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Home / Articles / Columnists / On the Bright Side /  All you need is love... and about twenty years.
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Friday, December 6,2013

All you need is love... and about twenty years.

By Jonna Shutowick. M.S. Ed.  

Along time ago, I was told by one of my psychology professors that I had some “trouble” w i t h intimacy. It struck me as odd because I’ve always perceived myself as an open person with many good friends and people have always told me how much they valued my friendship. Intimacy issues were not really something I thought applied to me, but on some level his comments struck a chord and I’ve been somewhat tuned into this possibility since.

 

Fast forward twenty-three years, I think I finally get it! In most of my relationships, whether family, work or otherwise, it was often apparent to me that our interactions consistently maintained a safe amount of distance.

It has been my experience as well to acknowledge that recognizing this distance is often a one-way street from my end. Not everyone enjoys examining their inner lives under a microscope. But that is how I’ve always been, so  it was something that was on my radar to try to figure out. Not that I was unhappy, necessarily. I just had this awareness that my public self and my private self were not really meshed and I have always wondered what it would be like to be one ME all the time. I’m working from the assumption that we all feel this way from time to time. And based on the many book titles in the “selfhelp” section of the bookstore, movie titles such as, “Living Out Loud!” and Alanis Morrissette’s amazing lyrics to the song, “That I Would Be Good,” it seems to be part of the human condition. Whether we pay attention to it, or even at what age, is a personal choice.

So, for about the past twenty years I’ve been moderately obsessed with figuring out how to live a truly authentic existence without baring my entire soul to everyone I encounter (as a courtesy, really, to others, as much as to myself). I’ve got plenty of selves, some I like and some I don’t, but I’ve always had difficulty finding one true authentic voice to represent them all. The Me. The real me, complete with all of these other funny little facets of me. Which one was I...... really? As with everything else in life, it takes practice to figure it all out. I’ve attended workshops, weekend retreats, shaman ceremonies, fire and drum circles, sweat lodges... I’ve taken classes, meditated, done yoga and communed with nature... all in search of one true voice that encapsulates my true essence. And as with so many other pursuits in life, it is finally unfolding for me as I approach mid-life. I tell you, this getting older thing has been a joy as far as I’m concerned. I’ll take some gray hairs and a few extra pounds for the amount of wisdom and self-respect that comes with living an examined life. I realized that the reason I had so much trouble identifying which me was the real me was because I didn’t trust the person advising me. (That person being.... ME!) What is happening now is that I am finally beginning to trust myself. I believe that I am a good and valuable human being. Oh, sure, I’ve been wellversed in all such positive selftalk for the better part of three decades, but now I finally actually believe it. I live in the truth of it and also the knowledge that everyone else is equally valuable. Letting go of judgements, grudges, fears... all that negativity, opens up a space for love. And the older I get the easier it gets to love any and all things.

Nothing could have been done differently to make me see it sooner. It is my process. It is everyone’s process. And some of us will get there, others won’t, and others will never care. But if living a genuine, authentic existence is on your bucket list, I recommend two things: curiosity and patience. Curiosity to keep searching, and patience because it is not a process that can be rushed. Only life’s experiences can bring you there. And remember the wise words of Jon Kabat-Zinn, “Wherever you go, there you are.”

 

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