Just As I Am

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Have you ever been made wrong for who you are?
For what you want to do with your life?
For just being you?

Some years back just after I had bought my now-legendary little black porsche, I met up with my parents to go to dinner and a concert. I was a successful young woman working in high technology making a great salary and on top of my world. Owning and driving that porsche made my wild child happy!

We had arrived in two cars, so after the concert I offered to drive my mom back so she could go for a spin in my porsche. As she and I walked out to the parking structure laughing and joking, my dad looked over at the car with an odd look on his face and asked, You can drive that car? He seems truly confused and puzzled. Like he just could not compute that I could possibly have the skill or knowledge to drive a fast car.

Suddenly years of patterns clicked into focus. You see my father was raised in a generation in which he was taught that men were kings of their households and women were helpless and incapable of doing anything a man could do. And driving that porsche was a man’s job. His brain could not make sense of what I was doing; his belief system had no room for me.

This was why every single time I pushed his boundaries around the way he thought the world worked, he came down on me like a ton of bricks. I clearly had no sense of my place in the world or any understanding of my own capabilities as a female. And he made sure I knew how wrong I was on all these points. I was a girl and therefore the answer was always no. End of discussion. If I pushed back, he got very, very angry and that was scary.

His making me wrong translated, in my childhood brain, into making who I was as a person, a female, and a human wrong. Wanting to grow up to be an artist was wrong. Wanting to do what my brothers did was wrong. Being strong and confident was wrong. Being a wild woman was wrong. Owning a racy car was wrong.

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Snake Detail, by Annette Wagner

It felt like there was this narrow path I had to walk so I didn’t hit the edges of wrong-ness. The pattern ingrained itself into me like an under-the-skin radar system. In fear of wrongness, I began to justify my existence, my wants, my choices. To apologize for what and who I was. Sound familiar?

Worse, I walked on eggshells and then when I fell into wrong-ness, I backpedaled and tried to fix things up so I wasn’t wrong (again). I made nice with whoever had made me wrong so he wouldn’t get angry at me (again).

I even married a man who made me wrong for everything in his life. That was the proverbial straw that made me take notice of this pattern and how I engaged in it. I had grown into myself as a confident, strong woman and there was a part of me that was DONE banging my elbows and heart on the edges of that narrow path. Way done.

Perhaps you have experienced living this story in your life? I hope not, but life is neither simple or easy. Its rich, complex and has lots of different flavors like a really good dark chocolate bar with salt in it. Or maybe a touch of honey. 

How I respond to the choices life hands me is where I make the difference in how I approach and live my life when it gets tough and hard, and when its easy and loving. So the question to ask is not necessarily what does it take to stop patterns like this. Rather, I ask…

How do I dis-engage and shift the pattern
into something supporting who I am right now?

The first step is to bring the pattern into awareness and begin to notice when I engage with it. Pay Attention. I do not beat myself up when I notice myself engaging. Just notice. Look around at the context. At what triggers this pattern. Go into the past and dig up a bit of its story. Just a bit. Check out the present manifestation. Just the fact that I am doing these things is healing and empowering. Being able to notice the pattern is a sign that the pattern is ready to shift.

The tools of Intentional Creativity are a blessing to use when unraveling patterns like this one which are deeply scarred into our psyche. Why? Because the next step is to physically pull the pattern out of yourself and into image and word so you can transform it into supportive of who you are right now.

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The underpainting for my Talisman painting, Lady Love, with words and intention and paint.

When I pull the pattern out of myself with intention and onto a canvas, it changes the connection I have to the pattern IMMEDIATELY. Then, when I paint the pattern, write the words it brings up in my heart, and state intention, the opportunity for transformation grows larger and larger until it just happens without me even being aware of the huge changes happening on my canvas. 

To me, it’s like the pattern suddenly gets exposed to the light and starts wiggling about like an odd little shadow creature desperately in need of a tan. When I apply color and paint and intention, the pattern shifts, and shifts again until it finds a different way of being – more in tune with me. There is truly no way to describe this in words alone – as I create, I experience the shifting in a visceral way that lets me know I am on the right track.

Be forewarned – this is hard work and takes time. There are layers to be unwrapped and sometimes I feel like I have done oh-so-much work only to find that there is more to unwrap. Even now, five years after divorcing the husband who made me wrong for everything in his life, when in situations with him where he gets angry, I react by freaking out that I have done something wrong and need to fix it and make it right again. Sheesh.

When that happens, I stop and look back and acknowledge the shifts that have taken place to get me where I am right now. Then I look to my future self and feel the tug of the red thread pulling me forward into this life I love. Last, I look around where I am right now, at the people who love and support me, at all the good and wonderful things in my life, and I am grateful that I am exactly who I am right here, right now.

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Legacy by Annette Wagner, 2015

I am beautiful
I am woman
I am wildly creative
I am sexy and sensual
I am all I need to be
In all the ways I can be
Just as I am.

~ ~ ~

IntSketch- annette-croppedAnnette Wagner, M.A., is a Visionary Artist, Color of Woman Intentional Creativity teacher (many thanks to Ms. Shiloh for her teachings!), and Art Doctor.  She paints Contemporary Symbolism and watercolor sumi-e paintings. She works extensively with metaphor, symbol, and color. She is the Managing Editor of the Cosmic Cowgirls Magazine and staff at Shiloh Sophia Studios

Annette studied with American Master painter Sue Hoya Sellars and has a Masters in Women’s Spirituality  from Sofia University. Her background includes over 25 years of hi-tech experience including 21 patents. She is owned by her dancing daughter, two cat beings, the man of her heart, and her Muse. You can view her artwork and read more about Annette at: www.annettewagnerart.com

Author: Annette Wagner

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