Coming home to your self
I love coming home at the end of the day.
As I drive up to our brightly colored house, I enjoy our spring garden, with its wild apple tree in the middle, branches standing on end, going in all directions. Our red door welcomes me home. Everything is so familiar and comfortable. I always like to take off my work clothes first—packing away my responsibilities as therapist, supervisor and colleague. When I come downstairs, I have finally arrived.
During our busy lives we juggle multiple roles and obligations--mother, father, son, daughter, employee, brother, sister and friend. We want to be good parents, good sons and daughters, and good workers. We want to do a good job at everything we do.
But do you ever wonder, “Who am I really?” This question arises at different times and moments over the course of our lives.
I remember, as if it were yesterday, sitting on my 13-year-old daughter's bed, before she went to sleep. With tears streaming down her cheeks, she cried “Who am I? I don’t know who I am!” I looked at her, and behind her tears and confusion, I saw her spirit shining through her pain. I remembered gazing at her when she was a baby and a young child—her feisty spirit beaming out from her face before it became layered over by life’s experiences. I told her—“I know who you are, and you have always been, and who you will always be. But now, it’s your job to find this out for yourself.”
For those of us who are parents, we remember looking into our children’s eyes as babies. They were so beautiful, so complete! –absolutely pure, without life experience, pain, sadness, shoulds, have to’s, or need to’s. As they grow, these perfect beings absorb language, culture, experience, and learn to fit into society and family. Over time, their spirit becomes like the sun in Washington State—often obscured by low hanging clouds. But it always there, hidden or not.
I believe that one of the goals of adult life is to come home to ourselves—to who we have always been, and who we will always be. There is a self beneath all of the complex roles that we juggle that embodies the deepest facets of our being. To recognize this self is like coming home at the end of the day.
This impulse to understand ourselves is often expressed in the desire for others to truly “know” us. We gravitate towards friends who we feel see into our “real” selves. They know us as we really are, not as we wish to be viewed. Indeed, the experience of being known by another person engenders a deep feeling of comfort and relief. It is something that we long for in our closest relationships.
In our adult lives, we have many moments when we remember who we are. Sometimes, in nature, we experience a deep connection to ourselves. At other times, engaged in some activity we love, we lose track of time and place, and we are in tune with ourselves. Religious or spiritual experiences can also engender this multi-layered feeling of awareness.
So what are some simple ways to connect with ourselves?
Walk. Being outside in nature is very important. Just by moving in space, walking, we experience the world around us and the world within us. Communing with nature, in whatever way you enjoy can initiate this awareness of your true self.
Take time for yourself. I know that this can be very difficult. Everyone wants a piece of you sometimes, and for some parents, the only time they have alone is in the bathroom! Even then, they have little ones banging on the door! But even a little time alone helps you come home to yourself.
Find a creative outlet. Painting, drawing, writing, gardening, making something, are all ways of expressing aspects of ourselves that we don’t use in our everyday life. Touching this creative energy can bring us home to ourselves.
Cultivate calm. When your mind is calm and centered (a rarity in this day and age!), it is easier to see what is inside of you and what is around you. Your mind becomes like a calm lake on a summer day, reflecting clearly everything that is around it. And, you can see everything that rests on the bottom of the pond.
What helps you come home to yourself?