Sometimes therapy reveals more about ourselves and our spirituality than we can ever believe. For me, that day was today. Being pagan means that I often celebrate many holidays that delve into the mystical aspects of the Maiden, Mother, and Crone. Today, in therapy, I figured out that in my own way, I “aspect” or alter ego myself. It started when I was young, a way to protect myself. No, I didn’t develop split personalities, like those with disassociative indentity disorders do. But what happens is similar in a way. It means that my “alter ego” steps up while I step back, watching as that other aspect of me- the stronger or even weaker part of me, takes over. It means I do remember what goes on, I know what I do, what I say, though sometimes it takes a while to filter to my consciousness. But it does happen.
Everyone says that we wear masks. We wear masks to hide our true selves. In my case, I wear alter egos, a la Clark Kent. I protect the hidden core of what makes me— me. Not many people get to see the real Cyn. Go figure. But there are many who see aspects of me. Just like when you worship the gods– you see their aspects you worship. It’s that principle that hit me hard today. There’s a distance and a protection in doing so. It’s a way to be part of something without fully embracing it. It’s allowed me to be part of life and at the same time, it’s given me a way of keeping it at arm’s length when it got overwhelming. A coping mechanism, my therapist calls it. I’m learning to better integrate the aspects, but as it was pointed out, I might not ever fully expose my core to everyone, nor should I want that.
No super hero wants to be fully exposed twenty-four hours a day. They deserve a day off every once in a while. Same too does someone who has lived through daily life– good and bad. It’s the down time that allows you to process and get rid of the things you don’t need. When you’ve been traumatized, you are overly sensitive, sometimes not knowing what to shed and what to keep, so you cling to everything, because nothing makes complete sense. That’s what I’ve been working on– learning to let go of the pain in my past- the things that have held me back for way too long in life. I’m not the failure I was told I would always be. I’m not evil, that was told to me over and again by those who should have loved me. I”m not the least among those in my family, which is how I was made to feel. I am equal to them. It’s taken me many, many years to realize that. When people tell you harmful things, many times you learn to believe it because it comes from people who are supposed to love you, protect you, and keep you from things that harm. When they’re the perpetrators, you have to unlearn all the wrong things. In my case, I had learned to separate myself early because on some core level, I knew part of what I was told was not correct. How did I cope– I created an alter ego to help deal with what was demanded from me.
I look back at that small, fearful, young child and I weep for her. She didn’t deserve all she went through. She didn’t deserve to feel like she was unloved and in turn, pushed herself away from those who could have given her the love she needed to be whole. I weep for the child that learned that in order to survive, she had to be more than herself. She had to be like a superhero, like the heroines in mystery books– because only by being more could she survive and in turn help those who needed it. One day, I hope she finds peace and acceptance in that she did her best and that no matter what, she is loved for who she is and not for what she does. It’s taken a long time to reach this place in my life- I do love myself– finally.