Friday, March 15, 2013

Which are the artificial yeses?

To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else, means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight... e.e.cummings

A reader's question from the last writing "the lioness and the oryx":  "I can so identify with where you are coming from. Of course, it raises the question -- which are artificial yeses?"

My artificial "yes" was institutionalized early. In the fifties and sixties, being female, I was trained by society to say, "yes": yes to wife-hood, mother-hood, religion-hood, and just about any hood my blind eyes couldn't see. My inner no's, my authentic self had pretty sparse ground in which to sprout.

Yet, those yeses gave me social value, protections, and security. Becoming a wife, I was no longer considered an "old maid, a spinster." The labels speak for themselves. Becoming a mother was the most important contribution I could make to society. (I had three degrees.) Leaving the children to work outside the home was neglect. I was also not to be smarter, taller or earn more money than my mate. These requirement/roles, too often starve my true lioness nature, my natural self. (My husband, who was a freer thinker than the norm, gave me support and space in which to explore these social roles.)

At first, I had to learn what was the "surface me" and then what was the "authentic me" -- how did they differ? I discovered I starved emotionally and spiritually every time I said yes when something in me said a deeper no: how many times did I say yes to sex when I did not want it, yes to company when I was exhausted, yes to measuring up to someone elses expectations rather then my own. (Actually, it is rather embarrassing to write this.)  I sought personal value from others, my yeses often put me in a box/situation that crippled my choices. I needed to make things right, keep everyone happy. To sum it up, I too often was gooy-nice rather than honest and true --  with a, "No thanks."

Socialization peels away a layer at a time and the odd time in chunks. Of course the trick is, even today, who am I, really? What expands my spirit, what resonants with my inner being, what freedoms wait there for me to play in? I try for a glimpse daily as it is always new ground.  Socrates said it several thousand years ago, "To thy own self be true." No one ever wrote to thy own self be artificial. If the lioness had been true she would be alive today.

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