loud, all at the same time, you realize, “I AM a good person.” Or, “I AM a writer!” or a cascade of realizations…
- I can be imperfect and still be deeply loved
- I can have bad and good days as a parent and still be a GREAT mother
- I am worthy of love and I deserve to have it in my life
Epiphanies are magical, life-changing events. Really, you should try them on for size. I have no idea how they happen, it isn’t like I’ve ever been in charge of sending one in my own direction (because damn, I would have done it a lot sooner if I had known how), but they are fucking fabulous. They take a CERTAINTY, something you have known to be TRUTH and turned it on its ear. I imagine that if I believed in God, it would similar to a light shining down from heaven. If you aren’t gob-smacked by the end of an epiphany then check your pulse, because you might have bigger problems to worry about.
I think it is a shame that epiphanies can’t be ordered in advance. Set up early and often, so that the bulk of our lives are spent in true joy and peace, accepting and loving ourselves and being the best we can be along the way.
Instead, some of our darkest moments can precede epiphanies. And not just moments, but months, even years, and at worst, decades. How much energy do we waste in support of inaccurate beliefs of ourselves? How much does it take from the here and the now?
Today, as I realized with no small amount of appreciation that I did have it together, that I was on the right track, that I was doing well, my thoughts strayed to those in my life who had melded so well with the Beast, the ones who had stood shoulder to shoulder with it and tried to tell me WHO I WAS. Standing on the outside, peering in, judging, hoping to mold or control, so sure they knew me – my motives, my reality, better than I did.
And for the first time, I felt grateful. Not in some snarky, facetious way. Honestly grateful.
Despite being wrong…
Despite trying to push their hurts, fears, inadequacies from their own Beasts onto me…
Despite the hurt they inflicted at the moment…
I choose to see the end result. That the combination of their words, deeds, decisions, actions at some point in my life shook loose a magical WHOMP of epiphany that hit me, changed my course in life, and brought me to a new space in my life.
Some intended good, others certainly intended the hurt they inflicted, but all of them helped release an epiphany, sometimes decades later, that has done nothing but improve my life, my belief in myself, and my value – in my own life, and in those who exist in my little biosphere.
I don’t remember all of their names, some literally are nameless because they were strangers, but that’s okay, they helped all the same. The words they spoke, the actions they took, both are irrelevant. There have been plenty of folks I have had change my life in nothing but good ways, but these people changed my life too. It might not have felt good at the time, but in the end, their actions and words have brought me to this place, a good space where I know my worth, and so, I see the value in having known/met them.
- English teacher/librarian in 8th grade
- Walter B.
- Former landlord
- James S.
- Random book reviewers (2 of them)
- Danielle B.
I’m sure there’s more. But each of these folks brought on serious hard-core, life-changing epiphanies. Ones that both rocked my understanding of myself and changed how I looked at myself – all in a good way. In most cases, it took a while for the realization to hit. That I wasn’t. Wasn’t what?
That I was not the labels applied to me. That I was so much more.
And so are you.
I’m in a good space. Despite being ill and feeling yucky at the moment. I have plenty of people I love, and those who love me in return. And even if could only count on one finger the ones I love as the song goes, I still would have enough.
When all there is left to say is “thank you,” whether these folks are gone from your life, deaf to your words, or blind to the person you truly are, then set it there on the table, bow, and walk away.
Sincerely, with all of my heart, thank you for being the catalyst for who I am today.
Happy and whole, no longer racked with guilt or insecurity, and the best human being I know how to be.