The Dance between Light and Dark: In Story

A dance between light and dark the storyHow many days have I laid here lost between sleep, thirst, hunger, wakefulness and regret? To awaken, to truly open my eyes to this new day feels too heavy, too painful. The rocks beneath my body have left permanent imprints in my flesh and yet I dare not move arm or leg, hand or foot to find comfort. Pain is the sole reminder that I’m still alive. A light lingers in the corner, illuminating one small space in the endless darkness. It finds me where I hide in memory so heavy that to really see its glimmer I must open my eyes and then open my eyes again. Hell’s road may be paved with good intentions but its exit is barred by the lies of false prophets and a forked tongued god.

“You don’t have the right to live!” the voice croons gently in my head, every syllable a bullet in the brain. “You can’t ever go home!”

“What is home?” I question, but the voice interrupts.

“You’ve made your bed!”

I fall back into my bed, into a darkness that does not sleep, the voice coming and going, a murmur one moment, a scream the next. The hours pass in slow monotony until I recall a playground with a swing set. The memory is bright, its light pierces the dark that swarms like flies around me. I am warmed by the memory, my body jerking on its sharp rocks, my eyes opening to the corner where a glimmer still waits.

I remember more bright days filled with sunlit kisses and hugs that lasted all day. I remember smiles that lit my world and the warmth of my grandmother’s kitchen. I cry when I remember her, so beautiful with her silver hair and bright blue eyes. Shifting on my rock I raise my hand to catch the spark of light. How glorious the warmth feels on my fingers, its gentle rays sliding to me from no discernable place. I watch the play of light over my skin but my hand is dirty and the shame of filth is too great to bare. The game ends and I am lost again in regret. Grandma scolds me, her voice imperious with contempt,

“The dirt of childhood is easily washed. Yet, the filth and sin of the fallen can never be cleaned away.”

“Did she really ever say that?” I ask the room but my mouth doesn’t move. The thought lives only in my head. Grandma never spoke like that. Lifting my hand again I catch the light, determined not to lose it this time. Always in my heart there is a place for forgiveness. I forgave the one who hurt me, I forgave the people who watched but said nothing, I forgave the doctors who patched me up and handed me back yet where is my forgiveness?

“Do you deserve any?” The heavy question breaks through my thoughts but the voice isn’t mine, it’s an evil thing; it’s not me.
“You aren’t real. I am!” my words rattle the room. The light brightens. I cup it in my hands to hold it close. The closer I hold it the brighter it becomes.

“You are love” the light speaks softly, “born of love, in love, of love and so loved that you shine always, always, always even in the darkness…” I rest back on my hard bed but do not close my eyes. This truth must be absorbed, held, understood in order to feel real. The dark voice returns, shouting out edicts and condemnation that I refuse to hear because the light is with me, it is all I see and all I chose to think on. It’s soft whisper resonating gently through my soul.

“I am love, born of love, in love, of love, so loved…” and lifting my head I roll to my side, moving through the pain to my knees until the light encircles me. It is warm, loving, never failing in its comfort.

“Light be with me always.” I speak my words as a prayer feeling the darkness shrink away with many whining, whispering complaints. That dark voice, with it’s imprisoning words of judgment slides to an incoherent echo. The light draws me in and I am comforted by its softly spoken words.

“Turn to me and I am there. Find me and you find the way home. hear me and know that I am the light of love as you are the love that seeks the light.”

With these words the light and I are one kneeling being, free to stand, free to walk, free to find care, to find comfort, to live and laugh where the voice that judges the fire walkers and the fallen is silenced and blinded by its own darkness. I’ve walked the long cindered mile. I’ve taken the stony path and slept in a bed of my own making but these bruises, scars and burns have molded me, hardened me, opened me up and made me strong in the knowledge that love awaits me and brings comfort to us all.

Let the white light of the Universe
enfold, protect me
and bathe me in its healing love.
Let this journey be a tool
to bring peace of mind,
love, joy and kindness back to my life.
Cleanse my soul of hurt and bitterness,
resentment, vengeful and judgmental thinking.
Give me balance and serenity
to face each trial with faith,
an open mind, love and kindness.
When I get lost, let the sun shine down
white light to show me the way back
to the path of Love.
Amen.
A Prayer By Susan H.

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Eating Your Emotions Part 2 with Joanne Del Core and EE Orme

emotional pain

Today I was able to tape the second part of Eating Your Emotions with the brilliant Joanne Del Core.  Recording these radio shows has been an invigorating and emotional process for me.  Thank you for all your support and for taking the time to listen to the shows.

Blessings and Unconditional Love,

EE Orme

 

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Love for the Fallible Human

bride and groomI didn’t want to get married. The idea that I could make and hold a promise to God and a husband until my death seemed too immense for a girl of twenty three. I didn’t like the paper work, I didn’t want the ceremony. I was uncomfortable with the limitations I knew would arise from the everyday compromise of two people making a life together. I loved Dan and in loving him I felt I had already committed my soul to him knowing I was fallible, human and that someday God might want more from me. We discussed me dread of taking an oath to be bound to him forever before God. I’d seen how oath’s bound the people around me, keeping them from expanding their perceptions and consciousness of the world by keeping them in one mode of living, isolated and ignorant, their lives limited and removed from a vaster knowledge of the world. I didn’t want to share my freedom, compromise my passions and become someone else’s labeled and conquered being sworn before God to always be and due as I’d promised to be and due when still, in all reality, a child. People who are boxed in and unhappy look for escape and the emotional fall out of a broken promise is devastating and painful.

The perception of what it is to exist as viewed through an innocent Orange:

An orange sits on a counter top, it is the everyday type of orange, young and shiny in its freshness. In shape and color and lingering scent it vividly proclaims itself an orange. If in ego it were to swear before God to always be the orange would it remain unaltered, whole and perfect, believing in the strength of its identity? Though the orange believes one reality, one destiny, its fate is very different. Taking the orange up we peel away it’s skin. It is now a naked altered orange but still an orange. Does it feel shame for not remaining as it though it would, true to its youthful innocent nature, the nature it swore to maintain before God? Is it more of an orange or less of an orange now that it stands without the skin that once proclaimed its identity? Lifted, moved and dropped, it is transformed yet again into juice. It is now the essence of orange, its fibrous walls removed until it is free flowing orange, no longer contained by structure. With each alteration, the orange has changed, evolved and become more and less than it was to begin with. Yet if this orange really had proclaimed itself before God to always be an orange is it now in an energetic violation of oath? Has it become the Oath breaker, the liar and pathless turncoat who stands for nothing? Will it suffer mentally and emotionally because of this violation of oath? Will it ever see itself as whole and complete again? Or is it lost now forever?

It is, in reality, a simple orange and we can hope it takes its alteration with the spirit and courage of all citrus fruit. Humans are not oranges. We do not rest in the nature of our alteration, accepting each phase with quiet resignation.

The fallible, sentient human may make a million promises in its lifetime. How many will we keep and how many will we alter, bend and break in order to move with the world? Sadly, when a promise or oath is made and broken, the danger does not lie in the loss of God’s love, but in our leaving the presence of his loving light through our own guilt, our inability to accept change and our fear that we are no longer as good, as pure and as loveable as we were. In these moments we punish ourselves far more viciously than any living creature deserves.

God’s light and love never leave us. His joyful acceptance of our stumbles and falls are like those of a parent watching a beloved baby take its first step. In breaking the oath we become liars to ourselves and our faith and to this God who lovingly only wants the best for us. Thus we fall from grace through an internal struggle that has nothing to do with God and everything to do with self-disillusionment, self-hatred and the failure to meet the expectations of our earthly, manmade social paradigms.

In summation, I can tell you that I’ve kept my word to my husband. I’ve loved, honored and cherished him as I swore I would and I have no regrets. My path has altered far from where my dreams would have taken me and with every thought or plan I make, I must put family first while I make time for myself where I can. Marrying didn’t make our love stronger; it didn’t bind us in any permanent structure that could wipe out the possibility of separation but it has brought a tender loving trust that I would not have experienced outside of marriage. The oath hasn’t kept us safe from the terrors of loss but has made us work harder in our marriage to identify when we act out of love and when we act out of duty. In looking at our motives and perceptions we gain greater insights into each other’s souls and keep our love strong. In marriage we have matured and been stripped of our selfish ideals and self-interested perceptions. In marriage we have gained a life based on service, love and a deep mutual respect that evolves and grows richer with each passing year.

 

EE Orme

 

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Nothing to Prove

two girls holding hands
I no longer have anything to prove. Not to myself, not to my friends and not to the world. Stress, anxiety and worry, guilt and fear grow stronger when I reach for perfection; wanting in every way to prove that I am worth knowing, worth hearing, worth the time it takes to say hello. Freedom lives in acceptance, as does love, compassion and the greatest gift, contentment. I have set aside my need for riches, my wish for worldly wealth and I am at home with myself and to myself in a way I never was before, simply because I make no excuses for who I am. I am…and that’s enough.

The road to poverty is paved with unnecessary consumption; that driving need to own the latest, the greatest, the biggest and the best in order to be cutting-edge, cool and accepted. I have bought my fair share of acceptance based merchandise. I have run up my credit cards and wept when I couldn’t pay the bill. I wore the right shoes with the right dress to the right occasion where I said all the right things to all the right people? Instead of feeling exhilarated, accepted and admired I felt tired and jaded as if I’d shelved the best and brightest parts of me for one radiantly superficial occasion.

Once shelved, our best and brightest features begin to fade. Our true natures waste away into the shadowed recess of our souls, coming out in confessions to a friend who isn’t really a friend because in truth, she’s never really met you. Oh sure you’ve shopped together and gossiped together but the moment you let your true self slip into the open, you’re confronted with the reality that you’ve crossed that line into inexplicable depth. Your pretty friend’s eyes glaze over, there’s a lull in conversation accompanied by the reality that you’ve gone too far. “Beyond this point there be dragons,” the old maps used to read and you struggle through uncomfortable chatter, the bird song of small talk, until you reestablish the comfortable anonymity that kept you both intimate strangers. Then your friend grows busy, too busy, to shop and gossip and her world spins on without you.

I have nothing to prove, nothing to preach, I’ll love you in your best dress or in your most ragged pair of sweats. You know the pair you reserve for those days when you’re too old for teddy bears but too broken to understand how much you need one. I don’t care if you’re not wearing eye makeup or where you got your hair done. If you can’t stop crying I’ll probably join you. If you’ve got the giggles I’m right there to.

“A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow.”
-William Shakespeare

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The Farm Wife’s God

Shepherdess with Her FlockI will not pass through your “angelic” doors to be made insignificant by your lofted buttresses, shining alters and painted glass. I will not feel small in this world (my world); the place where my mother walked with her mother back to the beginning of time. Keep your sky God … a never wandering…never breathing…never living God who lets his children slip through his fingers into hell flame and fire.

My God rests upon the world, an invisible guest filled with a heady love, riotous in his moments of childlike joy. As one we live a life of love and laughter, blessed by the magic of a stocked pantry and a well-made stove belching out good scents: hot fresh bread, new beef stew, hot apple tart pulled from the flames just as the crust turns golden. This is a Good use of fire, the right use of fire, a fire that feeds and nurtures as fire should. My God is a hearth God, an earth God, a plentiful smiling God, his feet treading the wheat rows at my side from planting to harvest.

During long winters, my prayers are answered with the birth of a child, the well-wishing visit of old friends and neighbors, the scent and flavor of roasted ham and salted lentils. My God is here, his feet under the table. He blesses us when the sun hardly shines and we have only our stories and each other to pass the time with.

So I say to you now, threaten no one with your false doctrines, black clad papist man. For fear has no place among the peaceful. I’ve seen your cathedrals rising high into the clouds, calling the frightened to worship in dread of hell fire and false magic.

My cathedral is my hand-made house. My pulpit, a faded arm chair by the fire.  My doctrine is the doctrine of the farm: rise early, feed good fodder, share your bounty with your neighbors, always close a gate and be kind even in the kill, for kill we must to lay our table. As the fire heats the meat, my God and I give thanks, and are humbled by the beauty and bounty of the day.

I need no sky God’s magic, no promised afterlife, no cathedrals dripping in gold to know that I am loved, heaven made and purpose bent. I need no holy man to guide me to the heaven I already know, not while the hills call, the cattle low and there are sheep to be sheered.

When my time comes, my God will lead me by my work roughened hands that have fed people, birthed people, raised up the sick and buried the dead before the setting of the second sun and he will know that I have always been grateful to be alive. That  being the very best kind of worship there is.

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Slaying the Princess to Feed the Dragon

Weight is a huge issue in America. It consumes us, eats us up and devours us whole. Weight consciousness maintains a mind bending strangle hold on every aspect of our lives.  We count calories, workout harder and diet more than any culture in the history of mankind and yet year after year we just get bigger. Our fixation on the waist line has led us to embrace personal betrayal. We have broken away from our own authenticity and turned our backs on self-respect, all in the hopes that we can blend into society’s idea of perfection.

At the age of seven I wanted to be a princess. I had the face, round with large eyes and rosy cheeks, but I lacked that slender physique which said, dainty, graceful, slim and resplendent. Due to my lack of, “dainty,” I lost sight of the pretty, couldn’t see the rosy cheeks or the large round eyes. At the age of seven I embarked on a 30 year career of yo-yo dieting, self-hatred and illness. With eating disorders in tow, I stocked my fridge with “health food,” took hot yoga, took spin classes, weight trained, aerobicized, ran, skied, biked and dieted my way into a ruined metabolism, adrenal fatigue and depression. In my depression I finally realized that I will never be a size two princess. I will never be “dainty.”

I’m farm stock. It’s that plain and simple. My people have been hauling hundred pound sheep and thousand pound cattle through sleet and blizzard, over hill and dale, for time out of mind. I am in no way related to the blue blooded, pampered princess types capable of feeling a pea through a dozen layers of eiderdown mattress. My people were not made “dainty.” We never have had…not once…a “dainty” sixteen inch waist or long “dainty” fingers. We are farm people, built to work, built to survive, built to procreate in large numbers and eat whatever was dumb enough to wander into our way.

Still, I let the princess take my life from me. For thirty years she lived in my head and told me if I just cut more calories, if I just worked out harder and smarter, I could earn the right to live. She told me that I was worthless, big and stupid. I felt defenseless to fight her. I felt alone and unlovable, degraded and disowned. With help I gained the courage to slay the princess, feed my dragon like hunger and rescue my farm girl self from the nether regions of hell.

Now I eat when I’m hungry and remind myself often that nothing’s worth doing if it’s not enjoyable. After a life of hellish self-abusive workouts and diet regiments, it’s nice to find out what feels fun. Over the past year I’ve learned that I still love to work out, I still love to hike, swim and lift weights. I take care of myself and I look and feel better then ever. I’ve turned my back on “dainty.” I’ve chosen instead to feel powerful, athletic, happy, whole and healthy at every size. I’ve pledged to love myself no matter my weight and you know what? That’s OK!

So with a new respect for myself and women as a whole I have begun my fourth novel, a book about a big beautiful farm girl who’s relationship with God, clarity in being and love of authenticity, is unparalleled. I’m writing Marie-Celest for all my fellow Farm girls. God built some of us bigger and stronger so let’s stop starving away our God given strength.

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Cultivating Silence

I love silence. It’s a rare and beautiful thing. Silence eludes me at times but is easily cultivated once I let go enough to let it wander free. I love drifting through my silenced house with nothing to do. It’s these empty spans of nothingness that feed my soul in a profound way. I put on silence like an old coat, one that holds me close with its friendly warmth. I like the way silence buffers away the complicated storm swept world as it soothes my mind into quiet order.

In those rare moments when silence is accompanied by nothing to do I invariably finger a book I have no intention of reading or better still I pet my cat and break silence into a raucous flow of vibrational joy. My cats purr is deep and throaty. It is a cultivated purr won from silence, the silence of never having known love. That was not a nice silence. My cat has the purr of a feral cat dumped high on a hill top farm. It is the purr of courage which sings, “I dared to trust and in trust found love.”

Sometimes in my silence I contemplate at my toes. I have brave toes. I like to think of all the places my toes have led me. To the crib where my baby boy slept, to the door of my mother’s house, to the airport where together, toes and I boarded a plane. Finally I like to think of the moment my toes stepped to the top of Wearyall Hill. In this place the silence listens, builds and grows into a sort of spiritual wonder I can scarce find words to express.

One of the sweetest silences I know is barn silence. That’s right…barn silence. I have known barns filled with the slow breaths of big horses and the silent swoop of swallow’s wings. I have cupped my hands to catch gold bright dust particles suspended for a moment in the gleaming perfection of sunset; my horses quietly chewing in their darkening stalls. Barn silence is the best silence because it is filled with contentment. It whispers, well done, everyone is stalled, blanketed, fed, happy and safe. You’ve done your job, your free to find your bed but linger a while because contentment like this only comes to rose sniffers, day dreamers and those who understand and love the richness that comes with the knowledge that all is right with the world.

Silence gives rise to contemplation, the birthplace of epic daydreams. Epic daydreams become manuscripts upon which I labor hour after hour day after day. I nestle down happy with the certainty of my well spun plot, the depth of my characters,  enjoying the peace of knowing that everything will end as I wish it. What if life could be as conveniently orchestrated?

In Silence I disconnect from the global mind, allowing myself to once again become unique to my surroundings. In this great disconnect, I go off-line into silence and am again the girl I was, quiet and shy, no longer forced to brave a world which feels too big.

In silence I hear my heartbeat. In silence I’m glad I’m alive. In silence I am able to set aside my humanity, drink in the sublime and let go of all the petty rages which injure only me. In silence I am home, I am free and I am at peace because silence asks for nothing. It simply gives me space to be.

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What Phillis Wheatley Taught Me

Phillis Wheatley came into my life pressed between the pages of a rather lack luster anthology. I was twenty-one when I first sat down in my American Literature class ready to be thoroughly educated. My professor was young and handsome. He wore a tweed jacket with elbow patches and I knew that we would have great discussions that would change my life. I was right. My interactions with him would change my life.

The only Wheatley poem my anthology contained was the short but controversial,

On being brought from Africa to America

‘TWAS mercy brought me from my Pagan land,
Taught my benighted soul to understand
That there’s a God, that there’s a Saviour too:
Once I redemption neither fought now knew,
 Some view our sable race with scornful eye,
“Their colour is a diabolic die.”
Remember, Christians, Negroes, black as Cain,
May be refin’d, and join th’ angelic train.

I read the poem with understandable concern. My white Gen-X background in no way prepared me for a woman who spoke with gratitude on having been taken from her family at the age of 7, sold into slavery at age 8 and then named after the slave ship which transported her. How she ever survived the long voyage aboard “The Phillis,” no one knows.

I sat in shock listening to my professor discuss the hardships of her life in blasé tones. He furthered the insult by saying that Wheatley’s poem was ironic. My indignation was instant. Nowhere in her words could I detect irony. I heard a fragile voice, as gentle as moonlight, singing out an ideology forced on her through hardship, a new and vengeful God coupled with the tortuous cruelty of slavery. Surely, no one with a heart could read this poem and honestly believe that Wheatley’s poem was ironic. Slowly I raised my hand, stated my case and flatly refused to back down.

My professor believed that his word was the last word on all subjects literary. My refusal to understand that Wheatley’s poem was ironic angered him so much that he began yelling “ironic” at me every time our paths crossed: In the hall, out on the green, in the parking lot. My reply to each and every one of his attacks was to simply say, “sincere.”

At the end of quarter, after turning in every paper, after aceing every quiz and test I received a D-. The girl who sat opposite me never turned in her papers, missed tests and didn’t read the assigned texts but was shocked to receive an A. I approached my professor, I stated that he’d switched the grades and he replied, “How very ironic?” Yes it was ironic that I should fail this simple class with my strong English background. Yes it was ironic that I should fight for a defenseless black poetess, and yes it was ironic that I, a woman, was forced to defend my belief before an empowered white male. I went to the Dean, I filed my complaint and nobody listened.

So this is what Phillis Wheatley taught me. She taught me that even when you’ve been bullied, brainwashed, stomped on and threatened you have to keep on speaking what your heart tells you is right. Since failing American Lit. I have become a lover of Wheatley’s poetry. In her words I find sweetness, beauty, and a refinement not of this world. Her voice is more tangible to me now than any grade. My soul is strengthened by her poem On Virtue. My love of art grows in her poem To S. M. A Young African Painter, On Seeing His Works. My favorite of her poems is simply entitled,

On Imagination.

Imagination! who can sing thy force?
Or who describe the swiftness of thy course?
Soaring through air to find the bright abode,
Th’ empyreal palace of the thund’ring God,
We on thy pinions can surpass the wind,
And leave the rolling universe behind:
From star to star the mental optics rove,
 Measure the skies, and range the realms above.
There in one view we grasp the mighty whole,
Or with new worlds amaze th’ unbounded soul.

Phillis is one of the reasons why I write about silenced women. Her history is part of why I will always take up a cause my heart recognizes as pure. Phillis could not speak out against slavery when she herself was enslaved but read again On being brought from Africa to America and notice how gently she presses the truth that we all have the right to find grace.

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Choosing Healthy over Hellish Love: Understanding the Trauma Bond

I’ve known several people who believed in this phrase, “We always hurt the one’s we love.” These people weren’t naturally abusive but each had a brutal past, a despair based perspective and an intangible grief. They lived in a state of bitter despair, their days clouded with careless words, biting comebacks and bursts of violence. There were constant stories of war, drunkenness and past wrongs depicted so vividly that, even though I wasn’t there, I experienced them vicariously.

Trauma Bonds make you the secret keeper to other people’s traumatic experiences. These bonds hold you hostage to atrocities, forcing you to turn for support to those who witnessed hell with you. Break a trauma bond by starting a better life and you will never be forgiven for leaving your fellow victims alone with their pain.  Stay and you will be forever stuck at the scene of the crime, a captive victim to a hellish past.

Trauma bonds are fused by a love that goes beyond healthy. It asks that you bare your soul, set aside your values and immerse yourself in a cult like existence. The bond is so overwhelming that you forget who you are and what you ever wanted for yourself. Only the trauma exists; the perpetuated recollection of the darkest moments in life replayed again and again within the trauma bond collective.

Trauma bonds are defensive. Everyone outside the bond is viewed as a potential risk, criminal or predator. Within a trauma bond there is no room for growth, no room for happiness, success or healthy relationships with the outside world.

In my book, The Only Home I’ve Ever Known, my character Gidra is trauma bound to her mother Sophia. They survived a war, hid from enemy troops and forage for food through bombed out villages. With the wars end their trauma bond continues. It grows, warps and twists into a new kind of desperation which makes Gidra’s life impossible to endure. At the beginning of the book Sophia artfully recalls their shared past in order to maintain her control over her daughter. You and I have been through a lifetime together and there is no one in this world who will ever love you or know you the way I do. Please remember that when Parker starts to make you promises. Please remember how hard we’ve fought to stay together when life wanted to separate us.” With these well-chosen words Sophia strives to enforce the trauma bond and destroy any hope Gidra may have of a life outside their bond.

Identifying and breaking away from a trauma bond is an important step to discovering your autonomy.  If you are experiencing a relationship that leaves you feeling depleted or depressed it may be traumatically fused. Separation is usually the first step. Only through separation will you begin to gain a new perspective of the world around you. Secondly, forgive your trauma partners for the life they offered you. When you learn to let go of your past you will be ready to embrace your present. Practice self-protection. Set safety boundaries that free you to live authentically. Open your self to new experiences slowly. Too much too quickly can send you back into old habits.  Practice everyday gratitude (this I really can’t stress enough). Chose to be happy and remember that you do not owe your life to anyone. You were born to live each day on your terms. Go forth and truly live.

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Locating your Authentic Self

Locating your Authentic Self is an important step towards relational intimacy. It is impossible to experience deep sustaining love if you are hiding behind a role. In life we misplace our true identity behind labels and ideas that obscure the person we really are. Removing the layers of pretense and fear driven identity can be an intimidating undertaking. Only through authenticity can you find freedom, joy and true love.

Fake identities manifest through fear, loneliness and a need to please, protect or be accepted. These labels come from parents, siblings, society, educational titles, or they may be self-applied. Labels start small but they quickly take on a life of their own, crippling their host’s ability to live authentically in the process. False identity states: I am not a whole person until you know this fact about me. Or, I wouldn’t be good enough for this moment if you knew the real me.

My most destructive false identity came with childhood. I was told that I was, drifty, irrational, difficult, bossy, too sensitive and controlling. These labels grew into, Bitch and finally Crazy Bitch, a title I took to with zeal. I wore it like battle armor, ready to shred my life and my family. Being Crazy Bitch, offered me a way to escape the permanent victim hood I was raised in.

When my husband first asked me out I said, “You don’t want to date me, I’m crazy.” Was this my truth? At the time I thought it was. After years of being labeled, of rebelling, and of being labeled again, I developed an identity that said I was crazy, untrustworthy and mercenary. He looked into my eyes and said, “You’re not crazy.” I remember how sad I felt for him. I knew that at some point I would shred him, break him, hurt him the way I had my family. I overcame my destructive false identity and have a healthy authentic marriage because of his love, trust and support.

In my book Magdalena’s Shadow, I introduce my audience to Coco, a girl who struggles with finding her true identity. Her story begins under the labels: idiot, unlovable and crazy. As the story progresses her labels grow to encompass: model, single mother and whore. Coco could succumb to these labels but like so many of us she strives to overcome the labels she was branded with. Guided by a strict code of personal integrity, Coco begins a compelling search for personal freedom, self-worth and lasting love.

Freedom is yours when you rise above unwanted roles and other people’s beliefs about what you should be. Sit down and list out the roles which you identify with and ask yourself, “how does this role make me feel?” Question, “who would I be if I didn’t believe this about myself?” Listen carefully to your heart’s answers. Be still with your authentic self. Take time to bond with the feeling of just being you, even if only for a moment. Stripping away the layers of false self can feel scary. It helps to understand that the false self has no integrity, is incapable of lasting love and lives wholly outside of intimacy because intimacy cannot be achieved in the presence of a lie.