When I was five years old, I looked my mother in the eye and said, “I’m never having children.”
“What?” she said as she cocked her head. “But you’re a girl, and girls are supposed to have babies.”
“I think it’s a big, fat lie,” I told her.
That memory is as vivid today as it was decades ago.
I may not have known what I wanted, but I “knew” that I didn’t want to have children. Something about it didn’t feel “right” within me. Sure, if it had happened, I would have embraced it, but it was not what I wanted from life.
For years, my mother hounded me to have children, and it got to a point where she told me I needed psychological help.
I laughed. It was the most absurd thing ever to come out of her mouth.
Because I didn’t fit into her construct of what a woman should do with her life, she tried to manipulate me into thinking that I had a problem. Nice try. She was angry because she wanted to be a grandmother, and in her mind I was denying her.
I never wanted the “traditional” life, not that there is anything “wrong” with that kind of life. I just know it’s not for me. And while others aren’t okay with it, I am.
Walking the spiritual path and living the authentic life, as I have stated in previous posts, is not for wimps. Coming out of the spiritual closet takes initiative and courage.
And as soon as you do, the Goliaths will show up to challenge you because you are not doing things “their” way; that is, you are not doing things in the ways that they think you should. This is because of the social programming they learned. As you live your authentic life, the Goliaths will fade harmoniously away, or they will use your example to begin transforming their lives. Some of those Goliaths will be in your own mind and may need deconstructing through the help of your support system, spiritual practices, and personal educational plan.
A former student and close friend of mine is now facing this dilemma. She said she “doesn’t want to feel awkward” because she’s “not dating” or because she doesn’t know what she wants. She ended by asking, “Is getting married and making kids supposed to be what I want?”
Supposed to? There’s that programming again.
She is absolutely torn because she is looking outward for answers instead of inward.
Such questions are the starting points of the journey to the authentic self. We start feeling our “right” in the middle of all the “wrong.” What we once thought of as gospel becomes garbage. It no longer works, it no longer fits, it no longer defines.
The spiritual path to your authentic life requires an open mind, free from the distractions brought on by social programming. This means deprogramming yourself and letting go of others’ ideas of how you should live your life. Society doesn’t dictate who you are, though it thinks it should. You dictate who you are.
Choosing to step out on your own path takes testicular fortitude. It takes asking the deeper, sometimes harder questions of yourself. It takes facing yourself in the face of others.
Being spiritual means breaking with convention. Call it “breaking bad” because that is how some will perceive you when you veer away from the “establishment.” Sticking with convention may have its advantages for those who need it, but thinking — and living — outside of the box is more expansive and creative.
Coming out spiritually is an act of self-love. It gives you the freedom to grow, to create, to expand, and to express yourself uniquely and authentically. No longer will you feel held back or stifled by the expectations of others. There is no reason to hide behind the door of fear any longer. Your light wants to shine. Let it.
Everything that happens on the spiritual path becomes a learning, or relearning, experience. As you unlearn the social programming thrust upon you in your formative years and reinforced for many years thereafter, your true vision begins to return. You will be able to “see” again through a holistic lens.
Stand in front of a mirror. This is an exercise in learning to love the person you see, even if you don’t like everything about yourself. This is not about perfection, and perfection is certainly not necessary for love.
If you find it hard to love yourself, you’ll need to examine what thoughts and feelings stand in the way of loving yourself. Most of the time, if not all, you’ll find it going back to your personal or social programming.
As you stand in front of the mirror, start with one part of yourself that you do not view as “perfect” and say “I love my _______________.” Every day, return to the mirror to view this part of your body and repeat, “I love my _______________.” If there is another part of your body that you view as “imperfect,” repeat that you love that area as well. Repeat for at least 3 – 5 minutes. Do this every day for 30 days. Examine your reflection and your parts through eyes of love instead of the disgust you were programmed with, as you repeat your love for yourself. Make this a daily meditation.
A variation of this exercise is to start with one part of yourself that you love, and say “I love my __________.” Each day add another part of you that you love. If you start with your eyes, say “I love my eyes.” The next day add “I love my eyes and my toes.” On the third day add “I love my eyes, my toes, and my hair.” And so on. Do for 30 days.
Read the introduction of 31 Days of Spiritual Growth here, and find links to all posts in this series.