June 2024 Letter

The puppeteer and the puppet.

When I was young, it felt like I had at least two personalities. The Michelle I was at home and family, and the Michelle I would be with friends and school. 

I didn't feel safe growing up. I grew up in an emotionally unstable environment so it was easier just to hide my feelings. It was easier to focus on the tasks and just be logical and objective about everything I undertake. It was easier to justify my actions and defend myself that way. And it didn't hurt as much if I don't examine what was going on inside me. 

I was dutiful and was the model daughter that my parents wanted me to be. This way I avoided messy confrontations and arguments at home. I could keep myself safe in my room and not be disturbed.

In school I craved to be accepted and I had a lot of friends around me. I was witty, people wanted to be around me, and I made everyone feel accepted. I was admired by others and praised by teachers... This personality I later brought with me to the professional field and it has served me well over the years.

I created these "puppets" for people to see and interact with. I would manipulate these personalities from a distance as a "decoy" so the true me wouldn't be a target. Insults and put downs just didn't affect me as much. And I could objectively polish and hone these personalities so that they would meet everyone else's expectations... except mine.

Years later, I realized that neither of these Michelle's was me. There was another Michelle that was hidden from the world. I had this hidden curiosity that needed to try new things (which my perfectionist self wouldn't allow). I wanted to make funny faces (that my respectable self was embarrassed about). I wanted adventures (which my timid self was scared of).

I've been getting to know this "true Michelle" and as I show her to the world, I start to feel more and more congruent. I spend less energy trying to switch personalities and wondering if I said or did the "right thing". Decisions have flowed easier. My joy has blossomed. And life has become an adventure!

It's our first month in Aix-en-Provence, France and we wouldn't be here if I didn't listen to my true self's longing. I think I would still be the puppet helping everyone else get what they want except me.

Every day is a wonderful discovery of who I am, what I want, what I need, what my gifts are, what I can do... And everyday I realize how wonderful it is to be ME!

So my challenge to you today is to get to know your inner self. It could be scary as you don't know what you might find. But more likely than not, you would be surprised to see what a beautiful person you are inside. Take the first steps to being your "whole self" and see how wonderful your life could be!

My life is truly beautiful!

Michelle Skalnik

Ma Vié Belle!