MAKING PEACE WITH MY TRUE SELF…After 45 years of being the false one
by bryan maynard
Here’s what I know after living forty-seven years as a Westerner on this planet: we spend the first three or four decades building a life founded upon a weak sense of the self, and we wear many faces to convince ourselves and others that we are worthy and capable of living within the walls of the city. But when life makes demands that call upon a strong sense of self –when life and culture say “YOU are unable to keep up with what the world wants from you!” “YOU are not what your life-partner wants or needs anymore!” YOU are too old, too average, too forgettable.” “YOUR life has not turned out to be what others expected or even what you expected, either”–we don’t have a strong enough sense of self to guide us in skillful responses.
Much of what happens, then, in the rest of our lives is the work of reclaiming our sense of self (usually the latter half of our lives and after much painful experience). It is literally letting go of one kind of self and slowly learning to ‘start over’ like a child, especially if we experienced abuse or circumstances that cut us off from our true selves. It is hard work to even recognize that our false self is dying and that this is what’s happening and what needs to happen.
I’ve just accepted that this is part of what my journey has to be as a western person. Finding my own voice, knowing what is true for me, learning to trust my own thoughts on things and learning how to care for my whole person are the means to a healthy self. It normally requires working with a trusted guide who can help us develop those skills we needed earlier in life like knowing our own perspectives on things, learning to identify and experiences our feelings and discerning our personality.
Jack Kornfield includes a poem by May Sarton called NOW I BECOME MYSELF. It talks about this work of reclaiming our lost self. It can take a while to get to the real self, but the truth inside us is still there, waiting and hoping to be discovered and celebrated. There’s no way around this kind of work if we wish to be happy and whole.
Now I become myself. It’s taken
Time, many years and places,
I have been dissolved and shaken,
Worn other people’s faces,
Run madly, as if Time were there,
Terribly old, crying a warning,
“Hurry, you will be dead before–“
(What? Before you reach morning?
or the end of the poem is clear?
Or love safe in the walled city?)
Now to stand still, to be here,
Feel my own weight and density! . . .
Now there is time and Time is young.
O, in this single hour I live
All of myself and do not move
I, the pursued, who madly run
Stand still, stand still, and stop the Sun!
Peace to you, friend!