For probably ten years I’ve been trying to find my gut. To listen to my voice. To figure out what guides my intuition. I had become such a doormat of a people pleaser that I truly did not know where my voice was or how to esteem myself.

The more I read about following my heart, my passion, and knowing what I want from life the more disgruntled I became. Because I couldn’t find myself I wondered if it was all bunk. Is there a voice that guides us? I have about a hundred, it seems.

But I do believe I have a soul, a core, and an internal voice and that it is me. I just got so separated from that person. In the quest to find him I filled in the blanks as best I could. And what resulted were that I listened to the voices of others. Of my father and my ex-wife mostly. And of society at large, or how I interpreted it which was to represent the opposite of myself because that’s how estranged I felt from reality.

I felt so poorly about myself that I figured whatever I believed/thought/felt must be pretty much the opposite of the truth. How awful is that? It comes from being different. I generally don’t agree with the status quo. I don’t watch football. I don’t understand organized religion. I don’t believe the hype. I play mandolin and own a brewery. There are many arguments that I self-identify with what I am NOT, and have never really moved passed my teenage years in that respect, but in truth, I just like things that are not typical.

Anyway, being different was a source of much ridicule and bullying in my youth and I still let those voices creep in. Those societal voices tell me that I am not good enough. I am different and therefore lesser than others or just plain bad. So when I try to find myself, and remember I am different, I hear the voices of society calling me names and making fun of my interests.

I hear my father telling me to walk the talk and to stop complaining about being different. He told me it was a choice and I have to live with the consequences of my actions. True enough, but his teachings also made me feel inferior because I couldn’t just do it ‘right’. Also, my ex-wife constantly berating me for believing I could enjoy my career or disagree with people doesn’t help. She constantly reminded me that I was different and therefore not good enough.

Society and my family have taught me that being different is uncomfortable at best and a big problem at the worst. I learned that my needs and ideas, being different, created discomfort for others and that I was therefore bad for being me. So, yeah, I sort of lost my self. And even now, as I try to rediscover myself, I have a huge arsenal or reasons why myself is not something I necessarily want to find.

So when I want to make a decision, or find my source, or focus inward, I hear a chorus of competing voices along with my own. The old believes come at me in the form of other voices to preserve themselves and prevent me from finding my true self. As someone who avoids conflict I am barraged by it when I do something as simple as making a decision about what kind of drill bit to buy.

The ghosts of my past still haunt me and distract me from being myself. Personal growth ain’t easy and this is an example of that struggle. Changing old beliefs is hard because they want to live, to be heard, and not to be replaced.

I wish I could understand how all this happened and go back in time. I wish I could have not lost myself, or to not have believed the hype, the other voices. I wish I could have been stronger. But I was weak and let them in. Now I need to let them back out.

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