This is a difficult post to write. But an important one.
The best part of writing, in my opinion, is developing characters. If you've read Seven Little Secrets, you've seen how my love of psychology in the form of emotion and motivation plays out in my protagonists. All of us have formed personalities thanks to biology, genetics, and environment. It's such a delicately intricate structure that it's a wonder humans haven't murdered one another into extinction by now!
I'm about to be very open with you right now. Some of you will understand and feel kinship with me. Others might conjure up unwelcome pity. Still others will think I'm whining and feel I really don't have anything to complain about. But if this post helps anyone at all, it's worth putting up for the world to see.
See, I'm wearing a mask right now. I wear one every day, and some are worn around the edges and falling apart. Others are crisp and new, uncomfortable to wear. A few are my go-to masks when I'm feeling scared. But all of them serve the same purpose...they are disguising my truth. A truth I have carried since I was a child. A truth that shames me, defines me, causes me anguish and anxiety.
My truth: I'm still trying to learn to like myself.
I'm sure this is a journey taken by everyone at some point in his or her life. Maybe you can relate to this right now. Perhaps you're moving through the same masquerade ball, looking for something magical that will change your life forever. Maybe you're an avid reader of self-help books. Or write in a journal with the hope of becoming enlightened. Or watch YouTube videos with titles similar to "How to Find Your Inner Happiness." I believe that these can all be effective short-term. But what about in the long term? How do we deal with rejection, animosity, humiliation while guarding our hearts? Masks are helpful when worn briefly, but we suffocate if we don't take them off.
The one thing that I struggle with while trying to change my truth is understanding what I need to do to be happy with who I am. Not one video, course, book has been able to tell me what it is I need to do to like me. It's the same information: Put up healthy boundaries with people. Don't waste your time with negative souls. Focus on yourself instead of on others. Take long walks and let the universe guide you.
Yes, I see a therapist. Yes, I've taken a long, hard look at my past and how it's affected me. In fact, I write about it in my books. I use that knowledge to help my characters learn to like themselves even as I struggle with it myself. I occasionally fall into depressive states where all I want to do is sleep and I have no motivation to do anything I love...not even read, write, or draw. Forget seeing friends. I'm too anxious. Too unsettled. Life is suffering. Life is defeat. Life is eating too much cake, drinking too much coffee, and looking like I haven't slept in a year.
If you were to see me on the outside, you'd think I had it all together. My kids are well-adjusted. My boyfriend is a sweet, amazing guy. I'm partaking in my dream job. But inside, I'm a quivering mess. What if I screw up? What if I disappoint my family, my friends, my boyfriend, complete strangers, the universe?
That's a lot of responsibility, right?
So here I am, taking off the mask so you can see who I really am. Maybe you can relate. Maybe you can't (although I'm willing to bet you can in one way or another). But I think we can all agree that the only party we need to attend is our own. Not the Masquerade Ball. Not someone else's party. A party celebrating me. You. The only life we have. Our place in the world.
Our truth. My truth. Your truth.
I still have a long ways to go, but my beginning is here and now, beginning with admitting I want desperately to love the person that is me. Part of my focus as I work on making enough money to support my kids and me is to get to a point where I won't have to wear a mask. I will breathe freely. Deeply. Honestly.
And that is where true happiness lives.