April 23

HONESTY MONTH: DAY 23: “You wear a mask for so long, you forget who you were beneath it.” ― Alan Moore

This is what I felt like for many years. I had this story of who I was, based on what I did. That is NOT how it works. I am not the sum total of my life experiences…I have feelings about them, some good, quite a few bad; but that does not define who I AM. It took a long time and a great deal of work to uncover who I was, and sometimes I am still surprised when I reveal things to myself and others that I was not aware were in me. I tend to disregard those who think I am this or that, based on their view of what I do. Often, however, I am given a mirror by others who show me what I am up to. I do not like that all of the time. When good and kind people are drawn into my experience, I am sometimes shocked, because I do not believe I inherently embody those qualities. I work hard to be kind…it is not my go-to thought process, but I have learned to act against that first reaction I have and be kind anyway. I mostly want to push people away, but don’t do that. When I am most struck by kindness is when I am around animals and abused or injured (emotionally or mentally) people. Their fear is something I can resonate with and respond to most of the time. I can love others when they are broken, and that is my gift. The ones others throw away are my people, and I am drawn into their space by the mutual understanding of broken-ness and fear. I am no longer afraid of much, because I have survived things I thought would kill me and they didn’t. That gives me a sense of strength that I am amazed at. I am not going to avoid awkwardness or confusion, because it is in the building of these bridges that relationship happens, in my experience. I would love to make a mental collage of all the amazing and wonderful people I have ever met, but I can only remember them at certain times and there are so many to think about! I love the idea, though and would love to tell the story of my life, based on the people with whom I have shared important moments, even if they were fleeting and passed quickly. I really hope that is what is going to happen at the end of my life. Even if I have to view those things of which I am not at all proud, I would love to relive special moments with important people, because those are the most treasured and cherished things I have. And I think that who I am can be more easily recognized in the moments that are most impactful for me than in what I have done. In the process of doing this recovery thing and working through those resentments and doing this over and over, I have come to cherish (truly) a good number of those people who appeared on those lists. As I stop the insane behaviors that drove that anger, I have come to appreciate and love most of them in new and wonderful ways. I did not expect that. I thought I could make some peace, perhaps, but I have been given greater gifts than I ever knew. I have grown in compassion and empathy and love to the point that it frightens me sometimes. I did not EVER want to be this lame…I thought it would give others the power to hold something over me that I did not want to give. That left me a long time ago and now I am just happy that I can give a shit and it doesn’t matter how you believe about that or what you think of me…what a great thing that is…the masks are off!

Published by: Kelly

I am a therapist and counselor with long-term recovery from addictions and personal trauma. My writing reflects these experiences and the road I have traveled in 12-Step recovery settings, along with the work I have done for over 30 years in the field. My love of dolphins includes the stories of them being healers in places all over the world. I long to offer every broken spirit and body the experience of a healing hug. May my words and stories inform, uplift and delight your spirit and soothe your weary heart.

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