I’ve lived my whole life without ever truly meeting myself.
I listened to everyone else but myself, and at the end of the day I was completely lost, looking to every external person and external thing for the answers.
Sure I came off as the happy go lucky artist, the free spirit, the I don’t give a f*** cool girl, but my inner child, the real me had enough. She was dying, fading further and further away into the abyss. I couldn’t hear her at all anymore.
I had poisoned my mind and body to the point of stagnation and numbness, to the point of darkness and depression—all with a big fake smile plastered on my face. I said yes, when she screamed no. I believed if I pleased everyone else, I would finally have time to listen to her.
But I never did. I’d never sat down with her and asked her the things she longed to say. The things she longed to do in her life.
There was always someone else to please.
If I distracted myself, I wouldn’t have to listen to the hard truth of what she had to say. Instead, I tormented her for decades, never letting her speak up without devaluing everything she had to say, or drowning her out with substances and distractions.
I realized that the deep feeling of emptiness in my gut was because she had finally disappeared. She had given up and left me to face this confused, egocentric monster I had created. It wasn’t until I reached the point of sabotaging my marriage, my family and so called career that I realized how much of a mess I had been making of my life.
I realized how badly I needed her back in my life, how I would give anything to hear her whispers of pleading again.
I was an alcoholic, a part time waitress, a full time pot smoker and full time self delusion artist.
I panicked. I had no idea who was looking back at me in the mirror anymore. Desperate to find her, I blamed everyone else for the position I was in. My husband, my childhood and my job. It was always the people I was around, or the places I lived and worked that were the problem. Never me.
It was in these moments that I realized I had to start taking responsibility for my life.
I begin cleaning up the messes I had made. It was time to start again and do what I should have done in the first place. It was time to remove the mask I had created.
I thought it would be simple, until I dug my fingers deep into the edges and pulled at the mask, horrified when it wouldn’t come off. It was so deeply rooted into my face, it had become a part of me. My ego monster screamed hard in rebellion at the pain, and she tore everything she had built down to the ground, lashing out at everyone around her like a caged animal. It scared me at how vicious and cynical I had let myself become. And it felt so good to be so horrible that it terrified me.
Tearing the mask off was the most painful experience I have ever had, and one I continue to have every single day. Piece by piece it comes off, but it takes hard work and dedication to build up the strength and endurance to keep doing it. So easily the mask seems to creep back onto my face every night while I sleep, before I’m awake the next morning, ripping it off once again.
But I am so grateful for that pain because it teaches and helps me become a stronger and better person to myself and to others. Finding purpose in what you do with your life seems simple, but simple isn’t always easy.
I apologized to my loved ones. I took responsibility even when I didn’t want to. Even when I heard my ego scream it wasn’t my fault, I listened and knew in my heart what was right. I quit every single crutch I had, including my job.
And now I am at the start. Rebuilding my life’s foundation from the bottom, one brick at a time. It is such a humbling experience to start again with no set skills as an adult. It isn’t easy living your passions and not settling on external things to be comfortable. To do the things you don’t feel like doing because you know it’s worth it, when all you want to do is binge watch Netflix. It is necessary for your growth, and that pain is a gift.
I heard a speaker say “endure life’s pain and you will live an easy life, endure life’s easiness and you will live a painful life.”
That is the ultimate truth.
I have dedicated every ounce of my being to find her again and I beg her everyday to come back to me. I promise I’ll listen I say, I promise we will do it your way from now on.
As I detox my mind from lies and ego, my body from unhealthy substances and processed foods, and give myself love through yoga, expression and meditation, she has slowly come back to me. The emptiness I felt for so long slowly fills up each day I dedicate to her. Sometimes I feel so full it overflows to those around me which is what brings me the most joy and has been my purpose all along.
She came back to teach me the beauty of pain so I can help others through their pain. She has much to say and I tell her to shout it from the rooftops, scream it out so all can hear.
Be free, be weird but most importantly, be authentic to who you truly are. The world is on your side. The universe transpires for you when you put aside your ego and put yourself into motion. What’s inside you is what your reality will become. So nourish yourself inside and out, even when taking out the trash sucks big time.
It is worth it. No one will ever have the answers you seek—they can only be found by listening to yourself. Through darkness there is always a light to guide your way. And that light is the one that’s been inside of you all along. You are the one who needs to ignite it. Light your fire and set yourself free.
Take off the mask.
This article is dedicated to my husband Matty Castano.
Author: Kristine Castano
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Author’s Own