Crystal Clear

crystal clear

I got sidetracked looking at old scrapbooks and photos recently while I was in the middle of more spring cleaning. It was so heartwarming to look at the smiles and happy times in photographs from treasured moments with family and friends. My little foray, in fact, lasted a few hours.

There were pictures of me as a daughter, sister, aunt, friend, wife, mother, and nurse. Each role I played, each hat I wore, each layer that made up me, was captured with a smile on my face (mostly).

But as I looked at the pictures, I felt like I was lost in them, hidden somewhere under protective armor, shielded behind a pair of safety goggles that distorted my vision and kept me where I thought I needed to be — playing the parts I thought I was supposed to play in perfect succession according to a timeline in my life.

Make no mistake, I cherish each role I play and wouldn’t change a thing. I know they all make me who I am, but sometimes I feel like I have gotten so caught up in what I am supposed to do in each role, how I am supposed to act, how I am supposed to feel, that the original person deep inside has disappeared.

And I really don’t know if she exists anymore.

Truthfully, I have morphed into a conglomeration of parts that on cue emerge and behave as they are supposed to, in order to fit an intended purpose. I don’t think there is necessarily anything wrong with that, but sometimes I wonder who is underneath it all.

I thought about those old photographs as I looked in the mirror this morning at my own blue eyes reflecting back at me. And I thought about what it would feel like to peel away all of my layers, to shed each role, leaving a virtual heap of my “skins” on the floor at my feet.

Would I recognize the person left standing there; a blank canvas, stripped of her colors down to her core, wearing nothing but her original birthday suit?

Would I even know her?

Stunned, I gazed at the foggy image staring back at me in the mirror. It was so out of focus, I could barely discern that it was me at all.

Who is that? I wondered.

Then I realized that through all those photographs, through all those captured moments that I looked back on, I had been emerging all along. A work in progress, growing and changing with depth and complexities, rich in color and texture, each layer an addition more beautiful than the last… only acquired through being someone another person needs.

At that moment my image became crystal clear. And I smiled at who I saw.

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48 thoughts on “Crystal Clear

  1. Love this piece, Kelly. Identity is ever evolving and fluid, which can be disconcerting and yet it allows us to navigate possibilities and constantly create our lives. We are always in a state of becoming. There is mystery, beauty, and freedom in that. πŸ™‚

  2. Oh I love the conclusion you came to Kelly! ❀
    Diana xo

  3. A perfect conclusion, Kelly. You needed that, all of it, to become the loveliness that we know today. πŸ’˜

  4. What a beautiful description of a transformation that I feel sometimes when I look in the mirror…who am I? But the end conclusion is what really inspires me! Wonderful post Kelly! πŸ™‚

    • I feel like this all the time when I’m pulled in so many different directions. And sometimes I forget how much people in my life need me… it sounds egotistical to say that, but it’s true because I know how much I need them!
      Thanks for the visit, Linda! xo

  5. Realizing that there are layers is the most profound insight of all! After so many years wearing layer over layer to fulfill needs or expectations it takes a while to take them off again. But that is actually the exciting time of liberation and discovering ourselves completely new. We would have never treasured what we discover if we had never hidden it!

    • And as women, at least speaking for myself, following a “logical order” in acquiring those layers was ingrained in me. I’m not complaining about the paths I chose, but feel happy I guess that the “order” has become more relaxed with respect to time frames. Perhaps marrying later and having kids later is a good thing that enables more confidence in decisions… I wonder if that would help with mid-life crises some people experience due to feeling like they’ve spent so much time in the roles they play… it’s like they need to burst out and be themselves again or something!
      In any case, the subject of selflessness and its virtues and feeling content as an individual are delicate areas requiring a lot of give and take, I think.
      Thank you for your thoughts, Erika! xo

      • OMG they are so delicate and I as many people there are as many different stories about it exist. My sister in law had kids around 40. But to me that appeared as the real mid-life crisis regarding the way she deals with her mother role… I had kids with 25 and found my way to myself in my mid 30s and then learned to let them be who they are… anyway, every path is unique. And that is the crucial point. Like you I don’t regret a single thing because it made me get to the point where I am today. Realizing that everybody would deal a lot better with their past and with accepting who they are and how they became they are…. lol… I hope that all makes sense… haha. Sorry, that was so inspiring that I became a waterfall. I think if we sat with each other we would chat for ours now… πŸ˜„ It is an amazing topic you brought up! Thank you so much!

      • You make perfect sense. I think you’re so right about every path being unique just like the person is. I am glad, though, that pressures within a certain time frame with things like marriage and kids are more relaxed now. Marriage as an institution is changing! Hopefully the changes in those norms will result in happier people.
        Definitely could exchange thoughts on this for a long time with you! Thank you! xo

      • I think exactly the same. I felt no pressure about marrying but I don’t know if I would do it again if I was 23 today…. in the end it is a bond between two people. I love your thoughts too and always enjoy your insightful posts, Kelly! Have a lovely rest of your day 😊

  6. Beautiful! I think you’re right — we’re all mutts!

    • lol That’s the truth! Not only in all the roles we play, but in the fact that we share 99.9% of our DNA with everyone… including dogs!
      Great to see you, Elyse! πŸ™‚

  7. a metamorphosis –

  8. profound but accessible, as always. πŸ™‚

  9. Beautifully written. Yes, I sometimes look at the mirror and wonder who I am now….. and like you I look at old pictures and I am reminded of how many lives I have been involved in, and the memories are wonderful! (Sometimes I don’t feel like how I look now though ha!) Diane

  10. A work in progress, until the end. Beautifully written!

  11. Your lost reminds me of the words of Heraclitus…no man ever steps into the same river twice for it is not the same river and he is not the same man. Evolution and ever changing.

    • That’s a lovely quote, George. So imaginative. Yes, everything is always changing. The Greek philosophers had the answers to the big questions, didn’t they? Thank you for this thoughtful comment. I hope you have a good night. πŸ™‚

  12. Kelly, you have voiced something many women – and men too, I suppose
    – have wrestled and come to terms with. I find blogging has helped me tremendously with my own feelings and need for expression of my individuality, and one of the reasons I find it hard to abandon. 😊

  13. This is lovely. I’ve had thoughts like this myself recently. I love how you come around to the conclusion that the purpose for it all was your emergence. Paints our transformation over the years in a positive light vs. a more depressing one.

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