“There’s a bluebird in my heart that wants to get out but I’m too tough for him, I say, stay in there, I’m not going to let anybody see you.”
~ Charles Bukowski
Man, am I good at putting on a front. I’m guessing most of you, if you were really to take an honest look at yourself could probably relate but, for the purposes of this article, I’ll take one for the team and completely throw myself under the bus.
Now, when I say putting on a front, I’m talking about the me I let others see vs. the me that’s underneath that exterior, the guy almost no one knows. Whether we’re conscious of it or not, we all have that me. The me that we show others, the one pretending to have their shit together, both externally as well as internally.
In my case, it’s the guy who writes articles for some cool websites and has a book coming out. He’s represented by a cool literary agent and plays kirtan at cool venues. He’s peaceful and compassionate and understanding, and while sure, that guy has a little truth to him, overall, a lot of him farce.
Then there’s the other me, the one I keep hidden away, well he’s scared to death of letting you see who he really is. He doesn’t want you to know he’s terrified of failure. He’s great at hiding the fact that he’s completely insecure in his musical skills, often struggles to feel like he really has anything of worth to say—oh, and a personal favorite—he often gets wrapped up in feeling fat and gross after eating like shit for a day or two.
He usually spends his weekends at home alone—writing, creating music, reading or maybe hitting up a 12-step meeting. He’s okay in his solitude; actually, he enjoys it, truth be told, but yeah, it’s far from the exciting life that others may think he leads.
He’s there when I lay my head down at night and greets me when I rise out of bed in the morning. He’s the image I see reflecting back in the mirror as I brush my teeth and do my best to send loving-kindness too, sometimes successfully, other times not.
Now I don’t want to paint the wrong picture here―he’s not always full of shitty feelings and thoughts, or feeling insecure. He experiences joy and peace and can be happy with things he’s written or happy with the way a kirtan performance went and sometimes, sometimes he likes the physical image reflecting back at him in the mirror.
A part of him knows he helps others and he feels gratitude when he receives emails from people who’ve read his stuff and were impacted by it. Overall though, for whatever reason, he’s terribly scared to let you see who he really is.
It’s through the recognition of this fear however, that allows things to begin to change, but only if we’re interested, of course. I’ve come to understand and experience that as humans, we have our built in survival skills, and I believe that the desire to be accepted is definitely one of them. I also feel however, that when it comes to being socially accepted and fitting others standards in order to be embraced and accepted, that I should know better. I mean really, why am I so scared to let you see who I really am?Photo: Jenn Lui
After sitting with that question for a while, I struggled to come up with some insightful, epiphany-esque realization, and therein I found the answer. It’s not that I really care so much per se, but rather, it’s what I’ve been conditioned to know and have known my whole life. And I know I’m not alone; it’s what the majority of us know and have been conditioned since birth to know from society, friends, family and so forth. Usually, they had our best interests in mind and it’s important to remember they were only teaching us the same things they were taught growing up. The same things that were taught to those who taught them, and on and on and on.
It’s a deeply rooted thing, this desire to be accepted by others, and this fear of being rejected, socially, physically, spiritually and otherwise…and it’s an awful fucking fear.Then there’s the fear of facing ourselves for who we truly are, the good, the bad, and the really, really ugly… and that too, is an awful fucking fear. But until we’re willing to take a good hard look at both of the selves we believe ourselves to be, the person we present to the world, and the person we hide at all costs who’s rooted in fear, well, we’ll stay stuck exactly where we are.
As for me, I’m no longer interested in just getting by. Nor am I interested in finding my sense of acceptance and self-worth from external sources. That’s not to say I won’t still enjoy them, but no longer will I allow them to dictate my sense of well-being.
How humanity lost its connection to the root of our true essence, which is love, may never be known. However, it’s our inherent right to take that love back. I’m not talking about the love and light kind of love you find in many of today’s fluffy spiritual circles, but rather, the love that truly can’t be spoken of or explained (yeah, yeah, I know I’m writing about it right now, but you get what I’m trying to say).
As I sat in meditation this morning before writing this article, I brought my attention to my heart center and mentally thanked God/Universe/Spirit, etc., for being real and for His/Her/Its grace in my life. I mean, I really sat with it and acknowledged that, as I was mentally saying those words, the Universal Consciousness was there with me in real time hearing them.
A funny thing happened right after I made that acknowledgement—my entire body felt as though it was alive in a way that was almost too much to handle. I felt my cells dancing and my heart so full of love it was as if it was going to explode, when all of the sudden, tears began streaming from my eyes, tears of a profound gratitude.
I share that to say this: There are a number of methods available to us which will help facilitate the healing and acceptance of ourselves. Teachers like Pema Chodron, Sharon Salzberg, Dr Joe Dispenza, Thich Nhat Hanh and countless others have written amazing books on doing just that, and when we allow the love that is our true nature to guide us, whether it’s through reading books by those authors, meditating, or whatever other practice we may implore, we cannot fail.
Underground musical icon Henry Rollins once said, “Scar tissue is stronger than regular tissue. Realize the strength, move on.” I’m quite sure we all have our fair share of scar tissue, so with that being said, what better place to start than from there and what better time to start than now, like, right fucking now?
And with that, it’s time we stop… buggin’ out.
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Ed: Brianna Bemel