This week I am going to take a break from writing about autism and the antics of life with Zion, and write about something that quite frankly, I need to get out. And perhaps, if I’m lucky, it will also benefit a few to read.
I spent way too much of my life morphing.
Just doing things that I thought would make people love me.
It didn’t matter what I believed. Or needed. Or wanted to do.
I did what made everyone else smile. And what would make them love me more.
From a very early age, I learned that…if even just for a minute…when I was entertaining and distracting people, they could forget about my imperfections.
Or perhaps so I could forget about them.
So I became funny. And sang a lot. I learned to play instruments. And make things.
And people were happy.
I sang solos in church.
I made people laugh.
I learned to make things like jewelry and decoupage and mosaics.
People liked that. It made them smile.
Then I became a teenager, and the people who were supposed to love me were constantly telling me to lose weight.
I didn’t like that.
They bought me Deal-a-Meal diet cards and Weight Watchers memberships and told me I would be so pretty if I would just lose weight.
And I believed them.
So I tried to do what they said.
But it didn’t work.
Because people resent doing things out of obligation.
We just want to be loved and accepted for who we are.
When we are told to change, what we are hearing is that we are not good enough.
That we are taking up too much precious space.
That we are not worthy of their time or their love.
We don’t want to do things out of debt and requirement.
We want to do them out of love.
In my teens I fell in very deep love with a male friend.
I spent years trying to win the unwinnable man.
Poured my efforts into him.
Wrote him songs and journals and poetry that he never read or heard.
When he told me to jump, I asked “how high?” and dropped everything at a moment’s notice to be with him.
I read the bible with him and the books he recommended and did everything just right.
Or so I thought.
I turned down dates with other men and spent evenings alone just waiting for his calls… that never came.
Unrequited love is painful. It makes us do truly crazy things.
I spent time and energy and money over and over and over again.
But it wasn’t enough. It was never enough.
Even after all these years, there is still the tiniest little candle flicker of hope in my heart that he will pull a Ted Mosby and show up with the blue french horn. (No, that’s not a euphemism.)
But what I’ve recently realized is that it is his very unwillingness to be won over that made me want him for so long.
Just wanting what I can’t have.
And constantly playing out that happy ending in my mind.
Well guess what?
I’ve ended it.
And that makes it happy.
In my early twenties I recorded an album of songs about Jesus that I wrote and performed…but didn’t believe.
But I couldn’t admit that. I was terrified.
I wanted to be loved.
I wanted people to believe I was talented.
Then in my late twenties, I’d had enough pretending. I broke out of the Potter’s Hands and went off on my own, fast and loose for a while.
And during that time, I got pregnant.
Wanna find out who your village truly is?
Get knocked up out of wedlock when you’re supposed to be taking a sabbatical from ministry.
That village will dwindle pretty damned fast.
What I had to learn, on my own, is that building a village that is based on their perception of your goodness is not a village at all.
That is a jury.
Never mind that I was a virgin until I was 28.
Or that I had spent the prime years of my life in missions instead of partying or hanging out in bars.
I was written off by the very people I had sought so hard to win over…just like that.
So yet again, I did what others expected, and I got married.
That made the dwindling village happy. They liked that.
It has been 6 years since the divorce.
In 2009, I finally mustered the strength to put a stop to sacrificing my own happiness to make other people happy.
And I started living my truest life.
And it has been fantastically liberating.
I no longer edit or filter or sift through the likable details to make people happy.
I’m just me.
And that person is imperfect.
I mess up every single day.
I yell too much.
I am a recovering food addict.
I swear….a LOT.
Constantly starting things I don’t finish.
House in perpetual wreckage.
I don’t go to church, but I do believe strongly in a Higher Power.
And right now I am my most authentic self.
And I will continue to be that, whether or not you like it or approve.
It is true that I have yet to meet a quality man who is willing to be a part of this madness…and that’s more than okay.
I refuse to pretend anymore. I will never again transform myself into someone I am not.
Even if that means having a smaller village.
Even if that means being single.
Even if that means being overweight.
I am perfectly shattered and a right beautiful mess.
But I am free.