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My Granny was one of my greatest spiritual mentors. It was not until she had a stroke and could no longer walk or talk that many of the words that she had spoken to me over and over throughout my life finally really sunk into me. It was like all of her teaching time was over, and the lessons were finally transferred to me, and I began saying the words back to her….reminding her of her own lessons as she suffered greatly at the end of her life. It was beautiful and sad at the same time.

“I finally get it Granny, and now we cannot talk about it together. You can no longer speak, and I am speaking your words back into you.”

But the good news is that although she is no longer with us I did finally get it, and she has left a legacy of spiritual wisdom here on earth.

Granny had many flaws and issues. She was far from perfect, but she lived a long life of fearless faith. She showed me the power of the Holy Spirit in a surrendered and humble human being. She never made a spectacle of herself when the spirit moved her. It was not for show with her. It was reality.

She taught me far too many things to mention in one short post, but a few small examples come to mind.

She taught me about the power of spoken words to create in our lives through faith or in fear. It is our choice.

She taught me that prayer works.

Everyone used to call her and say, “Will you pray for me about such and such because your prayers work.” She would always firmly tell me, “Your prayers work too! But, yes, I will agree with you in prayer of course.”

I will never forget walking into her bedroom as a little child crying with unbearable pain in my feet…..an odd ailment that tormented me many a night in my childhood. She whisked me upon the bed with Papa and her, grabbed my feet and began praying out loud for healing. She even commanded the devil to leave my feet alone which I thought was very strange even as a child…..but to my astonishment it worked! My feet instantly stopped hurting, and that had never happened before. It was a lesson in faith that bewildered me but that I also never forgot.

I sometimes quietly told myself that she was really an angel in disguise on earth. She had learned over her long life the art of  keeping a gentle tone in her voice when dealing with us kids, and her hair was even snow-white which fit the angel persona in my childhood mind.

Although she was quite the Alpha woman, a leader, a mover and a shaker….she was also gentle and compassionate in her approach…..a delicate balance of power and humility.

Even her death seemed divinely orchestrated. She passed away quietly in her sleep early one Thanksgiving morning when the family was already gathered in from out of town for Thanksgiving Day. And it seems fitting that she would leave us with one last message just by passing on that day…..Be grateful for all of life, but do not fear death for it is also a part of life.

Last year when my family suffered two horrible losses…..the death of a baby and the sudden death of a beloved young uncle…..my mom found a copy of a prayer tucked away in my grandmother’s keepsakes. We read it at our private outdoor memorial. It seemed like Granny’s contribution to us during this difficult time. It must have been a prayer that she kept close to her heart, and it is a prayer that I hope to live by every day. I will close with the prayer:

Keep us O God from pettiness: let us be large in thought, in word, in deed.

     Let us be done with fault finding, and leave off self-seeking. May we put away all pretense and meet each other face to face without self-pity and without prejudice.

     May we never be hasty in judgment and always generous.

     Let us take time for all things: make us to grow calm, serene, gentle.

     Teach us to put into action our better impulses, straight forward, and unafraid. Grant that we realize it is the little things that create differences and that in the big things of life we are as one.

     And may we strive to touch and know the great common human heart of us all, and O God, let us forget not to be kind.                                                                                                                                                                 Amen

 

Why do we feel this intense pressure to act as if everything is great and that we are always okay. Why do we as a society put such limiting and unrealistic expectations on one another? There is so much loneliness in the world. There are so many lonely people in the midst of a crowed. There are people who you think are so happy and content that are hiding great pain and sorrow. There are people who are surrounded by people but feel completely disconnected. There are people smiling when they really want to cry, and maybe they should be crying actually. Why do we feel like we have to be “little miss ray of sunshine” in order to be accepted? Or maybe in a different crowed we feel the pressure to be constantly cynical and unhappy in order to be accepted. Why can’t we just be real?

The truth is that we are not always happy. Sometimes we have good reasons to be heavy-hearted, and acting like little miss sunshine in those times is actually a little insane. We also are not always miserable, and acting as if the world is coming to an end all the time is equally crazy.

I spent many years of my life covering up and pushing down a great deal of pain and sorrow. I felt that I had to hide the truth about my life when I was growing up. I had to be happy all the time even though I was often quite depressed.  Showing weakness was a big no-no for me. It was not something that I consciously did, but it was a behavior that I had learned so well that it seemed natural.

Now that I am older I realize that all of that truth, all of those negative feelings, all of the sorrow that I pushed down and ignored  did not go anywhere. It remained inside me and festered. When you fake it and push real feelings and truth away without releasing it….it actually gets worse. And it comes out in other ways like depression, addictions, loneliness, sickness, moodiness, dysfunction and the list goes on and on.

I was so well-trained in my childhood to hide things and to show the world a “happy front” that I still find it extremely difficult to cry. Now I know logically that crying is good and okay. It is natural and helpful, but it does not come naturally for me so I continue to hold back, and the reward is a very heavy heart at times. I honestly wish that I could just be the girl who cries at the drop of a hat sometimes. It would feel so much better, but I am having to relearn everything that I learned growing up. And I learned to be strong and to hold it together very well apparently. But that is not healthy all the time.

I do not put on the “happy front” all the time anymore. Sometimes I feel happy, but if  I don’t then I am not going to fake it at all times anymore. I don’t want to constantly live behind a mask anymore, and I am bothered by the fact that most people seem to live behind masks most of their lives. It seems to be the norm in our society, and it is not healthy. It takes away our human connection. It hides our hearts. It is not real.

Real is not always pretty. Sometimes it is dark and raw, but it is beautiful. It is art. It is romance. It is a masterpiece in the making. It is a dance that is life. It is human, and it is spirit. It is real. It is truth. And truth cannot be wrong in my book.

I still have not mastered the art of living totally mask free at all times. Sometimes my mask is on, and I do not even notice it because it feels so natural. Sometimes it just feels easier to have it on, but I am getting there. I am working on it. I am taking risks, and little by little I am becoming free. One day I will live my life completely free of the mask.

I wrote a poem one day when I was struggling with this issue in myself and in our society called, “About Us.”

Here it is:

If you took off your mask who would you be?
If you remove all those things that you want us to see?
All of the things that you wish you could be

Take off the suit that you put on to make us believe you are doing so well.
What weakness is really hiding under your veil?
What is the reality that is hidden from us?
What truth are you afraid that we will see?
Who are you really behind all the happy faces, wise words and good deeds?

I think I’d rather know the you that’s inside.
Even the pain that you try so hard to hide.
You are more interesting with all of your flaws.
All of this fake wholeness is a bore and a lie.
Show your true self. You might be surprised if you try.

It’s your pain, your imperfections, your real humanity,
That makes you the most uniquely beautiful person to me.
So when you have the courage to reveal your true self to me,
My mask falls off, our true lights connect, and we are both set free.

I am trying to get to the heart of my authentic self. It is scary at times, and people will reject it. There are people who want to cling to their own mask and so they do not want anyone else to remove theirs. This is a chance that I have to take though. I have come to the point in life when I cannot live outside of myself anymore. I encourage people to join me in this. It is freeing in spite of the risks. Thanks to everyone who is willing to take off their own mask and is also willing to allow others to do the same.

There are things that have caused me a great amount of dysfunction in my life. It is very disheartening when the things that are supposed to be easy and come naturally to a human being are a struggle. This can cause a great deal of frustration that unfortunately can turn into a pity party at times when healing seems hopeless. Being unable to function normally in some of the most basic ways can bring on horrible feelings of failure. Someone wise told me that if you have trouble with the basic human needs of sleep, sex, and eating then you know that there is something seriously wrong that has taken place in your life. Well I have problems with all of those. Eating would be the least of these problems because I do eat, but I tend to crave and eat things that are not good for me.  The other two issues are much more severe though.

I have been in and out of therapy, and I have talked until I was blue in the face about all of the traumatic experiences that I have endured throughout my life. I remember a great deal of traumatic experiences beginning very early on and continuing into adulthood. Some of these that occurred during adulthood are experiences that I brought upon myself trying to deal with my past or just continuing the cycle of family dysfunction. In spite of all this talking, therapy, and psychology I still suffer from much of the same dysfunction. It has not helped.

There is something lurking in my subconscious that is continuing to wreak havoc in my life. There seems to be something in my past that was so ugly that in order to survive it I blocked it out. The reason that I know it is there at all is because the effects of it are so severe and undeniable, and I cannot seem to get past them. It is kind of like that place in Siberia where all of the trees were burned up, and it looks like an atomic bomb hit, but no one seems to know what caused the devastation. It is a weird, scary and frustrating situation.

I find it very intriguing that we as human beings have cellular memory. In some way every cell in our bodies carry our memories. This is fairly new science, but it makes sense to me because I carry an enormous amount of pain, tension, and anxiety in my body. It is like my body knows something that is painful and frightening, and because my consciousness has not been able to face it yet my dear old body is carrying it for me. It would be nice to be able to release it, but with all of my armor and defense mechanisms it just holds on for dear life.

Another very strange truth is that this subconscious boogy man is something that I apparently cannot remember, yet it is something that I already know. I was there when “it” happened.  My body knows it and still reacts to it in many ways that I would rather keep to myself. And my mind already knows it, but I cannot remember it to save my life. Weird!

I have thought many times that maybe there is really nothing there at all, but I am afraid that is just wishful thinking. All of the signs point to “something” there. I am getting closer to it. It is beginning to creep its way into my dreams in very subtle ways, but I still cannot grasp exactly what “it” is yet.

I do not know if remembering something is essential, but I do know that I desperately want to be free from the devastating effects that trauma has had on my life, and in order to find this freedom there is something more that I have to face aside from the truck load of junk that I have already faced.

I have prayed for years and years for God to free me. He has freed me from so much, but there is still a huge hurdle for me to jump. I do not know why this is taking so long, but I do believe in the perfection of divine timing because I have seen it work in my life many times before.  Receiving healing and freedom is quite a long process for me which can cause frustration, self pity and feelings of failure at times. But in this long process I am also gaining a great amount of wisdom, humility, and compassion for which I am very grateful.

I am sorry that the blogs have been heavy in nature so far. I promise that there is also a very silly, crazy, nutty side to me, but that has not been what has bubbled out so far. I think that writing this blog is part of my healing and by releasing some of my secrets I am getting closer to the end of a long chapter of secret keeping, fear, and pain.

I know that I am not alone in these issues and that these things that I write may ring bells for some of you. That along with my own healing are the reasons that I am sharing these things. Even if we never discuss these things together or even if we do not know each other, if we have been through similar things then we are connected in spirit. Together we are stronger, and as we each move towards our own healing we are helping to heal one another as well.