Remember science class? The teacher was guaranteed to have some reptile or amphibian in a tank along the wall and maybe even those shiny little stars on the ceiling. No matter what school you went to, you know damn well the room wreaked of dead frogs soaking in formaldehyde and a laminated periodic table would present itself on some bulletin board.
Science was never my favorite subject, but I did enjoy one aspect of it: Earth Science. In Earth Science we learned all about the different layers of the Earth. We learned that, generally speaking, this big ball of world we sit on right now can be broken into the following layers: the crust, the mantle, the outer core, and the inner core.
As some of you may know, six months ago I began a journey of "self discovery". Cliche AF, right, but I have genuinely been dedicated to it since then. And you know what I've learned? I'm even more fucked up than I thought when I originally set out on this little quest.
because just like the earth we live on, each human being contains layers. When we are born, we have no protection. We are naked and open to all the joys and terrors this world has to offer. Thus the expression "childlike innocence." With time and new experiences we begin to add outer layers, some as a sense of protection and some with natural growth, until our core becomes invisible to the naked eye.
The deeper we get into learning about ourselves, the closer we get to the core of who we truly are and our issues. But first we have to get through the outer layers. And that takes work. Plus, most people would agree that the crust of the earth is a beautiful place. Who the hell wants to take a trip to the boiling center of the earth when they could hang out in Fiji or Yosemite? Things are good up here on the surface, so let's just stay, right? Wrong.
I can't speak to anyone else's journey, but I've been able to break my own personal layers of issues so far down to this:
Crust: "I cannot maintain a healthy relationship." In fact, I don't even know what one looks like to know how to maintain it.
This one was pretty easy for me to identify. I have a nice resume of people I could point to who would gladly vouch for this fact because all of my relationships have failed in one way or another. Some can be chalked up to the wrong person, some can be blamed on circumstance and some are just downright abusive, but the pattern remains the same. Issue identified. So then the question becomes, why?
Mantle: "I have abandonment issues."
Daddy issues. What millennial hasn't uttered those words at one point or another? This one was a sore spot for me for a while, but it has become a more comfortable topic for me. My parents divorced when I was ten, my dad left. My mother entered into a serious relationship with a man for seven years. He left. My house in Florida was home one minute and the next it was sold. Friends, girlfriends, even boyfriends, have all left. And hey, people leave, that's life. But boy will it leave a girl with a deep fear of abandonment in the process if not addressed properly.
This is the stage I have been stuck on for years. And for years I would reach this subcutaneous level and stop. Maybe because I was afraid of what was beneath the surface or maybe because I didn't even know I could go any deeper. Regardless, when I reached this point in the past, I'd find another relationship to distract myself with and dive back in, each time, burying everything I had just learned about myself and rising right back up to the top layer, the crust.
Well this time, I didn't distract myself with another relationship. This time I chose to keep digging. And you know what? There's a whole other layer down there that I've found.
Outer core: "I feel unworthy of love."
This is the new one. Most people who know me can tell you I am a generally confident person, and that's true I am. So why do I cringe when my friend tells me that I am worthy of love. Why do I cry when Lauren Daigle sings "what have I done to deserve love like this"? Why am I drawn to people who don't treat me the way I allege I deserve to be treated?
The answer is simple: because deep down I don't believe I am worthy of love. And THAT is an issue.
No matter who has left you, rejected you, hurt you, neglected you, bullied you, lied to you or torn you down - you. are. worthy. of. love. That is something I will tell my children and something I wish every person would tell themselves every day. And right now, it's something I am having to remind myself of every day.
The other day someone I had grown close to told me I had too high of expectations from them. I replied that "my expectations are equivalent to my value." And for the first time in my life, I believed it.
Traversing this area of my outer core is not fun, frankly. Waking dreams of things I had long since forgotten and a, hopefully temporary, state of insomnia are some of the side effects. But damn, is it worth it.
This one is blank because to be honest I have no idea what the next level of self revelation will be for me. And I hope I never stop learning.
So, to everyone else out there on their own journey of self realization and reflection, don't stop when you reach a certain layer. There is more to discover.