Jaime Pollard-Smith is a full-time writing instructor with a Master of Arts from New York University. She lives in Charlotte, NC with her two teenage humans and her golden doodle, Dexter. Her work has been published at Literary Mama. She is a regular contributor for That Odd Mom, Scary Mommy and Project We Forgot. Read her weekly thoughts at Unbecoming.
AN UNBECOMING STORY
Welcome to my unbecoming.
It all began with a prompt from my writing group. We were asked to describe an unexpected phone call or visit. I chose to write about a call from my college self (very unexpected, indeed). She was mortified. Jaime in her early twenties did not approve of what she saw. Why is your hair so messy? How did you end up in Charlotte? You are supposed to have your PhD by now! The list went on and on. She didn't like my muscles, Bohemian thrift store wardrobe or views on organized religion. This girl was terrified of what people must think of her. Everyone we love must be so mad and disappointed. YOU have ruined everything.
I sat with this feeling for a while and let her vent. Then I calmly began to introduce myself. My life was full of beauty, pain and silver linings. Grown Jaime was exactly where she needed to be. Yes, I agreed that some people we loved were not thrilled with my choices, but they were mine to make. I owned them. I was the captain of this messy-haired ship. One day she would understand. I told her to relax (she would accomplish this for the first time in about twenty years) and to know I've got this! She would be okay and, dare I say, happy.
That unexpected conversation sparked a fire. I needed to keep writing the message that the scared little Jaime needed to hear.
They say you can only write what you would like to read. It makes sense; self-help books spill over onto the floor from my bedside table. In 2016, I decided to start blogging and documenting my journey to unbecoming. I wanted to use writing as a tool for excavation - to create a space for thinking and reflection. There was no plan or agenda. I would write a self-help book for my self.
I am amazed by the outcome of this FOUR YEAR journey. My husband summed it up: “Your writing has been your best therapy.” I have documented the highs and lows of my growth. Ailing parents, children, career, social issues, marriage, health and personal growth create a cacophony in my heart and mind. What I once described as broken or my beautiful mess I now describe as openness. I am split wide open for the world to see, but most importantly, for myself to see.
Every morning I open my meditation with the words, “Welcome home.” It seems so obvious. But it was not obvious or natural for me. Four years ago, I did not feel at home within myself because, honestly, I did not truly know who I was. I knew my roles. I knew what I was expected to do.
In the Internal Family Systems Model, Dr. Richard Schwartz describes the core or center of a person as the true self. This self consists of the 8 Cs:
Through my process of unbecoming, I have begun to uncover my core self. Meditation has brought me a new sense of calm. Better understanding of myself has increased my compassion for others. Developing my voice as a writer has grown my confidence and enabled me to tap into my creative nature. Voracious reading and exploration have engaged my curiosity. Letters, notes, emails, texts and phone calls from readers have grounded me and allowed me to connect as a mother, daughter, wife, woman, teacher, friend and human being. Openly sharing my story with the world has fostered courage. Time and space have brought clarity; some of the fog lifted.
An authentic self made her debut. As the saying goes, I love who I am because I fought hard to become her.
Over eighty blog posts later, I am aware and awake in a way that I have never been. I started this project to find myself and along the way I found so many others. I spent my life thinking I needed outer sources to create my inner world. Now I understand how the inner can create the outer. Writing has been a bridge to connect my inner world to so many people. We all have a story worth telling. Thank you for being a part of mine.