Freedom has always been one of the main motivators and values in my life. The definition of freedom tends to change, but my desire to be free seems to be written into my DNA, encrypted into my bones and imprinted into my soul.
Lately another meaning for freedom has emerged. I have been musing over the fact that my island escapades of three years were all about the ultimate freedom, until freedom turned into isolation, and space turned into a desert. It got me thinking – what is freedom really, if it’s not sitting on a sandbar watching the sunset with your beloved, and calling it just another Monday night.
And again I want to challenge everything I have, everything I think and everything I believe. I want to start a new search, face my fears again and burn my ego. I want to shed another layer of existence, I want to be free.
Help me and hold my hand
To be more specific, I have started therapy. Real, proper therapy. It takes place in Amsterdam, in a small, quirky house with wooden steps and a front door that opens with a rope. My therapist greets me from the top of the stairs with a smile and an Italian accent, asking me every time what season it is outside. “I haven’t been outside yet, you see.” My therapy takes me to my childhood, from a small room with an old couch, mismatched pillows and a bright orange wall. On the bookshelf behind the therapist I can recognize the book Wild from Sheryl Stray, and I remember reading it in the Philippines. During the afternoon sessions I see crumbled tissues in the bin, somebody else has been crying here too. Somebody else has gone before me.
Everything is an explosion of color and hippy happy, and I wonder if it’s a good idea to be there. At least it seems creative and not overly analytical. Wasn’t that exactly what I was after? A slightly different approach, a slightly different agenda? Bright walls where my emotions can explode onto. What is becoming of this? Why do I want to rip myself open and disappear? Change everything, re-new everything, be re-born and shed my skin?
Because I want to be free.
What is true freedom
In the few sessions I have had I realized that freedom is not so much about lazy Sundays and self-autonomy, it is more about the absence of fear. I am looking for a new level of freedom in which I say YES to life, in which I let myself fully go, in which I dare to show up, stand naked and announce my arrival. A life where I trust that everything has a rhyme and a reason, a purpose and a flow.
Because the freedom I have cultivated has not been much of a freedom at all. It has been freedom the way a prisoner is free. Free of others, free of the demands of life, but isolated and alone. I have been so concerned about autonomy, independence, being brave and being enough, that I have forgotten to learn how to connect. Is it a wonder my business is called reconnect? Who am I trying to reconnect with, if not with myself first.
The freedom I have embraced was the lonely kind. In the end it was about making decisions based on fear, not love. Fear of connection, fear of intimacy, fear of dependency and fear or letting someone see my true self.
Well, it’s time to show up.
Meet my representative
I recently read the book Love Warrior from Glennon Doyle Melton (please, read it!) and among many of her lovely insights she talks about the two versions of ourselves; the Representative, and the True Self. The Representative is the version who knows how to be in this world, to play by its rules and to bring forth the best possible version of ourselves. The Representative is polished, hard and invincible, does not show emotions and functions as a shield under which our true self can hide. Because our true self has feelings, emotions, fears and insecurities. It often finds the ways of the world a bit too harsh, so it rather hides behind the perfect Representative.
Glennon writes that to be loved one must be known. And to truly know someone, you need to meet their True Self, and not just the Representative. The Representative may get respect and admiration from others, but only the True Self can receive love because she is known.
I have been hiding too long behind my Representative. Also because that is the model of existence I received from home. “There is no place for tears, you have to be tough, soldier on and deal with your emotions in your own time.” Which is exactly what I did.
And I called it freedom.
Oh I am so darn independent, aint nobody gonna hold me down!
In the absence of fear
It is only through examining my fears that I am starting to learn what true freedom is all about. It’s about asking difficult questions and not running away. Questions like why is the idea of moving alone to the other side of the world less scary for me than connecting with my loved ones right here right now? Where does this fear live, and how can I let it out?
Because true freedom lives in the absence of fear. But how much can we really live fearlessly? Fear is healthy, right? At least this is what we have been told. But living your life out of fear is not healthy. Making decisions that are based on fear is not healthy.
I want to give all of me in order to reach a place that is true and pure. To be known and loved, to travel through pain in order to arrive to a place called love. To be in love, as Glennon writes, is a place we can enter when we surface from underneath the Representative, when we are brave enough to allow all of us to be seen. That’s where I choose to travel. Into love. And it will be my greatest adventure yet.
And only in love I shall be free.