The Comfortable Confines of Identity by Cylvia Hayes



One of the hardest aspects of being publically shamed was losing control of my own sense of self-identity.  I had viewed myself as a hard working, deeply committed advocate working every day to try to make things a little better for the environment and people struggling with poverty.  I thought of myself as fairly effective, flawed but basically a good person.  I knew I had worked really hard to get to where I was in life.

And then, BOOM!  I was simply unprepared for the horror of having that identity torn apart and replaced with a one-dimensional, ugly caricature, a me I didn’t recognize.  It shook me to my core and ripped open deep knife wounds of self-examination and criticism.

In the most agonized moments of pain and humiliation I even found myself wondering if the disgraceful image of me, created by click-hungry reporters was accurate.  Who was I really?

The first important answer came during a particularly powerful meditation.  My mind stilled, the fear and anger eased to a point I hadn’t experienced in weeks.  In that stillness I could sense Spirit, could feel the subtle connection between my one small life and the vast, beautiful mystery of life in the big sense.  I touched my deeper, more powerful self, my I Am.

A few weeks later, still reeling, but having many times brushed against the powerful calmness of the I Am, it dawned on me that I still was everything I’d been before being publically dismantled.  I was still a lover of and fighter for this miraculous, small blue planet.  I was still a writer and speaker, a messenger.  Whatever talents and skills, whatever flaws I’d had before were still within me.

Realizing that I was still all of who I’d been, led me to consider that perhaps I was even much more.  What if, by clinging so desperately to the identity I’d crafted and was comfortable with, I was actually limiting my “becoming”?

This past year has indeed been one of becoming – becoming more self-aware, more compassionate and loving; slowing down and becoming kinder.  I cannot see where it is headed, truly a work in progress.  It is scary and uncertain but just in the past few weeks I feel a sense of anticipation.

Recently, on several mornings I woke unusually early, ahead of the alarm, and could not go back to sleep.  As I lay there in the warmth and soft darkness, listening to the deep, calm breathing of the big dog stretched beside me, I realized something profoundly hopeful.  For the first time in a year, I couldn’t get back to sleep not because I was stressed and fearful, but because I was excited about what was happening in my life and what was to come.

​I am most grateful for this step in healing and moving forward.   I can’t describe myself as readily as I could a year ago and in that I sense something deeply powerful and beautiful, a beckoning to become more.

​Cylvia Hayes

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