My mother used to say to me, "What happened to my sweet little girl?" I was in my thirties; a very driven, single, working mom with no time to think of the past. I would shrug it off, telling her I didn't know what she was talking about. Then, one day, while looking at old, family photos, I saw her... the little girl from my mother's memory. She had this incredible softness in her face and eyes; sweet was the right word, and I suddenly realized how much I had changed. I really wanted to feel that part of me again; I wanted to be "sweet."
So I went on a quest to find the real me and somewhere along this twenty-year journey, I discovered that life's trauma, drama, hurt, and woes can permanently alter us. Underneath the person we have become, there is another part of our persona that is untouched by our history. It is who we are without the tough exterior, pain, fear, guilt, and old belief systems.
The truth is we all come into the world as awesome beings full of love and potential, but so many of us are terrified to go back to that genuine state of being once we've been hurt. We are afraid because it was that vulnerable part of ourselves that unwittingly 'allowed' for all the pain and trouble in the first place. Instead, we use our memories to build armor; layering every hardship like a sheet of steel that covers our hearts and protects us from any painful impact the future might hold. Then one day we realize how well our strategy worked. We are tougher now, and the pain is gone but, unfortunately, many of our other emotions went with it.
My quandary: To continue to feel numb but stronger for having created my tough exterior, or to let go and feel 'weak' without it...? I realized that being sweet was my goal, not stupid, so I set out to gain some clarity. My reasoning: if I was going to remove the armor I spent so many years fortifying, I needed to understand the word "vulnerability."
Years later, I'm still coming into awareness about the energetic prowess of this state of being. Apparently, when it comes to self-protection, we humans have it all wrong. Allowing ourselves to be vulnerable is not a weakness; it's our greatest strength! And we aren't children anymore; that past we have been using as a shield has also fortified us with wisdom and awareness. We are smarter and more in tune with what is good, bad, right, and wrong. If we could allow ourselves to be as loving and vulnerable as a child while using our adult ability to soulfully discern... well, that is when we tap into ethereal power and acquire the greatest spiritual order of protection we can possibly achieve!
About being sweet... perhaps the most profound realization that came from my mother's question to me was that we don't journey to authenticity; we journey back. What we all seem to be looking for is not in our future; it can be obtained right now! It is not out there; it is in here--in our hearts--the organ we have been protecting for so long. This knowingness comforts me because our transition only relies on one decision: to believe more in the power of our love than we do in the power of our fear.
Nowadays I carry a sword of truth and a shield of love, walking into my days feeling fully protected from everything, including myself. I wonder, though, why any of us would ever come to doubt the power of love. Even crazier, I wonder why we spend so much time changing into someone else when all we really have to do to live our lives beautifully is to just be ourselves.