I got this snippet from a profound but much longer comment made by a character in some television show I was watching. I wasn’t quick enough to get the whole of it, and because I wasn’t home with my own TV that I could go back to the spot and listen to it again, I lost most of it. But it was enough to get me thinking… Are my feelings true? How can I be sure?
When I was young, I thought I loved someone, but now I’m thinking I didn’t, and I fear I don’t anymore. At least, not the way I ought, or the way that is expected of me. Were those feelings that led me to make life-altering decisions wrong? Or are they wrong now, and am I just in the throes of a serious emotional mid-life crisis? How does one know anything about oneself?
Some things about myself I know to be true. For example, I know that I would be mortified if I ever let someone see me fall apart…which is why, in recent years when it has happened, a little piece of me has shriveled up in shame that the pain, the hurt, the anger were so overwhelming that I could not run and hide fast enough. But under normal circumstances, as far as human pain can be seen as “normal”, you will never know that I am hurting.
I know that I have become a person I never knew I was, and I know that really what that means is that I have always been this person, but she had been subdued, beaten down, repressed, by expectations — my own and other people’s — and now she is a demon on each shoulder, egging me on to things that burn me up with shame and regret. And yet, I know I have it in me to end her reign of terror…but I’m afraid when I do, I’ll go back to being the milquetoast I spent most of my life being. And I’m so tired of being ordinary in my own eyes.
I know I have a great deal of potential as a writer. Sometimes the words I write sing at me with the depth and power of their beauty. I recognize it with that impartial part of me that also used to read students’ essays, and still reads clients’ stories, and can tell the bullshit from the butter, the diamonds from the dross. I know that if I set my mind to it, and work my butt off, I can do great things with my “pen”.
I know that I have beauty — notice I did not say I am beautiful, for that is a matter of opinion, and those come a dime a dozen, depending on who you ask. But I have beauty in the way I see others, in the way I am truthful about how I see myself with my heart, in the joy I find in people, in the love I offer freely and with all my soul. Those things have beauty.
Knowing then who I am — a flawed woman bearing beauty in her innermost parts — how can I learn to trust my feelings? How can I begin to see their value as truth in my life? How can I live the second part of my life as a whole and fulfilled human being, in tune with her feelings and living bountifully because of them?
Pilate asked Jesus “What is truth?” And elsewhere in Scripture, it is said, “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” I’d like to know the truth, please…