I wasn't planning on writing this ... I am in the midst of packing for yes, another quickie art retreat trip and I am feeling a tad guilty for all this pleasure heaped upon my faded and chipped plate. But as I ready myself - lists for the Husband made, plans for Cowgirl in place, dog walker for Mr. Moose scheduled - I struggle with the anxiety that travel and new places and faces evokes within me. This gathering will be much smaller than Squam and while I thrive on intimate, I also squirm at the sense there will be no place for me to hide.
Being seen is uncomfortable for me and yet I crave it. For so much of my life I felt unseen and misunderstood although in hindsight I have to wonder if perhaps I let myself be misrepresented? When the name-callers bruised my tender child self did I speak back? Of course not. I gathered all their words and wounds and patched together a crazy coat of false identity. The task of my adult life has been to shift through all the notions I have about myself and toss away those that are no longer true or blatantly false.
My word for 2011 is Shine and I'm not sure how well I've embraced that concept. There still is a layer of scum clouding my perception of myself. But I had a mini-epiphany at Squam while listening to Jen Lee talk about the care and keeping of our creative selves. Hearing Jen tell her about her experiences, I realized that it is impossible for me to truly see another until I can clearly see myself. And part of that process is putting forth for others my true, shiny, vulnerable and uniquely-flawed-and-therefore-beautiful-and-imperfectly-perfect self.
There is a vulnerability in letting others see me; we talked about this in Jen's workshop. It's scary stuff to put one's tender self out there and perhaps be ridiculed or disregarded. But to hold back is to devalue myself. I think the thing about being seen is it hurts more when we refuse to see, honor and befriend ourselves.
So as I pack, I am aware of not packing a mask or a uniform or a disguise - not to be dwelling upon who it is I want others to think I am, but to just be myself. Comfortable, eccentric, sometimes mismatchy, but cherished, honored, resilient and wiser for all my experiences. Still unfolding, still in process and hopefully sitting more comfortably in the mystery of not knowing, but trusting. Trusting myself to be my own best friend.