Everything I do – my entire purpose in this life - is about being seen … andbeing heard for who I really am.
As a little girl, it was best that I was seen and not heard. No, wait. It was best that I wasn’t seen AND wasn’t heard. If you grew up when I did in the early 50’s, parental punishment was still pretty much left up to the imagination of the parent, and not a contrived taking away of an electronic communication device, like a cell phone, or a gaming device, like an X-Box or PlayStation. Back then, punishment was real. Parents got angry, and there wasn’t anything to take away (television only had about 10 channels so what would have been the point?) There wasn’t anything to take away except perhaps our self-esteem, which, as it turns out, is a lot harder to give back than any X-Box or cell phone.
I remember being punished most often for the times that I was most like myself … not because I did horrid things … but because I was too exuberant; too loud; too excited … too afraid … and so, after a while, I stopped being most like myself. I learned to be quiet, be still, and be indifferent.
Did anyone else have that experience? And so, you know that what it does to our souls is force us to choose betweenbeing most like ourselves and being loved and accepted. What (No) child should have to make that choice.
As we grow older, that shell, or veneer we’ve built around ourselves starts to feel like the real deal. It grows thicker when we get to school, where the best shell wins, and my shell can beat the crap out of your shell, or my shell got invited to the prom, so you better work on yours. It begins to be you, and me,and all of us, until we can no longer differentiate between who we really are, and the veneer that we’ve built around ourselves for the sake of being loved and accepted.
One of the first awakenings that something is wrong happens when someone has the nerve to diss your veneer. Can you imagine? “Hey, I don’t like you.” And you’re thinking, “What do mean? Me? I’ve worked hard to create this person; this façade. How could you not like this image of moderation and mediocrity I’ve created?” Well, my veneer doesn’t like your veneer. So there.
Another awakening is the sheer exhaustion from the God-awful strength it takes to keep up your veneer … even when you think you’ve got it on auto-pilot, it takes a tremendous amount of energy - maybe not to keep up the veneer, as much as repress your true soul; that gleeful, eager, sometimes too loud, being; that wild, untamed child that lives within you still, despite the fact that you haven’t fed or watered him; you haven’t kissed or tickled her, or traded hugely grotesque faces in the mirror that your mother or father promised you would get stuck that way if you kept it up.
It lives and waits, despite the neglect.
Our untamed soul, our wild child soul waits for us. If you’ve ever had a dog as a pet, you know their waiting, and their welcoming: it doesn’t matter if you’ve been gone 5 minutes or 5 months. The joy just flows from their very being, and they don’t apologize for being exuberant, loud, or oh so very excited that you’ve come back to them. Sometimes, they even pee they’re so excited – right in front of you.
So waits our soul, for the sound of the car pulling into the driveway, the sound of the door knob turning. It doesn’t matter how long it’s been – it waits ready to show its joy – unashamed, knowing that its pure love is your true self – exactly as it was when you were a child, before you learned you had to choose between it and love and acceptance.
And now that many of us have reached an age, where those who came before us may no longer be with us; or may no longer hold provenance over us; the veneer doesn’t feel quite as reassuring as it once did, like a support garment that rides up in all the wrong places (souncomfortable), and we wonder who the veneer is for anymore. As if suddenly, we are aware of a voice; a tiny voice calling our name. A voice inside us, asking us to come out and play. And we let that veneer drop, smashing into a million pieces on the floor (and no, we don’t have to clean it up); That voice is louder now. Come out and play! Take that first deep, clean breath and run, skip, and twirl to join it, all the while singing a made up song at the top of your lungs.
I was lucky enough to have someone really see me; hear my voice, and take the marksman shot that cracked the veneer wide open. Who will do that for you?
Will you? I hope for the day that each of you can say, “See me for who I really am; hear my voice. I am love and acceptance. I am me for the first time in a long time, and I’m here to stay.”