My grandmother loves to remind me how extraordinary it was that a four year old girl could quote movies and do all of the voices. She swears my Maleficent was a dead ringer for the real deal.
"You wore my Sleeping Beauty VHS out," she chuckles.
During those years, I lived blissfully sure of myself. My cheeks and life were full of juicy color.
Each day was a gift of possibility: I could make of it ANYTHING I WANTED and make ANYTHING I WANTED. I picked dandelions and made crowns, followed cracks in rocks as if they were treasure maps leading to an ancient treasure left by an ancient pirate, danced when I felt the urge, sang when I felt I should sing, and cried when my insides needed to come outside.
Life wasn't perfect, but I didn't try and take care of it. I was too young to bother with cares and worries. I couldn't control anything or anyone but myself, and I was content with that. I let my parents fight the dragons.
In my teenage years, I began to doubt my parent's ability to take care of my life. They faltered and broke my trust because they're human. That was the worst realization of my entire childhood: my parents were mortal. My core flickered and nearly extinguished, but I brought it to life in time to take it to college with me. When my core -my gut, my heart, my soul -spoke, I listened. When I listened, I would GLOW. There was an inner light that could not be kept hidden. It drew my husband to me.
After marriage, mixed messages were sent -it was like walking the halls of my high school again. I had been SO SURE of what I thought was right, but messages were sent from every angle that made me doubt myself. In time, I began to believe the doubts.
FEAR is the ultimate Core Slayer.
The more fear I felt, the dimmer my core burned. One day I woke up and couldn't access myself at all. I could feel something missing -a hunger -but I had lost touch with myself to the extent that I couldn't even decipher what my own soul was calling for.
Other people's compliments were like the bread crumbs back to the cottage. If they said my shirt looked nice, I wore it more. If they liked my hair styled a certain way, I used that style more. I began doing something I hadn't done since my core flickered in high school: copying other people.
While my core slept, jealousies took over. Pride, fear, and hurt reigned. Danny's addiction hurt me SO DEEPLY but I didn't know what to do about it, so I asked other people.
I felt pressured: pressure to be beautiful, clever, witty, skinny, stylish, fit. I felt pressure in my marriage to be more... everything. As I wrestled in turmoil, my core rested peacefully in the background.
Outer validation took the place of inner confidence, and the only time I glowed was at the compliments of others. Blogging became my best friend, and I blogged incessantly. I thrived as much on comments as I did on milk and bread.
As the addiction got worse, so did my appetite for performance. I wanted to perform better sexually, be a better housewife, and I CRAFTED THE ENTIRE WORLD OVER.
I made sock monkeys and people loved them. I crocheted and people loved it.
People loved what I DID and I felt validation, so I performed more and more and more...
My core still rested peacefully in the background.
I was afraid that if I WERE to look beyond trying to be sexually acceptable (whatever that means), I would lose the ONE thing I based my worth on: outer validation.
I would say that I didn't care what others thought, but I DID, no matter how badly I wanted not to.
I looked at magazines and wanted to believe I was reading lies, but they all felt true to me... photoshop was reality to me. If anyone told me it looked fake, I'd agree... but only because I wanted to believe it. My heart ached and wanted to burst when busty women with clear skin smiled at me at every register and I knew I wasn't enough... and if I wasn't enough sexually, what was the point of life anymore?
The success of my marriage seemed to hinge on my ass, and I hated and believed it which usually meant I stress ate my way home from the grocery store.
Each time my desire to be accepted for my sexuality and looks was validated, it deepened my faulty belief that I was only worth so far as others said so. Each time I felt discarded socially, I blamed it on my lack of sexual acceptability. And the belief pattern ran deep, deep, deep... making my cattle trail to the sewer pond.
Breaking that cattle trail has taken YEARS. There have been times I've gotten off and wandered back on without realizing it.
Working outside of my home has been a real testing and training ground, and I've had to face this faulty belief A LOT. I've had to call my sponsor and give voice to it, tell her I spent an afternoon wondering IF I was enough because the men that come into the shop decide I should be so.
A breakthrough is happening in my life right now.
Those magazine covers have lost their luster, and I beamed with glee when my 7 year old daughter pointed to cosmo last week and shouted, "LIES! Legs aren't that skinny really!"
Having Danny out of the house has really opened up a new freedom for my new life. I shave WHAT I want to WHEN I want to IF I want to. I dress how I want, without wondering if I'll be pretty enough to be noticed and loved. I don't work out unless I feel like it needs to happen. I do housework when I feel it needs to be done, not because I'm afraid that Danny will think I'm lazy and unproductive if I don't.
Life is beginning.
There is a world of LOVE flourishing under the upper-crust of fear.
And as I uncover my core and realize and embrace my individuality -I am breathing life into my own Sleeping Beauty. My sleeping core has been dormant, and God is giving me true Christ-like love.
True love is given to me from God, and it is evident in the quiet, still moments that surround me daily.
The color is coming back in my cheeks.
I can see deeply now -I finally have access to the world where women know their true worth and can access their own truth and stand firm in it.
Knowing my worth means I can perceive when others know my worth as well -when I'm seen as opposed to judged, regarded or ignored.
I don't feel like I need to fight for Danny's attention, love, or approval. What a stark difference to the life I was living two years ago.
I do feel like being honest when I feel disconnected -when I don't feel seen. I ask for more space when I need it, and I stand up on my own two feet and move forward with surety.
Today I need to ask God about some stuff and then I'll ask myself about some stuff.
After that, I'll move forward.
I've been sleeping for too long. Much too long. Time to join those who are living full and juicy lives full of children and blankets and bare feet and s'mores around a fire fueled by cosmo magazines.
True love is the greatest spell-breaker.
Today I can hand life back over to God -just as I used to trust my parents with my life when I was running amok on the dusty ranch trails in pink footed PJs with a crochet tail pinned to the back (I was the pink panther, thankyouverymuch).
Today I can be whoever I want to be and trust God with the dragons. For though coming to grips with my parents' mortality was one of the harshest experiences of my life, so is uncovering God's immortality -His unfaltering and unfailing loyalty -one of the most enlightening experiences of my life. My hope is as great as my loss.
The fairy tale that I once latched onto as a small child has proven to be a sort of type and shadow for the life I'd yet to lead. Seeing it play out in front of my own eyes is surreal and comfortably familiar all at the same zany time.
I know now how precious my core is, how brave it is to trust God with the evil surrounding me, and how an entire nation rejoices when a woman realizes herself again.
True love is the greatest force on earth... imagine my surprise finding it within.