Of all I have ever wanted, no matter where I was, I have always wanted to be free. To feel it. Know what I mean?
I want freedom but first I had to learn what freedom means. How can freedom exist, and, furthermore, is it possible to live and be free but still feel confined somehow, as if there was something or some kind of invisible restraint that only I can see or feel?
Everyone wants to be free; as in to be free of personal persecution and free of mental, physical or emotional restraint.
Everyone wants to be free to be themselves, with no restrictions, just to be able to walk down the street, not hiding anything, not acting, “Just being.”
I was told a story of someone I knew a few decades ago. He was older. He always wore a hairpiece. He was on vacation somewhere with his wife on an island that was far away from their New York home. They were elsewhere and away from anyone they knew. They were far from the business world he lived in and far from the prying eyes of people they knew. His wife suggested that he remove his hairpiece before they went to the beach.
“Nobody knows you here,” she explained.
“Nobody is paying attention either,” she told him.
“Plus, nobody is going to care.”
He agreed, uncomfortably, but still, he agreed enough to shed himself of his hairpiece. Next, they went to the beach. They went in the water together, which is something they never did. They never did this because he was always worried about his hairpiece and the way he looked. Instead, he decided to pardon his personal appearance and simply be happy.
His wife told others about their experience. “It was like he was able to enjoy himself,” she said. “He was uncomfortable at first. But eventually, he let go.”
Although, luckily and thankfully, I have a full head of hair; I can relate to the feeling of feeling “Uncovered” so to speak.
I can relate to the idea of needing or wearing a mask, “Just because,” and finding something to hide behind simply because of an insecurity of a so-called flaw or my perception of my flaws.
When thinking about my own freedom, I had to first be clear and define how I have imprisoned myself, which I have, and which most of us have, at least in some way.
I came to a decision that before I understand freedom, I had to also understand my prison. I had to learn what my prison is. I had to understand my personal confinement, which is not limited to me by my surroundings, but more than anything; I had to learn about the ways I imprisoned myself and that, in fact, I was not only my own prisoner but I am also the warden as well.
To be imprisoned: to be confined, kept in, or to be limited or restricted by a physical, emotional or mental enclosure.
I am reminded now of words I heard, years back, about “The bondage of self,” or more accurately to, “Forgive me from the bondage of self.” I was thinking of what it means to be forgiven, or better yet, to pardon one’s self, as if all of our regretful yesterdays would no longer exist; to wipe the slate clean, to start over, or to start from scratch, but more importantly, to be relieved of all our yesterday’s guilt and burdens. Yes, I think this is what it means to be free.
I believe freedom begins when we relieve us from the concepts of our flaws or mistakes and past violations. Freedom begins with acceptance. I think freedom begins as soon as we decide to allow ourselves to heal from self-inflicted wounds and self-destructive behavior.
I was told by a friend about his life and about the day he openly discussed himself. He “Came out” so to speak, because he couldn’t live the way he lived, closeted and alone, never able to be “Him.” Although his case is unique to his life, I say we all have our closeted truths. I say we all have things we hide (or feel we have to).
I think it is summed best when regarding the words of Mark Twain, who said “Man is the only animal that blushes. Or needs to.” I think we hold ourselves to inaccurate and unrealistic standards, which creates a stir within us. I say this creates a fear. I say this creates the worry of rejection and unsteadiness of exposure, because of course, God forbid; we are seen as human or mortal, or even worse, imperfect.
I think freedom begins when we remove us from the restraints of our fear and free ourselves from the inaccurate and unrealistic ideas that we “Have” to be a certain way. I say that freedom begins once we relieve us from this pressure. I say that freedom is not the absence of struggle or strife. Freedom is the absence of personal persecution.
I say freedom begins the day we decide to forget the masks we hide behind and the life we pretend to have. Freedom is the acceptance of time and truth; whether good or bad and it is the accountability of self without the constant restraint of regret.
And where does this fit with depression or anxiety?
How does this tie in with mental health and wellness?
Or further, how can this change our lives for the better?
How can we step away from a life that we’ve lived in for so long, either forced or coerced, and walk away from a life that we taught ourselves to live and endure and pass this off as “The way we want to be” when actually, we’ve always wished for something (or someone) else?
In all honesty, there is no braver action than for one to be their true self, regardless to fears or insecurity. To openly “Be” is what it means to be free. To be unmoved by personal persecution and unaffected by external nonsense; This, my friend, is what it means to be free.
To be free is to abandon myself from the cage I once held myself in, which, admittedly, is uncomfortable in the beginning. For me to be free, I have to unlearn the inaccurate ideas that I believed were facts. I have to allow myself to be me, to be human, and realize that being who I am is not only perfectly fine, but being me, I am perfectly adequate and perfectly capable of being successful, exactly the way I am, — which is imperfectly perfect.
Freedom is real. We just have to get away from our own trials and learn that as the warden to our personal prison, we can free us at any time. The problem we have is when we become comfortable in our own prison, or stuck with Stockholm syndrome, and then we resign to the idea that this is the best we can ever be.
I disagree with this and reject the above idea of forced comfort like a cancer. I reject this because I have to. The best we can ever be is free, which is why I look to define this because above all things, I am nothing if I am not free to be me.