BY: Debbie Arace – “Ray of Sunshine, Hope & Laughter”
What I love about storytelling is it offers me an opportunity to unveil myself in a humorous, insightful, healing way. It frees me from the bonds that have tried to hold me down my entire life. Writing has become my passage to freedom. A way to remove the shackles of fear. It is a freeing of my spirit that says: “This is me”. Take me or leave me but know that I am here to stay. At least that is until God says otherwise.
As I remove my shackles, I realize that life is a masquerade party. At one time or another, we all hide underneath costumes and behind masks, afraid to reveal our true identity.
I was convinced that I knew who I was. No need for me to hide behind anything. I wore no coverup. If people saw me a certain way it was because they dressed me in a costume of their choice, not mine. All they had to do was look inside to see the real me. The problem was, I did hide. I hid behind masks of my own doing.
I had denied my birthright. The freedom to be me. I was afraid to show my true self. Afraid that people would reject me. That I wouldn’t measure up to them. I felt alienated in my own world. Abandoned. Lost. Confused. I was less than adequate because I didn’t do what I saw others doing. They were living. I was existing, in a world, I didn’t fit into. I had no direction. No real guidance. No confidence. The lack of self-esteem that I felt caused me to run and hide. Alone and afraid, I found myself living in a darkened room searching for light. Looking for a place where I could be me. Where I could shed my own light. I felt emotionally orphaned. I needed a home, a family, and friends that would understand what I was going through. The “Fear Family” found me. They took pity upon me. Worry and Rejection were the matriarch and patriarch of this family. They understood what I was feeling and offered to adopt me. Finally, someone knew what I was going through. Without hesitation, I allowed them to take me as their own.
Most people are only fostered by “The Fears”. Their stay is short. They realize that they are strong enough to make it on their own. They part ways with “The Fears” but promise to return when necessary. Not me. No. I wanted to live with “The Fears” forever. I felt secure with them. I felt safe. I was protected. Worry and Rejection kept me from getting hurt.
“The Fears” had many children but I became very close to the triplets: Suspicion, Caution, and Anxiety. They became my best friends. They looked out for me, protecting me, and warning me about the dangers of meeting new people. I believed everything they told me. There was just one problem. I wanted to meet people. I liked observing people at a distance. So many of them made me interested in getting to know them. Every time I got up enough nerve to introduce myself to someone new, the triplets, along with Worry and Rejection, would remind me of the consequences of meeting people. Despite what they said, I began to take chances and go out on my own.
Suspicion, Caution, and Anxiety followed me whenever I ventured out. Anxiety would run ahead of me, followed by Suspicion and then Caution. Suspicion carried red flags with her. She told me to use them as markers. Some people were not meant to be trusted. I’d know when I’d find them. When I did, I should place a red flag on them. She was right about several people I met. They had agendas. They would want something that I had. Out of their own insecurities, they would try to hurt me. That’s when Caution would step in. I watched those that I placed a red flag on like a hawk. I discovered who I could trust and who was not to be trusted. I became very aware of the intentions they had. I learned later on that it was really God who had enlightened me to the struggles that those flagged by me, were going through. This insight allowed me to put my fears and ego aside, by learning to forgive. That forgiveness gave me strength.
I lived with “The Fears” for what seemed a lifetime. I began to realize that despite the security I felt living with “The Fears”, I knew that it wasn’t a healthy environment. More and more I ventured away from them. That’s how I met up with Faith. Faith reminded me that I belonged to God and that He would always be there for me. His love offered freedom, whereas “The Fears” offered a false sense of security. I enjoyed being with Faith. She was honest, loyal and giving. I felt alive in her presence. I could be the real me around her. She encouraged me to go out and meet people. To take chances. People were there to teach me, to love me. I was here to teach and love as well. All I needed was to take Faith with me.
The more people I met the more I understood how detrimental living with “The Fears” had become. I emancipated myself from ” The Fears”. Naturally, Worry and Rejection tried to warn me of dangers that could hurt me and the triplets tried to hold me back. I assured them that Faith would be my guide. She would bring me closer to God, to peace, to fulfillment. As much as I loved all the protection “The Fears” had given me it was time to move on. I thanked them for taking me in, for trying to do what they thought was best for me. They knew they couldn’t hold me back even, though they tried. I told them I did not wish to ever come back but if they wanted they could visit from time to time. I just wouldn’t offer them a permanent stay.
In retrospect, I understand the importance of living with “The Fears”. They made me see that there is so much more to life than just them. There was a whole world out there. A total Universe that I am part of. The Creator of all this beauty had also created me. He/She (I refer to my Creator as Him) gave me the freedom to be me. With Him there is no need for any costume, any mask. There is no need for me to hide. He knows the real me and He gave me permission to shine like the stars in the universe. I may be a little light in comparison but I can still shine as me.
Faith taught me about risk. Taking risks that matter. I take risks every day by exposing myself (not naked risks, I wouldn’t do that to the world, besides there’s already a full moon filled with craters in the universe ha, ha). There has to be humor in life. I take risks in revealing my struggles in hopes of helping others with their own struggles. We are all here to be ourselves, to be free, to learn, to encourage, to love. It is because of Faith in God that I find myself writing at this stage in my life. I took the risk of meeting people, of unveiling myself, and of letting people in. Because of that release of fear I met the woman that God placed in front of me to bring my writing into the world. Thank you Janis, for the opportunity for me to shed my light.
I encourage you to shed your own light. We each have a journey filled with ups and downs. That’s part of life. The part we play in it depends on whether we choose to live with fear or with faith. The choice is ours. The rewards are worth the risk of living with Faith. ️
Married 44 years to my hubby whose purpose in life is to prevent me from getting through the “Pearly Gates”. Mother of two, Nanna of four loving granddaughters and retired secretary aka administrative assistant. I went to the University of Hard Knocks where I received my Doctorate. My thesis is titled: How To Survive Life’s Trials Without Killing Yourself or Someone Else. I live by the belief that when life throws you a curve, learn from it rather than use it against yourself. Faith and humor are my survival kit. Appreciate the simple things for they are the true treasures of life.