It took me twenty-five plus years to let go of belief systems that weren’t working for me.
I was raised in a bit of a bubble, and have really only recently started to realize the implications of life on the inside. No one from my parents to grandparents to teachers, etc., ever wanted anything but the best for me, and partially because of this, I was bubble-ized from a very early age.
Granted, everyone grows up in a bubble. And that’s part of the beauty of the human experience. We all have ingrained biases based on our upbringing, our culture, and how we’ve been taught—or taught not—to think about the world.
Some bubbles are more harmful or beneficial than others, and there are pluses and minuses to all of them. Growing up poor can suck; growing up poor can also give you an unflappable sense of self-reliance and gratefulness. Growing up religious can instill massive amounts of shame and guilt; growing up religious can also help ground you in loving community.
The point is, for many of us—the more introspective, let’s say—the sum of our upbringing isn’t enough. Now, this isn’t an indictment of our parents or caregivers. In fact, I hope to raise my girls to be introspective. I’m humble enough to admit that as much as I love them, I am not a perfect parent, nor am I a perfect human. (I often jest that the greatest investment a parent can make in their child is pre-paying for therapy when they are adults).
I had a great childhood, no question. But there are radioactive isotopes lingering around in my adulthood that just have to go. And fear is a big one.
Fear that I can’t measure up.
Fear that if I wander it means I’m lost.
Fear that I don’t belong.
Fear that I have to conform.
Fear that if I let go of the “essentials,” I’ll be adrift in the universe.
Fear that I will lose friendships if I admit who I really am.
Fear that the gods are angry.
Most of my fear has revolved around religion. I was brought up in a church environment that desperately “defended” the faith.
Questions were dangerous.
Doubt was sin.
Unbelief was damnation.
That didn’t work so well for me.
Some of it got ejected like a fighter pilot in free fall.
Most of it got released like a curler releases the rock.
(Hat tip to the brilliant Bill Burr for the brilliant analogy)
Breath in that freedom with me now.