The Truth of Who I Am

"Only the truth of who you are, if realized, will set you free." -Eckhart Tolle

The Truth About Pants and Boxes

I had a moment of truth a few weeks ago when I was getting dressed and pulling up a pair of pants and coming to the realization that I would not be needing a belt that day for a pair of pants that have always required the use of a belt. They were snug. They fit just right on the waist and even a little too snug on the rest of the curves I possessed. Could it be? Might I really have grown my curves some more????!!!!

I stood there and attempted the usual mode of making sense of the situation.

Maybe it was because they had shrunk in the dryer? Nope. No reason for this to be the first time they had shrunk in the dryer after so many cycles of washing and drying.

Maybe it was because it was that more “sensitive” time of the month when my womanly body stores extra water? Nope. Not that time.

Maybe it was because they were just too old now so they had finally given in to the last wash and dry? C’mon, Rhina…

And then I accepted the truth of the situation.

This situation has been on my mind a whole lot since then. In truth, this situation has plagued me my entire life it seems. It goes way back into my childhood when my cheeks were constantly squeezed by all sorts of adults and I was told I had such cute chubby cheeks. Sometimes  I was told that I wasn’t fat, just plump. As a preteen I noticed with horror that my thighs filled out – especially when I was seated and looking down at them. I found myself looking in the mirror and trying to figure out just the right way to sit so that my thighs appeared smaller. As a teenager, it seemed that all my friends were slimmer and, thus, more ideal.

I swam and played a variety of sports and even competed in some sports in school. I participated in synchronized swimming, for heaven’s sake! I played badminton – and if you have played it seriously, you’d know it’s not a garden sport. I’d mention being an avid chess player, but I may be pushing my luck to make the point that I was sporty. Interestingly, I never saw myself as athletic, because my sister had that descriptor covered. I’m not sure what the obsession was, but everyone around us had to offer their comparisons of us out-loud and to us and we both took in the messages and kept creating and adjusting our images of ourselves without having the chance to actually see ourselves as we truly were.

She was the athletic one. I was book smart. She was the outgoing one. I was a homebody. She spoke her mind. I was peace-loving. She was adventurous. I preferred safety. She made friends easily. I had the hardest time making friends because I was shy. She was fun. I was sweet. She had a magnetic personality. I had a pretty face. And on and on it went. With each label, we picked up our paint brushes and changed our self-portraits just a little bit. Sometimes with a  heavy heart and sometimes with pleasure. But each time I did it, I felt a tad bit more fitted into something and therefore a tad bit less free. I suspect my sister felt the same way. Still, we grew into our labels and then remained there for the most part.

Until now. Lately. The last several years, even. The box in which I was fitted into, like my pair of pants, has gotten too snug and uncomfortable. The truth is that very little of the off-handed observations made by people who barely knew us were true. We didn’t need to take on their limited and limiting view of us and how I wish we hadn’t. We were BOTH capable and we BOTH possessed all of the qualities they noticed. My sister is also a book-worm and a homebody and peace-loving and sometimes afraid and shy and extremely sweet and beautiful. See her here…

Nancy

My beautiful sister, Nancy.

And I have been known to be a social coordinator who uses her voice and words to advocate. I went whitewater rafting down the Zambezi River into which the Victoria Falls spills. And I did that with nobody I knew on the raft with me. I also took my first solo flight at age 18 to a whole new continent with three connecting flights along the way which were delayed by hours and led to me missing flights and me having to command a taxi driver to get his hand off my knee while driving me to my final destination in Atlanta. For the longest time I did not even see this about me even as I did these things. I did not see that I was outgoing and outspoken and adventurous and a great friend, too.

And then came this little opportunity called motherhood that has taught me and filled me up in ways I did not know were possible. This has been the opportunity that truly showed me that the box I had fit myself into had always been way too small for the truth of who I am. Becoming a mother the first time around revealed the amazing capability of my body to make another human being. That’s some kind of power!

But it was the second time around, when I became a mother to a daughter that I realized just how small and tight that box had been all along. My daughter, Kaya, fills me with wonder and a deep sense of pride in the way she is in this world. I have often noticed her in quiet moments of wonder and admired the strong, independent, confident, free-thinking and carefree girl that she is. I realize that I can see those pieces of her because she is exactly how I wanted to be as a child. Well, all except for her ridiculous hot-messiness, but that’s for another blog post with a much more shallow message and lots of necessary humor.

Kaya on Mount Trashmore, VA Beach

Kaya on Mount Trashmore, VA Beach

 

The night before she started Kindergarten I had a conversation with her about goals and intentions. Yes, I am THAT mother who talks about these things in the hopes of creating memories and influencing their futures. I spoke for a while about the difference between goals and intentions. I explained that goals are the things you want to do but they have to be guided by your intentions, etc. After all of that I asked her about her intentions  for this year in Kindergarten. Her answer after thinking for a moment was simple and sweet and very matter-of-fact:

“My intention is to be myself, Mommy.”

There were no more words left for me to say so I kissed her on her forehead and smiled on the outside and nearly burst with pride on the inside, wiped away tears and said, “You do exactly that, my girl. Just be yourself.” Because what else is there to say when you realize that your 5 year-old daughter has learned the lesson that is taking you forty some years to learn?

My daughter teaches me how to be in this world. She is one of my greatest and most favorite teachers on how to climb out of the box and live in the world. I fear I may not be able to live fully until I climb out of the box and carefully and intentionally and bravely stay out of any other boxes. Who knows what I might do this year? I might participate in a triathlon if I want to. I might even join a team sport. Or perhaps I’ll write that book I’ve been wanting to write or learn to ice-skate well (as in without holding on to gripping the side bar) or climb the Tetons like my adventurous husband did. Okay so Tetons are out, but maybe the others. The world is mine and I am of the world.

Rest assured, I’ll keep my pants on, but it may have to be a different pair. For a while, anyway, until my new athletic ventures help me fit back into the old pair again.

Truthfully yours,

Rhina

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