The Authentic Life
I remember about 20 years ago becoming so enamored with the word "authentic". It simply fascinated me. I found myself thinking what would it be like to be nothing but real, nothing but true to myself? I recall reading stories about people experiencing a feeling of being a fake in their own lives and thinking it was just a matter of time before others called them on their game. Many of them chose to walk away from their "successful lives" to pursuit something that felt more real, more true. In my own life I felt as if I had created such a great façade that even I didn’t know who was hidden beneath it.
So one day I decided that I wanted to be authentic. I declared it for myself. I closed my eyes and imagined myself pulling off huge layers of “I shoulds”, “I shouldn’ts” and “I can’ts” and tossing them over some imaginary ledge within my mind. I watched them getting smaller and smaller until they disappeared from my mind's eye. I knew that being honest with myself and others would be a challenge to my people-pleasing personality but I thought I was ready.
What I didn’t realize at the time was that everything that was not true to who I am would need to be cleared away. What I didn’t realize was that there was someone listening, someone that had heard what was written on my mind and heart and had the incredible ability to take my thoughts and feelings and make them into a reality. Later it all made sense but at the time it seemed as if my old life was suddenly being taken away from me. I felt as if my decision to be true to myself was hurting people I cared about and the "shoulds", "shouldn'ts" and "can'ts" were making a big comeback. I felt that the guilt and depression was more than I could handle. It made me want to run back to my old life but when I considered that possibility I found myself sapped of all energy. I felt as if the option of my old life had been taken off the table. My old life was no longer an option. My body let me know that Dana doesn't live there anymore.
In retrospect I realize that my essential self not only knew what I desired but it held the blueprint for my authentic life. Once I had made the choice to move forward with that life the first order of business was to dismantle the facade, my artificial self would have to go. Bulldozers arrived in the form of people passionate about their lives, their work, and their relationships, creating a sharp contrast to the lack of passion I felt for my existing life. I didn't know where I was going but I knew where I had been was no longer liveable. Living in between the old and the "yet to come" was scary but it led me to journaling, to reaching out and asking if anyone was there that could hear me and help me out of my confusion and pain. I remember sitting in the silence, my pen resting on the blank page hoping for an answer. After a few moments a comforting voice began giving me one word at a time. I was simply taking dictation not knowing what the author would say next but feeling the tension in my body beginning to ease. I was told that it was all going to be alright and that I was doing really well and that my life was unfolding perfectly. I was told that the lives of the others involved were also on purpose and that there was mutual growth going on here and that just beneath the pain felt by the personality was joy. I doubted that this was true but the internal voice continued to soothe me. I returned often to the page and still do. There is a comforter within us, a knower, a builder, a coordinator. This one holds the blueprint of the truth of who we are and for that one nothing is impossible.
My personality has been through this process several times and I now see it as the dynamic creative force, God as my authentic self, doing its work. I now see that it is going on all the time in all of our lives. I now realize that we all go through many phases of demolition of our artificial selves followed by new construction and expansion and that it is all good and we are all doing really well. I share this with you in case you feel as if everything is falling apart and you don't know what can possibly be built in its place or how you will find the resources to build it. There is one within you that knows and handles all of the details. I am now living my best life and I know that there is much more good to come. I now know and trust that we all have within us the most incredible architect just waiting for us to say yes to our authentic life.
Much love, peace and joy,