Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Watch Me Soar
Firstly, I want to share with you a story that I recently read in a book called Awareness by Tony De Mello:
"A man found an eagle's egg and put it in a nest of a barnyard hen. The eaglet hatched with the brood of chicks and grew up with them. All his life the eagle did what the barnyard chicks did, thinking he was a barnyard chicken. He scratched the earth for worms and insects. He clucked and cackled. And he would thrash his wings and fly a few feet into the air.
Years passed and the eagle grew very old. One day he saw a magnificent bird above him in the cloudless sky. It glided in graceful majesty among the powerful wind currents, with scarcely a beat of its strong golden wings.
The old eagle looked up in awe. "Who's that?" he asked. "That's the eagle, the king of the birds," said his neighbor. "He belongs to the sky. We belong to the earth we're chickens."
So the eagle lived and died a chicken, for that's what he thought he was."
Ok, the book was all right. I took some ideas from it and left some ideas from it. But this story and what Tony De Mello talks about is so true.
We grow up being taught beliefs and being told who and what we are by our parents, teachers and others around us. Your beliefs are those thoughts caught up in that ceaseless chatter inside your head. But, some of the beliefs we've been told are simply not true. The challenge is changing these beliefs and/or letting go of them.
And the people that have put these beliefs upon you, they are not at fault. They are simply passing on what has been instilled in them as well. It is a cycle of passing on false beliefs.
People that are close to me know that my dad did not always treat me very well. He was verbally and emotionally abusive and sometimes physically abusive as well. When my mother passed away, I lost the person who protected me from him.
This is not to say that my father is a horrible man or a bad person. He did the best he could at the time and I know he loves us.
Around the age of 11, I began to be accused constantly of being on drugs. At that age, I didn't even know what "drugs" were and was more into riding my bike with my friends. At that point, I hadn't even been introduced to drugs. (but that was soon to follow!) It was frustrating as a child to try and tell him otherwise. I didn't understand where his paranoia was coming from.
My father also told me about birth control and his desire to put me on it when I was 11 years old--far too young to need to know about such things. What about respect for yourself, dignity and integrity?
During the rest of my teen years and into my early 20s, I was constantly told that I was a "slut", a "looser" and that I would be on "welfare" for the rest of my life. When you tell a child such things over and over, they believe it. Afterall, we grow up thinking that our parents are perfect and that they know best, right? I was the eagle thinking I was a chicken.
I remember in grade school, the boys thought I was a slut as well. There was no reason behind their beliefs. I hadn't even kissed a boy then and was, in fact, quite terrified at the thought of kissing any boy.
I will always remember a male friend of mine telling me about the time he asked a guy what I was like in grade school and the boy responded that I was a slut or some other derogatory name. I will always remember that because it hurt my feelings. (I will talk about my need to let things go and not take things personally in my next post.) Not one of those grade school boys calling me a slut had ever laid a hand on me or vice versa.
In my 20s, I did come to the realization that my father was wrong in his treatment of me. It was so wrong. But again, he did the best he could at the time. The love of his life had died and he was scared shitless to be stuck trying to raise two children. He fucked up just like we've all done a few times at the very least. Things are much better between us now.
The point of my telling you this is not to make my father look bad. It's simply my way of proclaiming to myself that what he said was not true. I don't need to spend the rest of my life trying to prove that he was wrong. His beliefs don't have to be mine. I should not be concerned about appearing as a "failure" in his eyes or anyone else's. I am the only person to whom I need to be accountable.
I am not a bad person or a "loser". This is a false belief that was instilled in me, and I need to let go of it, but re-training your brain and letting go of things is quite the task.
I am still a work in progress, and I do hope to be a work in progress for the rest of my life.