A little over a week in, and I have already learned this authenticity commitment is a bit more of a challenge than I thought it would be. I imagined it would be a simple matter of proclaiming, this is who I am, what you see, is what you get, here is my truth. That’s great, however, I discovered this week, there are times I just really don’t know the truth. Sometimes the truth gets buried under years of protecting the feelings of others, and shame and guilt.
This is where my Higher Power steps in. By openly declaring my word, a spiritual pact has been formed between myself and God. This year’s word, AUTHENTIC, I’ve decided to essentially follow what I call a Four Agreements lifestyle. For those of you unfamiliar, the four agreements come from the book of the same name, written by Don Miguel Ruiz and published about eighteen years ago. I read it way back then, and again off and on through the years, usually desperately, when a patch of quicksand on life’s road threatened to take me down. Its simplicity is perfect for people like me who occasionally spend far too much excavating and then dissecting things in my head.
The Four Agreements are:
Be impeccable with your word. (A little irony here perhaps)
Don’t take anything personally.
Don’t make assumptions.
Always do your best.
Simple. Right? Not at all.
Last week I got to work on being impeccable with my word. With myself. God thought it was time. I have to be open to learning more about who this authentic creature is and how she operates in order to not tell myself anymore lies. In an interview a few years ago Alanis Morrisette said something and it stuck in a random brain cell. She said, “I hate my own lying. I need to get to the bottom of it until there is no lie left.” Being impeccable with your word includes the things you tell yourself. Authenticity begins at home.
Those lies aren’t intentional. I consider myself a painfully self-aware, honest person, sometimes struggling in identifying when the honesty has turned into self-flagellation. Some things are buried so deep, we can’t seem to unearth them on our own, or we don’t deal with them until they begin to affect our lives. They are the subtle tales we’ve woven, usually for many years. It takes a little nudge from an experience or in my recent case, God, to turn those lies into a truth that can set you free. Last week, His nudge was an inner voice pointing out a few lies I’ve been telling myself all my life that have profoundly impacted me and others. My lies are: Love hurts. I am unlovable. Everyone abandons me. I can’t let myself be so vulnerable ever again.
The thing about these internal lies about our character, they usually aren’t really true and we often don’t even know we are telling them. They have become a part of our belief system and likely began a long time ago. We eternalize them because we think it will keep us safe on some level and we continue to breathe life into them. I’ve fed that impostor all my life, which began in childhood and I refused to acknowledge because of a sense of misguided loyalty, guilt and shame. I thought I had put it all to rest, and essentially I have. Most of it. Don’t misunderstand, I blame no one. I love my parents deeply. Both of them have been gone quite some time now and I’ve taken the time to put the craziness in perspective with the help of some incredible counseling, lots of prayer and developing a meditation practice. They did the very best they could from their level of consciousness with the tools life had handed them. I came to not only know that, but appreciate their lives as well. They too had struggles. This has allowed me to forgive and focus on their goodness and the things I loved about them.
My lie apparently has been harder to get rid of. It isn’t a lie. I have been abandoned. From the beginning of life. The insidious evil part of my lie is how I continue to perpetuate the story: I am unlovable, everyone leaves, and I can’t be vulnerable. What a shock to discover, I keep the lie alive. I breathe life into it with every choice I make. That awareness unfolded the first week of my Word of the Year.
As I was vacuuming, and crying about yet another surgery coming up, and bemoaning the fact I would have to walk through it by myself, this internal voice said, you created that reality. You can’t pick people who are irresponsible, emotionally unavailable, dishonest, or incapable of intimacy, and expect them NOT to abandon you. They don’t have the capacity to have a healthy relationship. It’s not their fault, just like it was not your parents fault. The difference between back then and now, you couldn’t choose back then. You can now. If you truly want healthy relationships, pick healthy people.
Of course, my comeback in this conversation was to blubber to God about my one healthy relationship, and how he even abandoned me. God said: He didn’t abandon you, he got very sick and he died. My response was: Well, you could have saved him. God said: His life journey ended. He did what he came here to do, and it has nothing to do with you. He didn’t leave you, he died. I haven’t abandoned you. I never will. Use my love and loyalty as the standard when you are choosing.
It’s always a shock to realize that we really do create our own life and destiny. The quality of my relationships are up to me. I pick them. If I want a caring, reciprocal, intimate relationship with someone, I have to choose people who are capable of one. I also have to decide, for myself, if I am picking those kinds of relationships in order to sabotage any chance of meaningful, reciprocal, intimacy, knowing I just might really be content and satisfied with living alone. Whatever the truth is, no more lies.
I have a feeling this Authenticity gig is going to be a bit more than I initially bargained for. But, I have a feeling the rewards are going to be too!