Reclaimed Bits of My Former Self

Self actualization is a rough road. It’s a dark and rocky uphill path, both ways, in the snow and you never have the appropriate clothing.

The subject came up in conversation yesterday and my shadowy, though never submissive sub-conscience chose to wake me with its own opinion this morning. Just when I think it’s not listening it recognized another’s story as my own.

I’m theorizing that self actualization creates overcompensation in the areas we most focus. It seems the process involves growing as far as we can in one direction and then finding the balance as we tip toe backward from the precipice on the opposite side of the cliff.

Further, I’m suspecting that if we are willing to listen, teachers are put in our path to trip us. While we teeter on the edge of that opposite precipice, we were hell bent on reaching, they scream “What are you thinking?!”

The silent, terrified, reclusive teenager that I was is so far gone people don’t believe she ever was. Still a bit reclusive, I’ve nonetheless become mostly fearless and absolutely willing to speak the honest and brutal truth to anyone. Even seeing that written, I think, “Yes! That’s what I intended!”

But last week someone screamed, “What are you thinking?!”

My “mostly fearless self” stopped to confront that question. There was no answer. My “always willing to grow self” entered the fray. The answer has reared its head before – there are parts of my former “terrified silent self” that would have served me well to keep.

(Gram’s voice just entered my head, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater!”)

The good news is that it’s fairly easy to go back and pick out discarded pieces from old baggage. The baggage that can be packed but never really left behind. The baggage that doesn’t always make the connecting flight, but eventually makes it back to your doorstep. The baggage that I open up and examine like an old trunk to see how far forward I’ve come. The baggage the experts advise to pack, lock and burn.

My problem has always been that I’ve never finished packing it. And more importantly, my own personal motto: I may need something in there! The Mary Poppins bag of my past has held a few important, too hastily discarded bits that I’ve been lucky enough to go back for and find intact.

The bit now in question is something I hated myself for as a teenager. I would never speak without forethought. As a floundering teenager trying to make sense of a senseless world, that meant I never spoke. I wrote a lot. You learn to express yourself in writing, in your own time, following paralyzing, nearly endless forethought that becomes afterthought that becomes a young girl’s nonsensical dear diary entry.

I need to walk back from the opposite precipice I strived for and reached. It’s just too dangerous on that edge; dark and ugly in too many places.

So, here I am shining the tarnished, discarded bit of former self. I remembered a quote I’d read, but never took ownership of. I went on the www hunt and found it was a tenet of Buddhism.


Right Speech is the third of the eight path factors in the Noble Eightfold Path, and belongs to the virtue division of the path.

The definition
“And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.”
— SN 45.8

Five keys to right speech
“Monks, a statement endowed with five factors is well-spoken, not ill-spoken. It is blameless & unfaulted by knowledgeable people. Which five?

“It is spoken at the right time. It is spoken in truth. It is spoken affectionately. It is spoken beneficially. It is spoken with a mind of good-will.”
— AN 5.198


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