This month, in my coaching group, THE CIRCLE OF POWER, the topic was called, “It’s Time to Leave the Masquerade.” We’re discussing each week the masks we wear to protect the TRUTH of why we do what we do. We’re digging deeper to know our authentic selves. This is a great find that touches on just that from one of favorite blogs, Tiny Buddha. Check out this article for more….
Own Your Power,
“Don’t think you’re on the right road just because it’s a well-beaten path.” ~Unknow
Growing up in Appalachia, women always had grace, class, and sweet iced tea in the refrigerator for unexpected visitors. They smiled when called ma’am or darling and kept an immaculate home.
Many Appalachian women also abided by two rules: It’s impolite to say no, and (my mother’s favorite adage), be as nice as you possibly can and everyone will realize you’re the better person.
For me, this translated as always say yes and play nice. I thought this equated to being compassionate and sensitive.
You’re stranded on the side of the road four hours away during an ice storm? I’ll get you. You want to be intimate on the first date? I don’t want you to dislike me, so okay. You think I’m hateful, unworthy, and a crybaby? You’re probably right.
Yet, I played nice for so long that laughter turned to appeasement, confidence turned to harassment and verbal abuse, kindness turned to obligation.
As I allowed others to treat me unkindly and without respect, somewhere living soulfully became nonexistent. I always thought that I kept everyone at arm’s length with a smile on my face because I didn’t want to be hurt.
In reality, I was so angry at myself for those specific moments of being run over that I willingly began playing the victim.
It became easier to sabotage myself and continue down that road than to work hard and become a strong, outspoken, and vivacious woman again, which wouldn’t unfold until years later when I spent the night in the middle of nowhere.
In 2009, I left my Appalachian roots behind and hightailed it to the West Coast. But there was an unexpected pit stop in Marfa, Texas, population 2,000, where I changed courses forever.
Splitting the long drives cross-country, my fiancé slept as I descended onto this plateau of immeasurable prairie grass hemmed by stately mountains.
The sunset was hypnotic—a brilliant rust so unfamiliar as it slipped off the horizon. There was nowhere to hide. I was breathless and exposed.
Sitting by the motel pool in the dead of winter, the urge to cry was unbearable, but I didn’t know what to tell my fiancé, so I fought it. I was enraged, and diverted my attention to blogging, drinking, eating, and sleeping, but in a one-horse town on a Monday night, the only people for miles are nuns.
I had to look at me.
I couldn’t remember the last time that I was truly happy and laughed genuinely. Once again, I was angry that I had deprived myself of that. Then a flood of memories came back when I was strong, truthful, confident, and beautiful.
Those traits were still there. I may have disappeared into my own twilight hour, but I finally heard myself, standing alone watching the Marfa mystery lights with a thermos of bourbon, amidst tumbleweeds and dust devils. Never in my life had the physical moment connected so intensely with the spiritual.
I left the next morning exhausted.
Once the cross-country journey ended in San Francisco, I didn’t know how to be nice to my fiancé for two months because my only thought was, “Who am I?” I was paralyzed. I spent every day huddled on the floor between the bed and the wall pouring over job ads, trying to find anything that would give me a role to fill. I had no idea how to be myself.
That moment of clarity in the desert ultimately led to rediscovery, which was uncomfortable. I wasn’t leaving the apartment because all I had was myself, and I didn’t know or trust that person. And one day, I rode a bus and ate alone for the first time in my life…terrified.
My year in San Francisco became the most humble year of my life. My clothes didn’t even fill one dresser. I went from corporate guru to stocking the fridge in a law office.
As cliché as it sounds, taking the unpaved back road on this journey and abandoning the familiar was liberating.
My clothes fit better. I was glowing. My fiancé and I scraped by, but we were living in a gorgeous Edwardian apartment, eating amazing yet simple meals.
Indulgence was a scoop of ice cream or a good beer. Date nights were no longer extravagant dinners in ties and dresses but walks to the park after work to find my fiancé on a blanket reading. Then, we would wander across the city for hours until we decided to call it a night.
Nothing was judged or expected that year, and everything was appreciated.
I knew that it would be hard for me not to fall into old habits once I moved back to Virginia. I am a yes man again, and the anger toward myself builds each day. I feel as though I scattered pieces of myself across the country, my heart in San Francisco, my freedom in Marfa, but that’s not true.
I know that I am capable of practicing kindness toward myself and others while being authentic. I wrote to a friend that I met in Marfa after reading Baron Baptiste’s Journey into Power:
“I’ve been reading this book for a yoga workshop, and there was a passage about releasing yourself from the lies of everyday life that define you, and that you may not like who you…
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