Gathering my selves

Gathering my selves |
There’s a part of me that still so desperately wants to fit in. Fit in with everyone else’s expectations. What I should wear. What I should think. What I should be doing “at my age”. I have to be very gentle with this part of me for she’s borne out of the smallest most vulnerable part of my self. The part that was squashed into a corner and told not to make a fuss. The part that believes with every cell of her being that she will only be loved if she is deemed acceptable. If she plays the game the others play, the one where she doesn’t know the rules and screws up every which way she turns — if she can master that game then everything will work out. If she wears the right shoes, if she was more outgoing, if she could just be like everyone else, she wouldn’t feel so achingly different. . .

And yet.

There’s this other part of me that covers herself in tattoos, wears tight jeans and all the lipstick and doesn’t give a fuck what anyone else thinks. Who would rather die a slow painful death than be thought to be like everyone else. Who strives to be original in all she does — the worst accusation you could ever level at this part of me is copycat. She’ll rip it up and start again if it starts to smell like someone else’s cooking. She’s the big sister going first to break new ground. She’s the pot-smoking, trip-taking, henna-haired part of me that always has something to say. That rarely shuts up. . .

And yet.

Neither of these parts run the show these days. They each had a turn back when I first became them, back when I needed to be those selves. Now they’re integrated into the larger whole of who I am and every day I dance with the many selves of my past, wondering about the selves of my future. The longer we live the more selves we collect, yet at the very core there’s a silky thread connecting them all. Looking back I can see hints of Her in all my previous iterations, and can still recall those rare moments when I side-stepped the scared girl, the needy lover, the devastated woman, and remembered who I was. Infinite, endless, encased in flesh and blood. I’d love to live every day in that remembering, but bills and deadlines and insecurites budge in, tripping me up until the next time I create enough space to touch the thread again.

I’m so ready for more space.

17 responses
  1. phoebe reid

    Perfectly said! Love this post ?

  2. phoebe reid

    ps – not at all sure where that question mark came from! :)

  3. Linda Cordero

    This is so beautiful Susannah! These beautiful parts of yourself are like your wonderful children and you are their mother who gets to take care of them, nourish them, teach them to honor and love themselves for who they are/were and what they bring and have brought to your life…to let them know that they are safe with you and that you love each and every one of them and always will. And yes, you are the mother in charge these days…but isn’t it nice to look back and own all of our former selves knowing that they contributed to the woman you are today and in many respects the woman in your future self. Oh the places you’ll go! ?

  4. Linda Cordero

    P.S. That question mark was a heart when I posted it. I don’t think that unicodes work well in this format. LOL

  5. Henrietta

    Yup, those selves are all there, beautifully evoked in your post and we are so much richer for them. The intricate woven tapestry of our vulnerable, needy, scared, badass, fuck everyone, beautiful selves. All welcome, all necessary to who we are today…

  6. Bella

    loving every part of who you are, sweet friend.

  7. Barbara N

    Yet again, Susannah, you’ve nailed it! Thank you so much for reminding me who I am.

  8. michelle gd

    always a bit of a dance, yes?
    such a lovely thought to think about that thread connecting our pieces…and to know that we have the power to rethread and restitch as necessary.

  9. Kamini

    Thank you, touches me somewhere deep where that thread connects us all x

  10. Candace

    Oh, Susannah… This so perfectly sums up how I’ve been feeling of late. I have this deeply-seeded desire to be myself and live a life that is true to me. That embraces both my need for balance and peace, as well as a need for rebellion on some level. (Do we ever really completely let go of our teenage selves, I wonder…) But you can’t completely escape the expectations of others, whether they mean to project them or not. Maybe it’s me projecting my own expectations onto myself through the lens of someone else.

    I’ve been dating again, and remembering why I both love and loathe it. No matter what, no matter how unshakable my confidence is at the onset, I inevitably feel like I should be better, be more. Be accepted.

    It’s a fine line of a tightrope that I feel like I’m walking. I just have to trust that there is some sort of learning or healing that will come from it all.

  11. Vicki

    Wow, Susannah…you have captured the true essence of “evolving”. And as you know, there is much, much more to the “locality” of your everyday existence. You have already realized this realm of existence is not all there is to this life. Close your eyes…take a deep breath…you are right where you belong. And you are beautiful and free. Aloha

  12. Vicki

    Oh Candace,
    Don’t worry about others expectations, and don’t be so hard on yourself with doubt. Take a deep breath, let it out and JUST BE! Don’t try to BE THIS or BE THAT…stop thinking about it…JUST BE! That is all that is required of any of us. And NOW is the only moment that we really have in order to do so! Much Aloha coming at ya!

  13. Tamisiha

    Susannah – you’ve so beautifully captured here what I believe is central to how we show up in the world in the present – by not retreating into the past, but seeing and understanding the metaphor that lives consistently through us over time (that “thread”) in that past. And putting it into context with our life now is so powerful. Not to mention that we know we also won’t be the same in 5 years we are today (that our ideal self will always be ideal and ever-changing) is freeing. Thanks for being so vulnerable here – I’m trying to do this better. :-)

  14. Sara iles

    Thank you x Perfect to read today

  15. Nadine

    And it seems that as we get older, go further down the road, our insides scream louder to be let out, while the rules seem to get tighter, the expectations suffocating. You wonder if you are irresponsible for wanting to break free, yet you know deep down that if you don’t, you will die!

  16. Lacey jewell cope

    Love the vulnerability and honesty in this. It’s hard to always show up authentically and in alignment with the various pieces of ourselves. Finding a way to blend all the nuances into the whole and being fully present is a life long challenge! Thanks for documenting your journey and sharing it with us.

    PS – I love henna! :)

  17. Stephanie Loudmouth

    I love this! Such beautiful words that tell a story we can all relate to… thank you.

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