Whenever there is a holiday and families get together, there is no shortage of childhood stories and memories being told around the table. Laughter and tears are shared around plates of various casseroles, and you leave with a sense of continuity with your past.
Not this year, and certainly not for me…
You see my mother has a few favorite stories about me as a child that she likes to tell. One of them involves a school Easter egg hunt where I gave all of my treasured eggs away to classmates who were crying over their empty baskets. The other involves a May Day celebration where I refused to be a part of the May Day Court and enter the gymnasium unless the announcer said my full name. I literally stood there, unashamed, until my request had been fulfilled. The last involves an ill-fated Christmas play where I, unhappy with the particular song selection, gave up my role and sat in the auditorium with my Nana (I blame creative differences!).
With all of these familiar stories running through my head, my heart doesn’t really feel a sense of continuity with this Bethany. This little girl was equal parts kind and fierce, unashamed and trusting, honest and bold.
Somewhere along the way, I feel like I have lost this heart.
Am I the only one? The only one who looks back on my pre-scarred self and wonders, not only, how I got here, but more importantly, can I get back? Can my heart go back to boldness? Can it become impenetrable to shame once more? Can I trust my friends today like I did on the playgrounds of old? Will my heart seek the truth like it did when I was a child?
Honestly, I just don’t know. There is such a stark contrast between this open-hearted little girl and the woman who stands before the mirror now. Sometimes its feels like too much has passed and too much has happened. Too many mistakes. Too many flaws. Too many embarrassing interactions. I’m just too far gone. This woman is too much, or maybe she is just not enough.
I feel paralyzed by it all, stuck in the place of in-between…I’m not who I was. I’m not who I want to be. I’m just here.
Here with a heart that feels so lost. Here where shame is very real. Here where fierceness has been buried by insecurity and anxiety.
Here, simply waiting…waiting for something which will lead me back to my true self, to that childlike heart.