Reading Jo Garceau's book Knowing Woman has made me think a lot about my past and growing up. It has made me realize that much of my life has been spent sorting through what I know based on my relationship with the Infinite from what others have wanted me to believe. In the process of doing so, I came to realize I was constantly coming to new understandings of my feelings, my understandings, my behaviors, and myself. I came to realize that over time I had allowed others to project images on to me and had internalized them. I had come to believe things about myself that were not true. The more time I dwelt on this I came to realize that this was a time in which I internalized a lot of beliefs about what I could and could not do, what I could and could not be, and what I could and could not believe. So for the next few months, I am going to take some time to go back and re-examine all my beliefs and work on mastering my self-awareness as I constantly work on taking my awareness and understanding of self to a higher level. I am going to be using don Miguel Ruiz's book The Four Agreements Companion Book to guide me on this next phase of my journey.
One of the things I came to understand is that I had some distorted images of myself. Many of these came from my childhood. One thing I remember is how my kindergarten and nursery school teachers would always punish me when i would do self-portraits. I would always paint or color myself with brown skin. They would look at my olive complexion and tell me I had painted myself the wrong color. I was "White, not Black", they would say. My mother would allow me to draw myself however, I wanted to. It was not until a few years later that my mother told me that I was biracial. She told my teachers to let me draw myself however I wanted to A few years ago, shortly before my father died, I learned that my skin had been much darker when I was born and lightened the first 18 months of my life. I guess at some level I remembered that skin tone. Being biracial, I grew up struggling with this conflicted sense of identity. For the longest time, I found myself hating having my pictures taken. In part, this was because what I saw in the pictures did not look like me. I am not sure what I wanted me to look like, but it was not what I was seeing.
I also found myself struggling with this sense of inferiority. I remember a pivotal incident when I was in the little class (3 years old) at nursery school. There was this little boy, whose name was Jess. He tried to kiss me and I said no. He did not like being told no, so he peed on me. I punched him in the stomach and cried. What I remember most was that I had to help mop up his pee and I was suspended from nursery school; Jess was not. In addition to coming to understand that boys were treated differently then girls, I came to believe that all boys named Jess were horrible. This came to haunt me a few years later when my mother gave birth to my second brother and named him Jess. This to me was a sign of the worst thing possible and that I would spend the rest of my life cleaning up his pee. This taught me a lot about what I could and could not do as a girl in this society.
My brothers reactions (they were not adopted) to me being adopted into our family also contributed to my having a distorted image of myself. I remember hearing them tell me numerous times that I was not really a Jacobson – they were, I was not. for the longest time, it made me feel as if I was not really a part of the family. I found myself grappling with this sense of not belonging. I wondered what was so wrong with me that my birth parents had given me up for adoption, that my foster parents could not keep me, and that I had been left to live with this family who annually wanted to remind me that I was “special” and “blessed” to be part of the Jacobson family.
I know that there are other beliefs that are in hiding. But for now these are the ones I have been able to seek out and put in the trash barrel where they belong.