I have been in my class, Spiritual Identity, for 2 days now. We have spent a lot of time in discussion about poetry, writings, identity, personas, mandalas. We have listened to Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen. We have heard our wonderfully intelligent professor pontificate on life and faith and share stories of spirituality and questioning. We have journaled on topics of spiritual authority, identity, absense of God, the spiritual shadow and response to the readings of Annie Dillard, Theophane the Monk and others. We have sculpted our spiritual shadows from clay and painted our spiritual personas. And we have had small group discussions with other's about their secrets, doubts and loves - to the extent that they would share.
In painting my persona I learned something about myself. Since I stopped going to church, I lost my, for the most part, spiritual persona. My real and pretend selves began to integrate. Who I pretended to be merged with who I am and I couldn’t pretend any more. So in creating a painting of my persona I was no longer that box that is pretty and together but am rather a painting that is a picture left incomplete. A work in progress.
I always wanted to seem together, like a pretty gift box with the box in place. I also wanted to seem creative and interesting so perhaps there might be multiple colors on one side. But I ended up painting this frame with mountains, trees, the sun and a heart all that run off in to white - into open space waiting for completion.
In the past two and a half years I unraveled all that I knew to be "me" and all that I had wanted people to see. I lost the hidden self and became a mess. Chaos everywhere. Kyle told me at coffee once that messy was okay sometimes, he wrote it on a post-it and stuck it on my computer. I slowly let that seep in to my mind and as I was aided in rebuilding my life the fake chipped away.
I want to be a woman of integrity, but that definition is no longer what I thought it was. Now it is not about being "right" but about being authentic and honest. I still struggle and keep a lot to myself or my close friends - but I am living more out loud than I used to.