I’m still me
A few nights ago I was in front of the bathroom mirror thinking about Gwyneth Paltrow* when I had a sudden realisation: I am not her, I am me. I’m me. I’m me! I thought about her in front of her bathroom mirror, being her. I thought about all the time women waste wishing they were more like someone else. I thought about how it doesn’t really matter what you look like anyway. But most of all, I thought: Wow, here I am, in this life, in this body, in charge of myself.
I had the same feeling driving to work the next morning, listening to Muse, in a car that is not an old banger, is full of petrol and if I need any petrol I can just go and buy some; I always have enough money for food, I have the best job I could possibly want, my legs and arms work, I have no serious aches and pains, and despite a wild and careless youth** I have been left with nothing more serious than an occasional cold sore. And, my God, I have my husband. The fact that I have a husband is amazing enough, but my husband is so fucking cool, he lets me be so free that I don’t even recognise myself sometimes.
I thought, how did I get here? How did someone so unconfident get to the top of their career? (I could go a tiny bit higher but it would be hideously boring) How did someone who used to be so frightened that I thought I was going to wet myself on the bus on the way to college, get here?
So, did you reach any conclusions? My husband asked, when I told him about all this. I didn’t have an immediate answer. All I could think was, I made it hard, but I made it interesting. I spent a year doing a millinery course and two years doing a fashion course. I wondered why I didn’t take up writing earlier (because I was too scared to read my stuff out to a class until I was in my thirties). I wanted to go back and say thank you to all those people who helped me.
So, have I reached any conclusions? The only one that really seems to mean anything at all is this: someone must have been looking after me all along, because I really don’t see how I did that journey all by myself.
I am going to say a tiny bit about religion here. I am looking at it, yes. Not because I ‘need to be told how to live my life’ as atheists sometimes sneeringly say about organised religion, but because I want a framework, a method, a route to be closer to God. Yes, in theory, I can remember God just by myself, every minute of every day, but in practice, I forget to remember. That’s what a prayer habit or regular practice of any kind is all about, it’s a cue to remember.
In January, I thought my spiritual journey of the previous five years was over. But unless you get stuck and stay stuck life is a journey… a journey home, a journey to God? Anyway, despite what I thought at the time, my spiritual journey hadn’t ended. I had just paused to look at the view, and to catch my breath.
It’s important that I pause and catch my breath regularly because there are two fears that come up for me. One is the classic, am I going mad? The other is, will it affect my relationship with my husband? Will I find I don’t need him anymore? Will the presence of a third party affect things? If I get into a religion will it end up affecting our lives and relationship so much that we end up breaking up? But as someone who had embraced a religion said: I’m still me. And as my healing teacher told me: you won’t lose yourself, you are in control.
So don’t stay up all night watching you tube clips about people’s religious conversions (I haven’t done this I just know someone who has and know it is an option!). Distract myself with light and frivolous stuff e.g. rom coms and light books that have nothing to do with spirituality or religion. Exercise, sleep and eat right. Look after myself. Whatever I had decided to do before, keep doing it; writing, healing.
Remember that I can love God through loving my husband, the two aren’t mutually exclusive. That’s why religions prescribe charity, because it’s no good just having faith, you have to act on it in your life. My husband is my life.
*I have no idea why it was she who popped into my head
** When I say ‘youth’ read ‘teens, twenties and thirties’