Saturday, March 29, 2008

Being mistaken

When I was a little girl there was a story told about how my father lost a case of beer and twenty dollars because I was a girl. My mother wanted me to be born on December 8 and I popped into the world a few minutes after midnight on December 9. My mother still asks me, "Why can't you be like your sisters. What is wrong with you?" She doesn't mean me harm. She is just in the habit of asking the question.

Throughout my life, I've told the story of my father's loss many times. I've heard my mother's questions and always replied, 'Because I'm me.' I've laughed about it and yet, in my heart, pain grew. I didn't want to be unwanted or criticized for being different. I didn't want to be the cause of my father's disappointment. And, I didn't want to cause my mother pain by being me, I wanted to give her joy because I am me.

On Thursday night at Choices, I was speaking with Joe, (facilitator at Choices) about how in that room with the coaches, I feel so incredibly accepted. A very foreign place for me I told him. Never knew what that felt like in the past. Always felt like an outsider in my family. Different. Not the same. Other than. I told him how I'd always kept myself apart. Always appeared to be part of the group, but most often stood on the periphery, watching, observing, taking it in, acting like I was participating but always holding something of 'me' back.

"I'm a writer," I told him. "Writer's observe."

"What has that cost you?" Joe asked me.

"The thing I've said I want most in life," I told him. "Intimacy."

Within me is a core belief, a message, a tape I tell myself unconsciously, over and over again, particularly in times of stress. It stems from what I 'heard' in the story of my father's loss when I was born, my mother's disappointment in the date of my birth, in her questionning of why I was different, why I was 'me'.

It is not a message they wanted me to have. It is not a story they meant to give me or intentionally told me to cause me pain. They only meant to love me. And they did, the best way they knew how. But those stories, those questions became part of my life tapestry, part of the warp and weave of the stories I told myself about me. As a child, I was too young to understand that those stories were not about 'me' but rather, stories about the world around me. I couldn't make sense of them and was too frightened to ask for help so I took the stories in and held them close like a child clutching her security blanket. Those stories told me who I was. I couldn't let them go because I didn't know how to be any different. As an adult, I unwittingly cultivated the stories, nurtured them, lived them because I wanted to understand what was so wrong with me that nobody wanted me to be me. It must be my fault I can't be me, I told myself as I kept trying to figure out the answer by proving the question right.

To avoid my confusion and pain, deep within me I bought into the big lie, Nobody wants me. I am a mistake.

In acknowledging that lie exists within me, I can see where I have played it out again and again in my life, continually dishonouring my gifts, my talents, my uniqueness, because I thought 'me as me' was the mistake. Nobody, including myself, wanted me to be me.

Because I didn't believe I was supposed to be me, I tried in countless situations to be someone who I wasn't. I kept trying to walk in someone else's footprints, behind someone else's shadow because I couldn't see my own light in the darkness of believing I was a mistake. And through it all, I didn't dare show my fear that someone would know I was playing a role I had no lines for. I didn't dare let them see, I was lost in looking for someone else to pull my strings so I could move freely on the stage of life.

To protect myself from my fear, I had to keep myself on the outside looking in. I had to hide my confusion, my angst behind an image of self-confidence because what I feared more than anything was that the tape was true. I was a mistake. Nobody wanted me.

The beauty and gift of Choices is, I can hear and see and feel that tape today and know, it is The Lie.

In having spent my life trying to fix the mistake that was me, today I get to celebrate the incredible joy of being mistaken.

I am not a mistake. God doesn't make mistakes. I am a gift. A blessing in the world. A unique voice like no other. A miracle of life.

We all are.

The question is: What tapes do you play in your head that keep you from experiencing the wonder and joy of who you are? What lies do you tell yourself about yourself that limit the awesome breadth of your wingspan?

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