I listened to Jane Fonda speaking about her life, and I wasn't able to write it down word for word, but what she had to say struck me.
How our survival self stands in the way of us growing up and becoming whole.
I know this is true.
She said, "I stepped out of myself to live next door to me, in a shell of perfection."
This shell is pretending to not be hurt and abused, but to be 'okay' and 'normal'. We have to act like this, in order to maintain the family's image and good front. It soon becomes who we are, it grows thicker and thicker, the longer we live this way.
She also said that the tool we use to survive, becomes the tool that is the obstacle for becoming whole.
I see it as the shell has to be taken down in order to get back to your own self, and this shell is the facade we lived as to be normal and okay. Removing this wall brings us to our truth.
Our truth is scary on many levels. For one it is not accepted by our parents and others who want to remain in their shells. And it was terrifying knowing that I lived as a shell, but not me. That my truth wasn't who I had lived as.
I knew my shell much better than I knew who I was and my history. As a shell I constructed things to look better than they appeared. Friendlier, kinder and more loving. Outside of the shell it was like all my friends became enemies.
Yet, without ever leaving the shell of pretend, I would not have grown up...I would have remained stunted and as immature as a child inside; a wounded child.
It is funny, in a peculiar way, that we believe we can add things to cover up our abuse, and that we can grow around it. But, in the end, we end up with a pretty, perfect shell, and a yucky inside.
Our outer appearance can't change how we feel inside.
This is the mad dance and marathon...forever adding something on the outside to help boost our self esteem. I couldn't be good enough, smart enough or cute enough to erase the abuse.
Once I sat down with my wounded child, I was able to begin growing as me.
No more shells.
No more pretending.
Instead I began falling in love with me...broken, abused, but real.
I loved my real self and had to say good bye to the shell.
The shell that helped me survive my childhood had followed me into adulthood.
Jane is right, the shell that kept me surviving my childhood, also kept me from being whole and me.
So in order to become me, I had to leave my shell behind.
My shell was the shield that kept my real feelings from showing.
Kept me from pleasing myself, but always pleased others.
It shielded me from becoming too emotional and loving, from being open and vulnerable. My soft spot remained behind this thick wall.
I remember my husband commenting, in the very early days of my father's exposure, that I was like a scared rabbit. And I was. I was walking around fully exposed without my shell.
God, those early days were brutal. Living life without a shell had me feeling extremely naked...and bloody. The image of a wound.
I was walking around as a wound...without a shell. No longer able to pretend that I wasn't abused.
Until you can heal the wound you are very sensitive...with your nerves exposed.
Now, I feel my wound is healed.
Shell long discarded...and I am growing up.
My insides are matching my body.
I no longer am a grown woman, wearing a shell, to cover up my wounded child.
I am now grown woman who was wounded as a child...who grew up as I mothered my own wound, by no longer covering up my truth.