“I am free, and always have been; free to accept my own reality, free to trust my perceptions, free to believe what makes me feel sane even if others call me crazy, free to disagree even if it means great loss, free to seek the way home until I find it.”
~Martha Beck, “Leaving the Saints”
When you set out to seek wisdom, you find a lot of crap. But occasionally I read something that really hits the mark with me; inevitably it’s both an unanticipated revelation and a “d’oh!” moment. Why hadn’t I realized something so patently obvious?
One morning last week, the above quote landed in my in-box. It’s possible that my mouth dropped open as it sank in. You mean I have a choice?!?
My response: Well of course you do, you nimrod. (Proving that I’m perfectly capable of judging myself – I don’t need other people to do it.)
We are judged all the time: by family, co-workers, bosses, lovers, friends, people we’ve never even met. Most of us return the favor on a daily basis. I have tried to give it up, but judgment is a hard habit to break, probably because it’s often employed as a defensive strategy. And the people who don’t seem to care how others seem them? I’ve judged them, too, as arrogant, blind or just plain foolish. But I may have been wrong.
I have spent practically my entire life letting other people – and their opinions and expectations of me, real or projected – define who I am and what I believe about myself. So the sudden realization that I can choose to see myself however I want to was incredibly, well, freeing. Even on days when I choose to believe that it’s other people, not me, who are off their rockers, I still feel a sort of pang – guilt, or envy, or maybe panic – that I’m a woman apart, and that to be unaccepted by others is to be unworthy.
Well, horse puckey.
Besides trying to save enough money to retire someday, my target destination on the current leg of my journey has been to a place where I can love myself, flaws and all. To take criticism and not take it to heart; to be imperfect and still be perfectly OK; to accept myself according to who I am, not what I do – and certainly not by someone else’s standards – this is my quest. I’m absolutely positive that I’m not the only one who struggles with this.
To quote someone else, every day is a winding road. But each day I am, indeed, getting a little bit closer to feeling fine.