This morning I was upset for once again losing emotional control during my bi-monthly breakfast with my ex – girlfriend M.J. I have always told M.J that the most contained person wins, and this morning as always; she won. I have been musing all day about why ‘losing’ has such resonance for me.
Thich Nhat Hanh has said being mindful can make washing the dishes a profound event, as theory to which I totally subscribe. During my evening dishes meditation, a childhood memory floated up to my consciousness . My father Joe was a brilliant and charismatic man. Joe was also a very angry man, and that angry part would appear when I was ‘bad’, and I would be punished for my ‘badness’.
What were my transgressions? Speaking my mind; having my own opinion which almost always differed from his; and behaving in general as if I had my own agency. This in a family where individuality was not prized; was dangerous.
As a child I had the idea that if I never showed emotion during punishment which dependant on his mood ; vacillated between yelling or hitting with a strap; then I ‘won’.
I couldn’t stop my father from hitting me, but I could withhold my tears, not giving him the satisfaction of seeing me broken. I stopped crying when I was six, and did not cry again until my early forties. I have spent more than a considerable amount of time in therapy, deconstructing my insistence on wearing a mask. Even with all those therapy hours, the belief that protected is better than vulnerable has stayed with me until today.
How many people still wear the masks they put on in childhood, believing these masks will keep them safe from harm? I wore so many, for so long that I almost believed that I was not wearing one at all, such was my self-deception. Masks not only kept me from being seen, they also denied people the opportunity to see. Today I declare that my vulnerability is my super power, and I choose now to be seen in all my messy, tearful glorious beauty.