I have spent a large part of my life pretending.
I pretended to be happy when I wasn't. I pretended to be pain-free when I wasn't. I pretended my family life was normal and healthy and safe, which it wasn't.
In fact, I was so good at pretending that I was even able to convince myself that my father was the best father a girl could have! I really believed it!
These days I am learning to be me. It isn't easy. I fall back into pretending quite easily. Or I just withdraw so I do not have to show my feelings or thoughts. But then sometimes, I catch myself doing that. And I become real again.
I practice checking out my feelings. Like right now - I am feeling anxious and sad. I do not know why. I just take one step at a time. One day at a time.
Maureen Brady writes in her book, Daybreak, Meditations for Women Survivors of Sexual Abuse, that she practices in the mirror, "taking a look at my anger, my sadness, my joy. It feels good to say good riddance to pretending."
And in another entry, Ms. Brady writes, "I allow myself to be exactly how I am."