Tuesday, December 27, 2011

There's No Place Like Home

I watched The Wizard of Oz with my daughter the other night and ever since I have not been able to stop repeating the words: There's no place like home.

At first I thought it was the holiday blues. I would not be seeing my parents or my sisters this holiday. That was part of it. But something else was making those words stick. While my daughter watched an episode of Giada's cooking show (her favorite), I sat in a patch of sunlight on my bed and let myself feel what was welling up inside. There's no place like home. What home? Eventually the tears and the answer came.

I cannot count the number of times I have been told “Don't be so sensitive" or had someone explain away my behavior with the words “Oh, she's just sensitive.” As a child I didn't have permission to feel what I was feeling. I didn't yet know that those words were not about me at all, but about other people's discomfort with what I was feeling. Nor did I have a role model or teacher to show me how to make my sensitivity work for me in the world. So I internalized the word “sensitive” as something negative, something shameful, a weakness that I needed to make go away. Sensitive was what was wrong with me, and if I could only eradicate that part of me, then I could get on much better in life.

"Pelican Shadow"
Photo by Kathleen Keagy
Lately I've been thinking that the reason I have never been able to to eradicate sensitive from my identity is that sensitive is the heart of who I am. It's the gift that I use to hear the words that I write and to see the images that I manifest into my life. My sensitivity has allowed me to find my own path in spite of the pressure around me to be someone else.

When I look at the opportunities I have had in my life, I could chalk them up to what my husband calls "stepping in it." But it's not just good luck. It's my sensitivity to energy. I don't make logical steps. I don't follow a linear path. I feel my way in the dark, sensing if the energy feels true to me, and I leap. And because there is no yellow brick road winding its way between the two locations, it looks like luck. But it isn't. And it isn't as easy as it sounds. It takes courage and strength to follow the bread crumb path when the yellow brick road goes the other way.

Strong and sensitive? The idea perplexes me. For most of my life I have been under the impression that sensitive equals weak. But no where but in my own mind was it written that sensitive and strong could not exist together. It makes me feel like Dorothy when Glinda tells her that she had the power to go home all along. I did? I had the power to see myself as strong all along?

On the one hand, it makes me sad to think that my picture of myself has been so skewed. But maybe my story is a bit more like Dorothy's than I think. When Dorothy asks, puzzled, why Glinda didn't tell her before, Glinda replies, “You had to find it out on your own.” Yes, I had to travel away from myself in order to come back with an appreciation for this home, this person that I have always been. And I find myself repeating with satisfaction those iconic words that accompany Dorothy back to Kansas as I imagine my internal Auntie Em waiting, warm bread in hand, to welcome me back to myself.  

People who know me well have probably told me that I am that strong woman I have always aspired to be. But now I can see it, too. There's no place like home.

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