The Benefits of Being Myself – Jacki Kellum

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For too many years, I found myself trapped between two walls–the wall of a bad marriage and the wall of “what people think.” I cannot take full credit for the ways that I have climbed out of that space–that space of being trapped between two walls–but I do prefer life out here on the fringes to that being trapped between two walls.

A quarter of a century ago, my ex-husband divorced me and while getting over that rejection and my fear of surviving on my own was long-coming, I finally did adjust. Now, I can honestly say that having no mate at all is much better than those years that I was caught in a bad marriage.

Even before my marriage fell apart, I nearly died in a car accident. My entire body was scarred and I lost most of my teeth. After that, regardless of how hard I tried, I could never look “perfect” again. My physical image was broken. Gradually, I accepted that fact and it has also been nice to have been freed from the web of trying to be prettier than I am.

Over time, I have eliminated other sticky webs that I had wrapped around myself–I was especially happy to toss the webs of trying to please everyone but me.

I am not quite sure what it is about public opinion that totally whips some of us into an existence of “going through the motions.” When we are completely ensnared, we even worry about the opinions of people that we do not even like. What a waste. I have taken a discerning look around myself, and my main objective now is to do the things that seem authentic to me.

My children are grown and out of the house. I live alone. Certainly, I will not live too terribly much longer. My main objective for the rest of my life is to do the things that I feel are “right” for me.

One of my guilty pleasures is that I waste very little time on housework. People rarely come into my home and my house needs a great amount of cosmetic repair. Why should I spend the time that I could be writing or painting or gardening, cleaning a house that no one will see?  In fact, why should I waste my life cleaning, even if other people will see my house? I am not my house. Rather, I AM my writing and my painting and my gardening. I have opted to spend time on me and not my house.

During the months of April or May, I begin working in my garden. Anyone who watches what I do in my garden will be assured that I am not a lazy person. I move tons of dirt–one shovel at a time. I dig out and move massive bushes. I lift heavy lumber and build arbors and fences that have almost entirely enclosed my yard. During the garden season, I normally work in my yard 8 to 12 hours a day. Again, I am not lazy. I have merely opted to exert my energy in a non-traditional way. The world wants me to work inside, cleaning my house. I want to work outside. I win.

Now that the garden season is over, I spend the same 8 to 18 hours a day, propped up in my bed–laptop on lap–writing–or doing computer art. My cluttered room screams at me about that choice, but I allow it to scream. Upstairs, I do just enough housework to keep my clothes and my bed linens clean, and I am satisfied. I have determined that no one else gets a vote–not even my room. No one else makes my house payment or pays my taxes and for my utilities. That responsibility is mine. I pay for my house. I pay for my room, and I paid for my bed, it is my choice to write in my bed.

One of the worst of our walls is that which we build around ourselves–it is the wall that is created when we do what we think people expect us to do–even when doing so defies our own chances of being happy. I have given up on that kind of game-playing.

Don’t get me wrong. I do still feel guilty at times. I do still worry a bit about what other people think.

But here is the difference: I no longer allow other people’s obsessions to determine the way that I live my life.
Hate to Love

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4 thoughts on “The Benefits of Being Myself – Jacki Kellum

  1. Art, no matter the size or kind, is something for the age. So while you are involved in what is good for you, you are also helping us. Regarding the house, you might be for the age if you’re the Biltmore House or Falling Water. Otherwise, I can’t see that it matters much. Regarding where you write, you have what Virginia Woolf calls for in her essay, “a room of one’s own.” Seems as if the process you’ve gone through–in understanding who you are and where–has taken you to someplace right. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

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