Only let them see what they want to see

>> Thursday, October 13, 2005

I learned very early in life that honesty was not the best policy--at least where my deepest thoughts, questions, and emotions were concerned. I learned early that if I was honest about how I really felt, what I really thought, and my questions about life, that I was met with rejection and emotional abandonment. So I learned to be a pleaser. I learned how to make my mother and father smile and how to make them proud of their little girl, all the while tamping down my questions, feelings, and emotions to the point that by the time I was an adult I was a ticking time bomb, ready to explode. My aunt warned my father that one day at least one of us, (my brother, sister, or I), was going to rebel due to the stifling, restrictive, controlling, and dictatorial atmosphere in our home. She was right.

I mastered the art of playing emotional and mental hide-and-seek by the time I was five years old and learned very quickly what I could and couldn't share with my parents. I pretended to be the sweet, compliant, and agreeable child that they wanted me to be because I knew that only then did I gain the love and acceptance from them that I so desperately needed. So when my devoutly Christian parents would talk to me of God's unconditional love, I really had no foundations for understanding what that meant. Unconditional love was not liberally demonstrated in our home so I didn't have much of an example, only words. Like a pet parrot, I would listen to their words and ideas and I quickly learned how to regurgitate those words and ideas back to them. That always got positive results. But whenever I had an original thought, idea, or question that didn't fit into their black-and-white-Pleasantville world, I was scolded and put down as if I were a terrible person to even entertain such ideas or thoughts.

I grew up hearing my mother sing, "Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so", and I always wanted to ask her what made the Bible so special? Why was it better or more divine than for instance, the Koran? How did she KNOW that the Bible was God's word? Did God tell her that personally? Or was that something that she was taught growing up and just accepted as the truth because everyone told her it was the truth? And what about the things in our lives--thoughts, feelings, ideas, that didn't agree with the Bible? Where did they come from? What about, for instance, the very real sense that I had all through my life that I had been here on this planet before--that I had lived in a different time and place? What about the pictures that I had in my head since I was a small child of events, people, and places in the past, some so vivid and detailed that they seemed that they had taken place yesterday?

I didn't know how to define what I experienced or what name to give it. I thought of reincarnation as something that only Hindus and Buddhists believed. I never took it seriously because it wasn't something that was a part of the belief system in which I was raised. And because I didn't feel safe to ask questions, I tamped these very real experiences down inside of me along with my unexpressed emotions, thoughts, and questions. When my parents would praise me for being such a good girl, I would think to myself, "But I'm NOT good! I'm very bad! If you only KNEW what I really think, and how I REALLY feel, you wouldn't love me!"

"Only let them see what they want to see" was my life's motto, "for only then will you be acceptable to them." So I grew up believing that if I was going to find love, acceptance, and happiness, that I had to be whatever it was that people wanted me to be. I had to make everyone else happy, even if it meant sacrificing my own desires, my own happiness, even if it meant adhering to and confessing to a religion, a belief system, and way of life that grew increasingly more confining and uncomfortable for me. And deep down inside of me I cried out for release! I knew that there was more...that there was someone. There was someone out there searching for me as fervently as I was searching for them. In the midst of a crisis point in my life, during my junior year in college, I ran out into an empty field which was right next door to my on-campus apartment, and threw my arms up towards the sky. I cried out, "Where are you? Why can't I find you? I know you're out there! Please find me!", and I fell into a bawling heap on the ground. After about half-an-hour I walked back to my apartment, and one of my roommates, who was a piano major, was sitting on the couch listening to the Mozart Piano Concerto No. 20, in D minor on the stereo. She was going to play it for a competition. I sat by her on the couch and the tears returned. When she asked me why I was crying, I told her that I had this overwhelming sense of loss that I couldn't explain as if there was someone out there who I had to find, and who, in turn, was trying to find me. She hugged me and let me cry.

I couldn't tell her that the someone was Mozart.

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