"Agency" and the lack there of...
my sister Andrea and I ready for church
There was a time that I felt like it was "sinful" to maintain or devlop a strong sense of self. My system of belief taught me that I was bad and that anything that I wanted to do was probably motivated by selfishness. I really struggled with understood "my will" vs "God's will". How could I paint or create if there were starving children in the world? I was trained to put everyone else's needs before my own. I tried really hard to be that ideal sacrificial person, constantly trying to please and take care of everyone else.
It got much worse when I moved back to my hometown, where most of my family still lived. I let this people pleasing, God pleasing mindset get me in all kinds of trouble. I'm an introvert and I need lots of personal space and time. Here in this town, it seemed like everyone needed me. The townsfolk, my parents, my grandparents, husband, kids and clients kept me feeling like I was constantly juggling everyone else's wishes.
I tried for about three years to be that "other-focused" woman that my culture esteems so highly.
Then I quit. I got burned. The world wore me down.
For a few years my spirit went sour and I really struggled with depression.
So, I prayed and begged God to fix me, but I only "heard" silence.
I kept waiting to be rescued.
Then, finally, something changed... I let everyone down except for a few chosen people like my kids and husband. The rest of them, I stopped. I wish I could say that it was easy.
I can only imagine the gossip that swirled around my sudden hermit status. I stopped helping everyone else, I stopped trying to fulfill needs before they were ever voiced. I "got off my culturally assigned "cross, " and went home.
Then I went inward and really started to do the deep soul and emotional work. After a few years, my own sense of self worth and dignity grew like a carefully pruned sapling. I finally actually began to accept myself... Even love myself. I started to see how my religion had taught me not to think for myself, not have goal other than pleasing a seemingly indifferent God or to pursue my own desires.
Fed up with feeling stuck, I finally decided to take charge, to get agency, to climb into the drivers seat I'd my life. I realized that I had power, a voice and the right to be myself. After 40 years, I no longer felt helpless and dependent anymore. I was becoming master of my own destiny.
It has been a bit over two years. I never want to go back to that old mindset. I finally feel free and happy and I am so grateful that I was lucky enough to get out.
My paintings, especially the ones in my Eye Candy exhibit at The Center for Contemporary Art, are a visual record of my process of freeing my soul and mind. My own identity started emerging from beneath years of depression and inslavement to the expectations of others and a religion that promises to free, only to repress sometimes.
In my part of the world, it's highly unpopular to think for yourself. I played the game their way and now I live like this, and I can for certain say that my freedom is 1000 times more joyful and free than anyway I lived under the authority of religion and fiction that makes us afraid to be ourselves.
THIS NOW by Kacy Latham
Creative Writing and Essays. Follow Me on Medium.com
I'm a small town gal, raising two boys who loves to make things. My current love is abstract art. It might be the creative love of my life!