The trinity of me
As I get older I see, more and more, that who I am today—who I have been every day of my life—was set absolutely as a child.
Perhaps this is true of everyone. Or perhaps some people slip through their childhood and develop their character as an adult. Or keep recreating their character throughout their life.
But this isn’t true for me.
And in spite of the truth that I had always viewed myself as having two distinct personalities—two distinct Julias in the world—I have come to admit that there aren’t just two. There are, in fact, three Julias.
I was born into a family. From the instant I was born, for complicated reasons, I was found to be lacking. As a human. Specifically, because I was a girl. Not that girls were necessarily people that were lacking in my family. It was the time. It was the place. It was the circumstances.
I was, to put it mildly, unwanted.
There were perhaps only a handful of moments that I wasn’t reminded of my state in life by those who were in charge of my rearing.
There wasn’t even a pretense of being tolerated by them.
My mother told me once that the day I left home was the happiest day of her life.
So that is one Julia: the alienated; the shunned; the hated.
And in some ways, this reaction that people had to me, especially as I grew older and shared about another aspect of me with others, became my norm.
I was me. There was no getting around that.
There were the looks from boys who thought I was the nicest person in the world. And while having a conversation with me, and listening to what I was thinking about, would just roll away into oblivion.
And worse, there were the priests that continually told me not to exist.
If I wouldn’t mind.
Just don’t exist around me, will you?
So one Julia.
Then there was the Julia who sat under that large oak tree on the corner of an empty field that stretched to the woods and was topped by a sky of blue and clouds and misty rain and snow.
With God as my instructor.
That sky I think has been permanently tattooed onto my brain. It’s where I searched for a way to understand what God was teaching me.
God. Love. Evil. Life. Prayer.
While I never questioned why I was the one sitting there, a blob being shaped into a force, I did always question my ability to get through these lessons. That were only just beginning.
I was sitting there actually receiving my primer in God.
That completely overwhelmed me even then.
When, years later, I was swept into my grown-up lessons, I wound up at a hospital with a panic attack. And a referral to a psychiatrist.
Who eventually told me that while I had some unresolved issues with my father, my visions were benign and beneficial.
Visions that I had to accept were my own.
It was like realizing that I was a transformer toy. At times one thing, an ordinary thing. A car, say.
And at other times a monstrous, far-reaching, able thing.
See. Do. Understand.
Lesson after lesson after lesson.
So much to know in what felt like a weekend—a crunch of time—some of which took years, even decades, to uncurl and read again and again and again, and apply, and finally to understand.
That is the second Julia. Blessed. Filled. Magnificent. Whether I wanted to be or not.
Throughout my life there have been periods when I have become a living stop sign.
All of it, the people around me and God, I have just said, NO, to.
Just say, no, they say.
And sometimes I do.
And I’ve wondered what that was all about.
Who that was all about.
Not understanding where that reaction was coming from, I couldn’t address it.
Talk to myself about it.
But there was one thing certain about it: the no was absolute.
There was nothing to do about it except to wait it out. Wait for some kind of explanation.
And I’m slow about those things.
It takes a lot of time for me to wretch up something lurking in my shadows.
Lately, however, I have come to admit to a third Julia.
The Julia that existed between the hatred of my family and the love of God.
I called myself, when I was this Julia, Just Julia.
It was me as I walked with my dog through the woods.
Past the still ponds where the egrets stood. Through the trees, with flitting deer and fox.
It was where I was nothing.
Not called out by anyone for any reason at all.
Where I could think about anything I wanted.
Or think about nothing at all.
I could just be.
Without insult. Without learning.
And it was this me that I shared with a very few people. At least until they pushed me away for one reason or another.
And then as I married and had children, it was lost.
I was either in the world being jostled by this emotion and that expectation, or I was with God, jostled even worse by that emotion and this expectation.
I had a dual nature: citizen and visionary.
That part of me that formed from studying the shape of tree leaves and listening to bird’s cries faded.
Except perhaps in the formation of my children.
But now I am older.
Some years I can do whatever I want to on Thanksgiving. Read a book. Eat my favorite foods. Make a decadent dessert and eat it by spoonful because it is so rich.
And feel the ease of life slipping back into me.
Just Julia is a silent Julia.
A peaceful Julia.
A content Julia.
No accommodating others’ quarrelsomeness.
No bending to God’s will for me.
Just someone who is happy with who I am and the world around me.
If I don’t like something, I just turn and go another way.
Nothing is mandated.
Which feels very nice after a lifetime of training by God.
And with most trainings, there are the potholes that I fall into.
Not because of me, exactly, but because I am learning.
Learning about God. And how the world responds to people who are learning about God.
So three Julias.
I suppose I should begin with the wrong Julia.
Then there’s the God Julia.
And last, there’s just Julia.
The one that, from time to time, says, no, to some people.
And, no, to others.
And even, no, to God.