A Story

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She grew up feeling small and not seen. She learned from the beginning that being wild and curious was dangerous. That it was better to be quiet and obedient. She tried her best to gain her parent's approval. Which meant leaving her heart behind. They were broken too and didn't know how to show her the world was endless. A gift. So she broke like them. Like every other woman before her. She built a strong shell around herself to stay safe. Women are not safe here. Hearts are not safe here. It's better to be quiet. To look pretty. To be refined. She devoted her life to earning approval. That's what her life was about. She was going to figure out how to do it well. And she did. Very well actually. So well she convinced herself that it was honest and good. She made many decisions in this place. Friends. A husband. A business. Habits and a lifestyle. The whole package. It should've worked but it wasn't real and thankfully when something isn't real, hearts ache. Its way of saying this isn't it. 

 

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These were loud feelings she didn't understand. They got in the way so she stuffed them down over and over. Messy loud voices. They got louder. She stuffed them more. Became an expert at ignoring them. Until she couldn't take it anymore and decided to listen. Who are you and what do you want from me? We want you to know the real you. Terrified. Denial. I am the real me. But you're not. You can feel this. Then who is she? I can't trust this. She fought it. Understandably. Gave in the tiniest bit and held her breath. Maybe I will catch me. So she went. She let go. She listened and watched intently. Baby steps. Step by step. Listening. Forgetting. Remembering. Discovering. Uncovering. Forgetting again. And bit by bit she started coming out. Out and then in. Out and then in. A little more each time. She still felt sad. Deeply sad. Shouldn't I be good now? I'm doing the hard work and asking hard questions. Why is it still there? So she picked up every piece and tipped it upside down. Is it here? Is this where the sadness is hiding? She tried every piece. Marriage was one of them. She took the risk to test this one. Jumped all the way out to see how strong it was. If the real heart was involved or if it was simply part of the shell. She did the same for her work. And the same for her friendships. And the same for her identity. People judged her and didn't understand. This hurt, of course. She had a lifetime of learning that what people want from her is more important than what she needs. It's okay that this one is hard. It'll take time. Now she's living in a spare bedroom. She closed her business. Her husband lives in another city. She left her home. And she is trying different versions of life on. Is this good for me? Can I take up space here? What does my heart sound, taste, smell and look like? She doesn't need answers. This isn't a checklist. She's going. She went. She's doing the work. She is befriending the woman she has always been and has never known. 

 

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sadie culberson