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Discovering the Secrets We Hide From Ourselves (Or, I’m Turning 45 and It’s Freaking Me Out!)

This is part of an on-going series about secrets, truth-telling, and my boyfriend being in prison. The essays that follow are a raw, open, deliberate look at life lived and liberated. And occasionally just a touch uncensored.

A guy I dated a few years ago took prescription meds to help him sleep and I thought that was a very bad idea. Why? Because by day he was frustrated with his work life, and he would constantly say that he wasn’t “living the dream”.

I told him that knocking himself out with a sleeping pill would forever stop him from figuring out what his dream even is, not to mention getting uncomfortable enough with the status quo to ever go after it.

But guess who was – just a few short weeks ago – sleepless, angst-ridden, and downing over-the-counter sleep aids?

Um, yeah. (Me.)

What the hell was going on?? I asked myself once I remembered what I’d told him.

What’s the message here? What’s the truth of why I’m feeling this way?

All the answers I came up with – the weather, living with my sister in a house that needs a lot of repairs, my man being in prison, having the soul of an artist, but needing to work – seemed to make a basic sort of sense, but not answer the question completely.

That’s the tricky part of dissecting your inner landscape to uncover the truth. Your mind will interrupt your search with all sorts of fancy, reasonable-seeming ideas.

Oh, it’s just been cloudy for a long time. Of course you’re feeling this way, it’s hard to live with other people. All artists struggle with everyday life, this is actually a badge of honor that you feel this way! Your boyfriend’s in prison (gasp!) of course you’re feeling wobbly.

But one strange truth I found out many months ago is that I secretly sometimes like him being in prison. He’s away, but he’s here, if you get what I mean. Being alone, but with someone is a very different feeling than all those years of wondering if true love was ever going to come my way.

So, privately, a part of me has been relishing my alone time, sleeping with the shades up so I can see the stars, with no one snoring beside me.

Not having to pay attention to anyone but myself.

And what about those sunny days when I’m cranky and miserable?

Yeah, exactly.

There was another message under all the obvious ones. In fact, there is always a deeper voice trying to come through, but it’s almost always going to clash with your ideas about things.

So I kept seeking, uncovering new layers – like, Oh, I really need to be asleep by 10 p.m. to feel rested in the morning! And following my soul desires to sit in the woods or read novels in bed in the morning.

Which is what led me to realize, as I opened the third book in week where the main female character was wrestling with her dawning middle age, that, Wait a damn second, there’s something here for me.

Because I chose those books at the library. I don’t remember choosing books with the theme of middle age, not consciously at any rate. But there it was, last night, staring me straight in the face.

I’m turning 45 this summer. And it’s freaking me out a little bit.

I feel terrific, my life is interesting, I’m involved in work that’s of my own design. And nobody even thinks I’m the age that I am, including me. So it wasn’t that obvious.

But it’s something that my subconscious has been dealing with, unbeknownst to my thinking mind.

It was like being struck by lightening, when this realization hit me where I sat propped up in bed, under a yellow striped comforter, with the lamp lit and dogs barking in the distant countryside.

I woke up to this truth very all of a sudden.

It made me think about a play I saw in the East Village years ago, where there was a voiceover that played throughout, saying, Wake up. Wake up.

I suddenly woke up to the truth of what is really going on with me.

Turning 45 means dreaming new dreams. It means saying good-bye to old dreams. Or turning and grabbing on hard to those near-dying dreams and trying to bring them back to life.

Am I wanting a baby? Could I even have a baby at this point? I’ve been pregnant twice, do I really not regret those abortions? What about those dreams of speaking foreign languages? Should I have done more with that? What about those manuscripts I’ve been carting around for decades, but never published?

Is it too late? Do I even care?

All the crossroads of my life kept swimming into view, as I imagined taking a different path, choosing something different.

And I realized that doing this work – this heart-pounding, doubt-inducing, emotional, ambivalent, unsettling inner seeking – is the hallmark of change. It’s how the bell is rung, signaling the advent of a new chapter.

It’s not pleasant, and it’s not pretty and it’s definitely not clear … but somehow knowing what the truth is of what I’m dealing with is galvanizing. It’s relieving to understand what the hell is actually going on here.

And with that knowledge came a lifting of my grubby mood, because it had done its work and gotten my attention.

In fact, just now, as I walked down the stairs to make myself a late morning cup of coffee I heard my mind say, “Life is good!”

So where in your life are you uncomfortable? Angry? Sad? Mournful? Hungry for more?

Sink into it. Excavate the layers for the deepest, most hidden meaning.

We tend to be scared of the truth before we let ourselves see it. But once you allow yourself access to what you don’t even know that you know, it’s pure freedom. And that always feels really, really good.

*                        *                       *

Want more freedom from your dark secrets & access to your juicy hidden depths?

The courage to get bold with yourself and others in truth-telling?

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Juicy Secrets, Dark Secrets & the Sweet Freedom of Fierce Truth-Telling (Even When You’re Scared As Hell!)

Wednesday, June 21st

8pm ET/5pm PT

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