Split Personality

I grew up learning how to hide. I grew up hearing stories about how members of the Unification Church, the faith I was born into and raised in, were kidnapped by their families and forced to undergo abusive deprogramming tactics. I heard about how members were put in jail for prosthelytizing their faith. On a personal level, my family was asked to leave our neighborhood Christian church because we "weren't really Christians". The word "cult", would cut me open if I heard it on tv or in passing conversation, leaving me feeling exposed and ashamed.

These stories were worn like a badge of honor by most of the people who told them. As if these kinds of experiences were proof that you were doing something good. God's messengers are always misunderstood.

But as a child, I didn't want to be a prophet. I wanted to have friends. I wanted to belong. Since I grew up in a town with no other "church families" around, there was no place for that "church self" to belong in school or in my community. So I tucked that part of myself away, and only let it come out every other Sunday when we would drive an hour and a half to church, or once a year at summer camp. But that left me with the burden of then tucking away my "school" personality. They were both me. Neither was me. So in trying to "belong" I denied myself and others, the chance to really and truly know me. I don't blame myself. I simply think I learned to cope with a complex situation the best way I knew how at the time.

Now, as an adult, as a mom, I still struggle with this idea of identity and the theme of duality that seems to manifest in different ways, but with the same old feelings. There was a point in my early adult hood when things came to a tipping point, where I could no longer stand to live like a secret agent, and worked hard to stitch myself back together. I feel that same pressure now, mostly revolving around my creative life. Like things are filling up, getting ready to spill over. I think it will be a relief. But as it was before, I know it also comes with growing pains.

On we go. Wherever I go, there I am, and other such platitudes.

"Be yourself" seems like good advice, but if "yourself" is constantly changing, growing, hopefully learning, we may have to take a pause every once in awhile to figure out who exactly, that is.

30 going on 13

Last week I did something I've been talking about for years. A regular childhood milestone smack dab in the middle of adulthood.

I got my ears pierced!

I even got to hug the Clair Bear...not cause I was nervous or anything...I just wanted the full experience! ::cough cough:::

My parents never did the ear piercing thing for me, they wanted me to wait until I was old enough to decide for myself, which I completely appreciate. I remember using those little stickers and magnetic ones when I was really young, but it was just for play, and it was really more trouble than it was worth. I never felt a strong desire to have real earrings, even when my friends started to get pierced, at least not enough to actually go through with it. I never felt deprived or left out.

For one thing, I was always squeamish with needles (having two kids cured me of that!), another is that in the church community I grew up in it was somewhat of a taboo, and there were lots of other girls who didn't have their ears pierced, or dye their hair, or otherwise dramatically alter their physical appearance. The last, but biggest reason I never got my ears pierced, though, was that by the time I was old enough to decide for myself, I was in those awkward pre-teen years, and terribly self-conscious about my ears! I thought they were way too big and I hated how they stuck out. I always tried to wear my hair down to hide them. When I had to wear a baseball cap on my softball team, I would tuck them into the cap rather then let them stick out. Anything that would draw more attention to my ears was a big NO. I wore the occasional clip-on, mostly when I was performing on stage or dressed up for an event, but I didn't even wear earrings at my wedding.

I remember admitting my ear phobia to my husband before we were married, and he was shocked, he said, "I love your ears, they're my favorite feature!"

Being able to see myself through his eyes, was a huge turning point, and in the years since I have mostly shed those insecurities. It's strange how we see ourselves, and how different it can be from what others actually see.

I went to Clair's for my piercing with one of my good friends that I've known since before high school, and confided to her this little detail. She too thought I was crazy, "I would have never thought that about you!" Looking in the mirror now, or these pictures, I have to agree. I love my new bling! and I love being comfortable in my skin, loving the parts of myself that I didn't always appreciate.

I made up my mind to get my ears pierced for my 30th birthday (it happened about 8 months later because I'm a procrastinator). It seemed like a fitting way to usher in a new decade of my life, and to not just have a cultural experience that I missed out on in childhood, but to mark my journey of self acceptance and love.

Hello beautiful....oh wait, that's me!

We all have things about ourselves we wish we could change, but sometimes it's because our own viewpoint is just too dark and blurry. Try to see yourself through a loved one's eyes, and the picture will suddenly be much brighter.