Authentically Me

If you’ve been following me for a while, you may have read the series on my first marriage. In that, I talked about how I shoved memories of that experience into a place in my mind and boarded it up. Over the years, some of those memories have slipped out from under the barricaded door and have seemed to pull me back into that place in time. This scenario has gone on for years, even decades. Then BOOM!! Feelings and emotions from those memories came out crashing, all at once. This experience led me to get out words of what happened during that spousal relationship, called marriage.

Earlier this year this played out again with me hitting a proverbial brick wall. I found that this wall was retaining things I have repressed for 58 years. Using the coping mechanisms that life has given me, I quietly (and in some ways not so quietly) had a mental breakdown. A flood of primal emotions washed over me and I had no way to contain or control them. I could no longer keep up the barricade. The flood created a wave that I was compelled to ride or lose my sanity.

I ended up in a counselor’s office with the sound of artificial rainsong and the calming mist of essential oils from a diffuser. Across from me sat what I didn’t expect. A guy young enough to be my child. My first impression was “How is this kid going to relate to a 57-year-old woman?” I decided to give him a shot and see what happens. He had a degree and training after all. Maybe he could at least supply me with some tools that would enable me to cobble myself back together.

It’s a funny thing when you’re suddenly sitting across from a licensed counselor. You wonder how you ended up in this place that you had no idea you were going. After the preliminary introductions and getting comfortable, he asked me “Why are you here Anna?” Without hesitation and without any thought, I said “I’m a fake. I want to be the real me.”

He asked me what I meant by “fake and real me.” In an avalanche, it tumbled out of me. “I feel like I’m wearing masks with just about everyone I know. I say what people want to hear.  I want to truly and authentically be me. I want to be me without worrying about what someone else thinks.”

I added, “I have a tendency to agree with whoever I’m with to simply avoid conflict.” I’ve been truer to myself as I’ve gotten older; nevertheless, there is a lot of resentment and anger pushed down inside of me from wearing the the mask that I present to the world.

The reality is, there are lots of rooms in my mind that have experiences stashed away with the doors locked tightly. Some of them have been there so long that I really have no idea what is behind the door. Sometimes the feelings associated with those boarded up rooms make themselves known in the form of anger, sadness, or feelings of inferiority. This isn’t unique to me. Everyone I know has issues that relate to trauma or issues from their past. Most likely, multiple things in their past. Things from birth right up until this very moment in time.

I think we all wear masks from time to time. I’m not saying that I need to speak my mind in all situations. Sometimes silence truly is golden. The reality is that there are times that I am not true to myself. Frankly, I’m not sure that I’ve ever felt safe enough to be my true self. But at this point, I’ve promised myself that I will be the real me. And it is hard.

No one is completely free of baggage. We’ve all experienced trauma and disappointments. How have you coped? Do you struggle with being the authentic you? Do you act or react? I’d like to hear from you. Comment below or email me.

Brene Brown Quote

4 thoughts on “Authentically Me

  1. Hi Anna! Always good to hear from you. I think you are right. I think we all oftentimes ware masks of protection. I think that is different from masks of hypocrisy. I too am much more genuine than I was when I was younger. It feels so much more comfortable. God knows the real me so who am I trying to fool anyway.

    Dorthie knows me genuinely and choices to love me. What more could one hope or ask for.

    So why do we still at times and with some people put on a front? A question for the ages.

    I try to absorb, and respond to things and events as opposed to being fly off the hinge reactionary. I find it is more effective, productive and requires less asking for forgiveness. But I fail often I’m sure. My mother in law on the other hand tends to be the opposite. That can be unpleasant and unhealthy. Thankfully Dorthie is like her mother in that regard.

    Thank you, -Mitch Thompson

    Sent from my iPhone

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    1. Fortunately my partner also knows the “real” me and I can totally be myself and let my guard down with Doug. I have found that the anger I am finding is a result of constantly and consistently putting other’s wants and desires before my own. Exploring it with a professional has been helpful. But it is still a struggle. So I’m trying to learn to just slow down and think about what I’m doing or saying so I can live with as few regrets going forward as possible.

      Thanks for commenting!! I appreciate it so much!!

  2. Anna,
    It has been so interesting to me through the time I have known you how much we are either in the same season but experiencing different things or come up with the same idea and then the other says exactly what the other was thinking in a box. We are aligned as you said. I have had so much time to reflect in the last month after quitting my corporate job and with 2 degrees and as I’m cleaning up the kitchen during the day, and making sure things are tidy- I have thought to myself “how did I end up here? It isn’t that I’m unhappy- I am happy and very grateful for the choice I made. I just feel that there’s more for me. I have a legacy I’m building and my mentor left me a legacy to continue to build since she passed. And to be honest- I think I even have a lot of grief stored up from her passing because I never really took the time I needed for myself to process her death. And to make sure everyone is clear here that may read this- I am not saying that being a housewife is a bad thing; I just never really thought it would be my thing. I am appreciating this time and because it’s new I realize that I too wore a mask. A mask to be whatever “thing” my former bosses wanted me to be. It was a constant tug of war- and I lost often. I was shushed 🤫 whenever I woke speak out- and when I just couldn’t recognize myself anymore I decided enough was enough and I had to plan out how to quit my corporate job. I am still figuring out everything that comes next. I love your blog and I look forward to the next one! Thank you for asking for comments of others experiences- just typing this was helpful for me.

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About Anna Hibbard

I am a "mature" woman, with a lifetime of opinions and memories. Sometimes they pop into my mind on my hour commute either to or from work. So I use this blog as a way to express myself, my opinions, and my memories.