This was weird. This was unfamiliar territory. It didn’t even feel natural. For the first time in my life, I was by myself. I was 34 years old and I had never really lived on my own. I wasn't married anymore. I wasn’t even in an environment surrounded by friends. For the first time in my entire life, I was living on my own.
Being divorced forced me to take the time to be OK with me. It was during this time that I decided I had to get real comfortable with being by myself. I was forced into a moment of having to take a good look at what it meant to be me. I was raised to wear my mask.
I was raised in a time that Paul Laurence Dunbar’s poem “We Wear the Mask,” was just a natural part of what you had to do growing up. I was taught that you could not reveal who you really were in society. In his poem he writes:
We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,—
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.
Why should the world be over-wise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while
We wear the mask.
We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
To thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,
We wear the mask!
I had worn my mask for so long that I didn't know that the person underneath of it was an 8-year-old little girl that was frightened and broken. I was now free to redefine my very existence. I was finally free to be me. I had to learn to love every aspect of who I am, even down to the scar on my nose. I decided I would start by telling me “I love you.” It seemed so simple, but to actually look at myself in the mirror and say “I love you” dredged up unknown emotions from the depths of my soul. It took two years for me to stop crying after staring in the mirror.
When you decide to become a better version of yourself it will be difficult. Be patient with yourself. It's OK if it takes you longer than you anticipated, because it will. It's OK if you are walking through moments where you can't even visualize what the next step is going to be. It's OK. You don't have to do it alone. I'm here to help you navigate the hurdles that life is throwing at you. I remember the days I was trying to grow personally, emotionally, spiritually, and otherwise. My goal is to help you get to your next level. I've always enjoyed helping and encouraging people to do their best. I encourage you to challenge the situations in your life that make you feel less than you were designed to be (Psalm 139:14).