Saturday, 2 October 2010
How Can I ‘Be Myself’ If I Don’t Know Who That Is?
“In every block of marble I see a statue as plain as though it stood before me, shaped and perfect in attitude and action. I have only to hew away the rough walls that imprison the lovely apparition to reveal it to the other eyes as mine see it.” Michelangelo
It’s completely fascinating to me to consider how Michelangelo created. The sculptor imagined the finished work before he lifted the chisel to the stone. He didn’t see the marble block; he saw the image underneath. He recognized what it was, and then simply removed what it was not.
I’m no Michelangelo, but I am creating a masterpiece—or rather, revealing one. My childhood sexual abuse encased me in a false identity and covered me in a shroud of lies. My false self wasn’t stone, but it imprisoned me just the same. My healing process is the chiseling away at the falsehoods to free my true self.
The trouble is that I’ve never had the clarity of Michelangelo. The only Christina I’ve ever known was the one who adapted to the abuse. The lies entrapped me for so long that I felt I didn’t exist apart from them. How could I have a vision for someone I’ve never seen? That was my question when I began my healing. I didn’t know the answer but I was determined to rescue my true image just as the great artist rescued his beauties from the stone.
The lies were layered. First, the abuse told me lies about myself and then I told other lies about myself to cover up the first lies. The lies from the abuse told me I was only good for sex, that I was somehow flawed as a person, too dirty and used for someone to love me. I wasn’t aware that it was the abuse that told me that. I thought I was abused because those things were already true. I thought I was inherently worthless so I deserved to be passed around.
I reacted to those lies by trying to ‘prove’ they weren’t true. I knew they were—they were true to me—but I was hoping people would be fooled by my facade. One of my false selves was the “hard worker”. I projected an image of responsibility, maturity, and dependability. It was my uniform that informed people that they needed to keep me around because I was useful. The more shame I felt and the more I thought my masks were ‘slipping’, the more I asserted them. They became hardened around me. I didn’t know where they stopped and I began.
As I recognized that I was misinformed about my value, I shed the lies. The truth is that I am valuable because I exist. My value isn’t affected by what happened to me. I didn’t do those things; they were done to me and it was not a reflection on me. It wasn’t because I was bad. It was because my abusers were bad. I don’t have anything to conceal anymore because I’m wonderfully made.
I thought I needed to perceive who I was supposed to be before I could make myself into that image. The truth is that I don’t need to see or ‘make’ myself into anything. I am who I am. I was so used to contorting myself into certain roles that I thought I would ‘achieve’ the real me the same way. All I’ve really needed to do is remove the lies. Then the truth is revealed.
The real me is emerging. I’m learning more about myself every day and the sense of wonder and excitement and expectation fill me. The real me is coming out without even really thinking about it. It’s natural and unrehearsed. It’s effortless. As I heal and the masks fall off, the genuine Christina is revealed. She’s been there all along.
It’s ironic that I thought I’d prove my value by covering myself up, yet a work of art can only be appreciated when it can be seen. The healing process is referred to as recovery, but I’ve been covered up long enough and I don’t want to be re-covered. Maybe it’s more accurate to call this my uncovery—the grand unveiling of this masterpiece. BEAUTIFUL!