To Thine Own Self Be True
Full Moon in Gemini
I would like to share my story with you. I am not telling this story to reveal anyone. I am telling my story so as to remind you of yours.
We all have a sense of knowing. Our heart’s wisdom. An inner guidance. A moral compass. That steers us, guides us, so we can walk the path that was meant for us. Not the path that others think is meant for us. To live on purpose. That said, here is a piece of my story.
I was born and raised in a fundamental religion. Some may call it a cult. I was 19 years old and had lived in a bubble where I was told what to think, what to wear, who to call a friend, how to live my life, and to whom I should one day marry. After years of following orders and looking outside myself for validation, I had fallen into a pit of despair, a darkness that I had never experienced. I was trying to live a life that made others happy while it was making me miserable and dragging me further from my truth.
I had many burning questions during this time. Why do I have to look and act a certain way to be accepted by those who say they love me? Wasn’t I enough just the way I was? Why did I have to be silenced when I asked questions that led to discomfort?
Why was I told to conform yet was taught ‘dare to be different’ and ‘to thine own self be true’?
There was a tiny sliver of opportunity to run. To get out. To drive into the night and not look back. My heart was racing. I was leaving everything and everyone I knew. Leaving the security of familiar and trusting that somehow life would be better. It just had to be.
My gut instinct was to leave. Right away. In that moment. Not to hesitate. My heart’s wisdom propelled me forward. There was an innate sense of knowing. Knowing that somehow, in all the unfamiliar territory that I was entering, that all would be ok. My mind begrudgingly came along for the ride. It was frozen in terror. Cautiously hesitant. But no longer had a say in the matter.
I wrote the 3 page letter to my parents. Explaining that I could no longer live this way. That the life they had planned for me was not aligned with who I was. That I could not un-see the cracks and hypocrisy and that it was time to excuse myself from the oppression and suffocation that I was feeling. I no longer had an option. I must leave or I would die. They would lose me either way.
That morning my Mom joined me on the trip into the city to ensure I would cut off all ties with my friends, my work, my home where I was living, and return with her to carry out my days obeying the dogma and marrying the right man. Instead, I mailed the letter that would arrive to them in a day or two and I made a spontaneous plan that I would leave that night. I hugged my Mom for what may be the last time, unable to shed a tear as it would give my secret away and I walked out of their life. I drove away in the night with a few of my belongings, leaving a piece of my heart and the remainder of my stuff behind.
I waited until I was settled with a job and a home before I made the phone call. It had been just over a week when I called and connected with my parents to let them know I was alive and gone. To this day I wondered why they didn’t report me missing and have the authorities look for me. I suppose in a deep sense, they knew. They must have noted my despair. I wear my heart on my sleeve. They had to have seen I was dying inside.
The months that followed were riddled with sickness, shame, guilt yet the most profound freedom I had every experienced. I was shedding what no longer served and becoming me. In the truest sense.
It was years after that, at my Mom’s deathbed actually, that I came to forgive and love myself. She was dying of stage four cancer which had riddled her body with tumours including in her brain. This impeded her ability to speak. But when she could string words together, she had never been more truthful. Finally, she was able to speak her truth for she had nothing to lose. Who could possibly be offended by a dying woman?
My Mom and I had been extremely close all through my childhood until I began to question the life she lived and wanted me to live. I’m certainly not blaming her. I love her unconditionally. And I understand that she was training me how to be the only way she knew how. But when I left, there was a wedge between us. This wedge dissolved quickly at the end of her life. I sat at her bedside in palliative care, holding her hand, reassuring her that she was brave enough to die. It was her last wish. She no longer had the desire to live. Now she was leaving me.
Before she left her body, she made it clear to me that she understood why I left. That she appreciated and accepted who I was in the process of becoming me, coming home to who I truly was. I felt deep sorrow that she didn’t get to experience her true self emerge. She was the most kind, graceful, nurturing woman I have ever known and loved. I am forever grateful for her teaching me ‘to thine own self be true’. It were her words ‘dare to be different’. She was planting the seeds where she knew she could never go.
You see, when we are not living on purpose, not on our true path, our heart knows. Events unravel for us, to teach us, and re-align us. So we can return home, to ourselves. To remember. To remember what we, until now, haven’t realized what we forgot.
And so my work continues. As a little girl, through my childhood and teenage years, I watched my Mom silently suffer. And made a quiet promise to myself to be the light so other women have a safe refuge, to share with other women, as we all remember together. Women are waking all over the globe. We are remembering who we are, remembering our power, and breaking free from the oppressive forces that have tried to keep us, and the women before us, small and contained.
May my story resonate with you and inspire you to stand in your truth. To follow your heart. To allow your sense of knowing guide you and propel you to where you need to go in order to be you. To shed the layers of stuff that accumulates be it shame, resentment, guilt, disappointment so that we may move forward lighter, freer. May you never again dim your light for anyone or feel that you are too much. You are perfect. You are powerful beyond measure.
To thine own self be true.