"Shattering Masks" Preview – Opening Chapter 6

We are halfway through our weekend fundraising effort and we still have a ways to go before we reach the goal. I was asked to share an excerpt from the book and I am more than happy to oblige! This is one of my favorite moments in the story where my perspective on growing and healing took a turn for the better. I hope you enjoy it!

Chapter 6

“It’s a new day and I’m learning that if my mind is to truly find its voice, my heart must also find its song.”

The “Feeling” Void

For about a year after my brush with suicidal plans, I began the process of unmasking myself and finding some sense of true identity. As I worked to unwind and redirect various thought patterns, I was under the assumption that I was “unable to connect with my emotions.” I had actually been told that by a care-provider while I was in the hospital. I will give her the benefit of the doubt and say her intent was good; the fact is I wasn’t connecting with my emotions. Whenever the need to process an event or concept arose, I went straight for the analytical kill. I had answers. I had thoughts. Good ones. They had carried me this far and they were good enough to keep carrying me further.

Then again, I was in the hospital after an episode of suicidal ideation that progressed to making a plan. I was in a marriage that was rapidly deteriorating and I was incredibly confused about my own identity. How effective were my thoughts, really? How reliable were the concepts that constantly required me to find just the right personality disguise for any given moment? Perhaps it was time to give this whole feeling thing a chance.

Reconnecting

I began to work on my emotional vocabulary. I had graphs and charts and wheels. I assigned them colors with varying intensity. If there was a logical way to process emotions, I was going to find it and make it work, every time, all the time. I don’t know if it was finally getting hormones to balance out in my body or if I was just getting in better touch with reality, but that approach to experiencing feelings quickly failed. If I was going to get a grip on this whole emotional side of me, I was just going to have to let go and start to “feel”.

I had been working for a while on meditation techniques as a way to mitigate the impact of stress and anxiety on my mind and body. It was during these meditation moments that I started to take pictures of sunrises and the first “It’s a new day” posts emerged on the blog. It was also during one of these morning meditations, sitting on the deck of Sophia Sojourn (my houseboat), that I began to grab hold of some memories. In particular, these were emotional memories that held joy and love and passion as well as sorrow and hurt and confusion.

The lake was on fire with the days emerging light. The herons and ducks were stretching their wings and venturing out of their nesting spots. I don’t know if it was the warmth of the sun or the gentle breeze and the rocking boat, but I was taken back to a more innocent time when I felt emotions with more freedom, with more abandon and fewer walls around my heart and soul. I was back on the beaches of Puerto Rico, specifically the cliffs that separated our neighborhood from the blue water crashing into the shore beneath them.

I remembered sitting there and composing poems and songs, deep from the heart – at least as deep as a twelve-year-old heart can reach – and free of concerns like logic, practicality and responsibility. I remembered specific verses even though the papers that held them have long since been lost:

The sun is setting on the deep blue sea;

As I sail in its reflection, this is the song it sings:

‘Home is where you are going;

Home from the sea;

Home is where you are going;

Where you ought to be.’

There were dozens of them and they reflected what I was feeling as clearly as the water reflected the sunrise. As I was flooded with these memories, thoughts of hope and courage came over me. Somewhere in my soul, a desire for adventure was reborn. The contrast of those innocent memories with my emotionally stifled present reality brought my mind back to that comment in the hospital when I had been confronted with my inability to emote. It wasn’t that I was incapable of taping into my emotions; I had come to fear them.

Please take a moment to do two things:

  1. jump over to the gofundme page and make a donation. You’ll be reserving your copy of the book and helping get the story out to those who may need to hear it.
  2. Share – on your social media, via email, on your blog, with your neighbor. However you spread the word in your circles, please share this opportunity to be a part of this project!

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