Much of my life was spent in perform mode. I learnt early to put up a good show that all was well in my world, even in times when it really wasn’t. It wasn’t specifically discussed, but we learn from watching the dynamics at play at home, don’t we?
One thing that stands out for me is my father’s unwritten rule that we should all sit together in Church.
There were times when my parents had a massive argument the night before and hadn’t resolved things, yet off we went playing happy families in Church! My mother would sometimes rebel by not receiving Communion that Sunday. While my 57 year old self applauds her for doing that, my child self was embarrased by this. I’d wonder what the whole congregation would think of us!
I can’t begin to tell you how many people would tell us how they found us the ‘perfect family’. We certainly were not, but I felt the need to keep the facade up too.
Don’t Perform, Just Be
It was only in my late thirties and early forties that I began to find myself and start to open up a bit. But it wasn’t for many years after that I realized the importance of being authentic, of being vulnerable and telling others when things were not okay with me or my family.
Writing and especially my discovery of the Julia Cameron’s suggested ‘Morning Pages’ helped me to become more real. Having a partner who is a no-nonsense, straight talking guy also helped immensely.
When I began to write and speak more authentically, is when I started to realize that my family was embarrased by this. But that’s a story for another time.
Today I’m happy to be myself as much as I can. I’ve realized that my extroversion was a learnt behaviour and that I’m quite an introvert. Once I began to nuture my introverted self, I felt empowered to refuse engagements and meetings that didn’t feed my soul. I felt less pressure and a lot more freedom.
I have a long way to go before shed my old skin and allow my real self to be. There are times when I switch into ‘perform mode’ but with Grace, I realize this faster and pull myself back. But overall, I’m giving myself permission to be ME.
Linking in to #FiveMinuteFriday