Allowing my true self to be seen.

I write this in response to a conversation I had recently regarding embracing my expression of difference. My journey to self-acceptance has not been a straight forward one - it has taken a lot of time and a lot of painful reflection.

I want to share some of my journey with you and explore what it feels like to be a ‘closed bud’.

Growing up my expression of difference was wrapped inside me like a closed flower bud waiting for spring - cocooned within a toughened shell and buried deep within. You may have only glimpsed this difference by spending time with me…time that the people around me didn’t have.

Image - closed flower bud

Image - closed flower bud

Instead I was left a complete but closed bud for the whole of my childhood, teens and twenties. Of course I stood out as ‘different’ but my difference was never the subject of enquiry. Easily explained away by the unhelpful strategies my parents adopted to further strengthen the closure of their own armoured buds.

On birthing little closed buds of my own, wrapped in their own unique expressions of difference - I too saw how closed they were. Initially I tried to force their buds open…I knew there was no need to conceal their beautiful differences because I understood that what I saw in them was the difference I also held within me - I wanted them to open their buds for the world to see because I thought that they were so incredibly beautiful.

But the truth is that they had learnt to conceal their difference in the same way the generations of closed buds had done before them.

We see the other buds who do not carry this difference and as they grow their petals start to open - open for the world to see. But for us different buds we know that the colours held within us are not the same. We suffer in silence, we keep our buds closed, we do not talk about our struggle with sights, lights and sounds. We get through our day tightening our buds, concealing our difference and harbouring it as our own personal secret.

We are different but we do not tell.

We do not tell you what our everyday day is like because we are scared that in disclosing our differences you will dislike what you see!

So we hide within ourselves.

As I watched my own little buds concealing their true self like their parents and grandparents before them I thought to myself…how do I teach you to bloom?…how do I help you to see that your colours may be different to many of the other buds but your colours within you are beautiful and bright?

I then took a look at myself and I realised…

I am just another tightly closed bud. In this realisation I learnt that you can not teach other closed buds to bloom without blooming yourself first.

I had to take it a petal at a time.

I learnt about my expression of difference little by little and then slowly showed it to the world. This was extremely painful at first because my bud had been closed for far longer than what was intended - but by exploring myself and using strategies to help me throughout my day - I slowly started the blooming process.

The process that everyone with the same coloured petals seemed to have done years ago, but non the less I was at last starting to bloom.

Image - multicoloured flower

Image - multicoloured flower

It was only through showing my children how I could manage my own blooming process that they could then start the process for themselves. I was honest with them and I showed them that it was sometimes scary to show your true colours but in the long run, being open - and blooming into my truest self - is amazing!

Yes my colours shine differently to many people and there are still some people who look at me and think ‘what an odd looking flower - she is not like the other flowers I see’ but other people, the most loving people, the people I call my friends. They come to me to embrace my beautifully different petals and value the uniqueness that they hold.

So if you are that closed bud, holding tightly to your difference, concealing them within and not wanting your true self to be seen - I invite you to bloom…the journey may not be easy and the learning will take time but once the blooming process begins it’s filled with self-love, self-care and sensory support that makes you a little stronger and your days a little brighter,

Love to your sensory self,

Jess x x

Jessica Dark