Friday, April 27, 2007

I am not an island

My eldest daughter came home last night. Drunk. Or, as I prefer to call it, tipsy. Much more delicate, genteel, 'funny'. Needless to say, as the mother of a 21 year old, I am torn between wanting to caution her against the perils of alcohol, and acceptance of her right to make mistakes in the hope that she will learn from them. I need to weigh her actions last night against the countless times she's gone out and not come home drunk. I need to give way to her right to find her ground and stand firm in her ability to take care of herself.

She has lots to be proud of. Lots to celebrate. Yesterday was her last exam. Through the course of her two year diploma program in Theatre Arts, she has been on the Dean's List every semester. She's received two scholarships, the lead in several productions and has volunteered at the Drop-In, taken a personal development course and is volunteering as a coach for that course in June. She's got lots to be proud of and I'm proud of her.

The fact she imbibed a bit too much last night, is not indicative of a life on the rails, it's reflective of her tiredness, her exuberance and her forgetfulness!

This morning, she woke up and sheepishly asked, "How did I get so drunk?"

I could tell her but I'm sure she'll figure that out later today. The question is, will she remember the lesson next time she wants to celebrate and goes out drinking on an empty stomach. For better or worse, she is responsible for her decisions. Just like me.

I admire my daughters. Don't get me wrong. I don't agree with going out and getting drunk. Never could figure out how anyone could say they had a great time when they can't remember the events. When I was a teenager, however, I did not go out and get drunk. Didn't dare. The shame would have been a heavy burden. The condemnation from my parents too devastating. While my fear kept me safe, my resistance to 'letting it all hang out' kept me from experiencing life to the fullest, in the moment, without regret. As I've matured, I appreciate a glass of wine, and I recognize that wine does not make the memories, its who I am, who I'm with that makes the difference.

What I admire about my daughters is their acceptance of themselves. Their ability to 'Have Fun'. To act ridiculous and to accept themselves, just the way they are. I watch them building memories of this time in their life and am in awe of their laughter, their joy, their exuberance.

I don't remember having fun for the sake of having fun when I was a teenager. I remember a few funny situations. Times when fun was the purpose of what we did. But I don't remember the feeling of 'having fun'.

I was always too much in my head, too conscious of what other people were thinking of me, too fearful of looking stupid, or not pretty or even ugly to be free enough to just go have fun. To do that would have meant I had to leave my ego at home -- and my ego was never safe at home! I always had to take it with me.

For me, the question today becomes, where in my life do I continue to manifest the fear of having fun? Of just being me without worrying about the image I project?

Good question.

I've read a lot and done a great deal around finding my 'authentic' self. I've dug into my core, roto-rootered through my psyche in search of the real me and always wondered, how will I know when I've found her?

As an 'observer', I have spent most of my life watching the world, trying to figure out where I fit in and how I relate. Observing kept me safe. Today, my mission is not to keep me safe, it's to put myself out there, to risk being unsafe, experiencing life outside my comfort zones so that I can become a more loving, caring, authentic human being capable of creating a loving world around me. I've given up looking for my authentic self. I've found her. She's here, right now, doing what she does in this moment, because, that's what she does -- pretty, ugly or pretty ugly -- what she does is a reflection of her beauty and the beast.

In my acceptance of being myself in this moment, my once passive voice has experienced a revolution. No longer willing to sit on the sidelines and observe injustice, wrong-doing or the destruction of the human spirit, I have become much more vocal and passionate about my speaking up. About stating my observations in a way that positions me as an agent of change.

In my history, being an observer kept me safe from ridicule. I could watch, and never speak up. As an observer, I filtered what I saw, what I perceived through my socialization, my conditioning, my personal habits and life style, my routines that trapped me in the process of doing, rather than being. My habit of staying silent led me into some very dark and dangerous pathways. My ability to speak up today keeps me safe as I step into each day confident in who I am. My value and values. My principles and beliefs.

To be me, I must become actively involved in my being.

To be my authentic self, it is my responsibility to move through observing into disclosure and ultimately into leadership. To be authentic, I must claim my light and stand without fear of the shadows around me.

I may never find the real mccoy, the authentic of my authentic me. Some days, the chaos of my life leaves me feeling as though I am not in relationship with anyone other than my head! In reality, I have been in relationship since the moment of my conception. Everything I have done, said, or become has been affected by and had an effect upon the world around me.

As a human being I am co-creator of my world. As John Dunne said, 'no man is an island'. In chaos theory, it is the relationship between objects that gives them value. A pebble on the beach, once removed and carried home, loses its lustre when taken out of context to the world in which it was found.

My authentic self, when dug into and exposed, loses its lustre when I isolate it from my world and place it on a shelf for future reference.

I am not an island.

Last night my daughter came home drunk and I was reminded of the past where I was too fearful to be myself without worrying about the opinion of others. Whatever lesson she takes from her experience, I will find my own and from that relationship will move further along in my journey of loving myself, just the way I am.

For today, I am committed to being who I am without fear that who I am is not enough. For today, I accept, I am enough.

May you travel today in the beauty of being enough, just the way you are.


Leanne said...

You always amaze me. I feel like your voice is coming from inside me when you write. Your writing allows me to "see" what I am feeling and to be more aware of doing something about it. Hugs to you Louise.

M.L. Gallagher said...

Hugs right back Leanne! You are beautiful and amazing, just the way you are!

And thank you for joining me in taking God's breath away.

Anne said...

Louise, as I read through your blogs (a few at a time) I pray that God may give me the courage and wisdom to change! This was also me growing up!! Scared of what others thought and living in fear of being me, Whoever me was! Having fun was something that others did and I wished I could have!! Thank you for the courage to share your thoughts and life with us! I thank God for placing you in my cirlce of life!!
Thank you!! HUGS, Anne

M.L. Gallagher said...

Thanks Anne. I am grateful for your light on my journey too!