Freedom has always been an elusive concept for me until lately. When I was young I knew I was in a prison of sorts, and was even aware that some of that was within my own mind. I put it down to conditioning, and wrote in my diary that I had to pull the old tape out and put a new one in.
I had a sense that I needed a teacher to help me put a new tape together, but since I couldn’t see one in my world, I decided I’d do it on my own. I didn’t succeed, and I didn’t understand that my decision to do it on my own was about not wanting to trust anybody ever again. I also didn’t know, of course, that I had already dissociated myself from so much of what I’d experienced.
When I was 19 and wanting to leave everything behind, I had come to also believe that there was a geographical component to my experience of imprisonment. Somebody said wherever you go, there you are, but I didn’t have a clue what they were talking about. I was sure by then that my freedom could be found outside of myself, that if I put myself in a different country and continent I’d respond differently to life.
But I didn’t, and the prison that stopped me from experiencing the real quality I yearned for wasn’t geographical. You have to have a healthy enough foundation – in the form of self esteem, entitlement, beliefs, learned behavior, socialization – to be able to go out into the world and build something that doesn’t fall apart.
If you don’t have it, it can seem as if the whole world is against you. I did that for a while, but it only kept me a victim. The only way out – straight is the gate – was to rebuild my foundation, and take it really seriously. That meant facing myself. If you haven’t been born into a family environment where you were protected and nurtured enough that inner freedom developed instinctively, you have to fight for it as an adult.
It’s been a long and often rewarding but sometimes arduous battle but it’s so worth it. My foundation is a lot stronger now. I’ve had more than ten years of being listened to and heard, protected, held, loved, given attention, celebrated, applauded, taught how to put boundaries down, how to listen to and express emotions healthily, how to meet my needs, how to take myself seriously.
I’ve had to play my part, of course. I’ve had to be willing to take it seriously, to face uncomfortable and painful truths, take on demons, re-experience old traumas so I can finish the business and really move on. Bring all of it into my consciousness and see what’s been driving me. You can’t change what you can’t see or you won’t acknowledge.
My self esteem, entitlement and socialization skills have grown as a direct response to that experience, which has been consistent and trustworthy. And the walls of my prison are melting away. As they do, I’m beginning to understand how in a way, freedom has come, partially, from outside of myself in the form of the experience of that all-encompassing unconditional love and teaching I’ve received. But that came to me as a direct response to my inner yearning for it that has burned at me all my life.
Man is not an island.