Finding the Key to Myself

Most of my life I have had a bad case of eleutherominia: an intense and irresistible desire for freedom. Through much of my young life I longed to travel, to roam free, to escape.  And as I’ve grown older I’ve begun to question – what am I escaping from? And what does freedom really mean anyway?

I’ve come to realize that escape and freedom are not the same thing. As much as I ran from difficult situations, travelled the world, and convinced myself that I loved myself, I was unhappy. I ran as fast and furiously as I could but still felt like a rat in a wheel, reliving the same feeling of being TRAPPED.

I wrote a poem when I was eleven years old called Freedom is Your Destiny. It won an international poetry prize and was in the national newspaper. I recently re-read this poem, having forgotten about it for many years, and realized that I’ve felt much like the main character at different times of my life. The end of the poem reads:

“…Now you are trapped in a hostile world. Locked away with dwindling hope. Lonely: No-one beside you . . . friendless. A lifetime to live when there is no point in living. The world locked out and you locked in. And yet . . . you harbour hope: Refuse to surrender. Your mind’s candle continues to burn. An everlasting light that will not die. Never let the darkness in. Somehow; one day. The gates will open.”

I’ve always felt out of synch with the world. I’ve always felt that it is a hostile place. A few years ago I realized that I would never find my rightful place in the world until I found peace in myself.

It was my 22nd birthday, during a dark time of my life. I was sitting downstairs doing something ordinary, when I got an overwhelming urge to go upstairs and pull out a card from my tarot deck. I followed my intuition and pulled out a card from the deck: the image on the card was a key. Though I didn’t fully understand it at the time, I knew this was a significant moment of my life that would somehow change everything.

The universe had plans for me that day. I was given a key to myself.

Soon after this event, I began going to therapy and unlocking many deep parts of myself. My body became a maze of rooms I was determined to navigate through with my little key. Some rooms were big, dark, and empty; some were small, hot and cramped; some were not rooms at all but vast spaces where I could let the healing waters of life wash over me.

This was a healing journey for me, and since this time of my life I have rarely felt the need to escape. I realized that my need to escape was always futile – because I could never escape myself. And by separating out escape from freedom, I’ve begun to find the true meaning of freedom: freedom to be myself.

Just recently I had a dream that I was locked out of my workplace, and I was looking for the key. As I was searching I kept saying to myself, “It’s not a little key, it’s a BIG key!” I woke up knowing that I had to find the BIG key because there were deeper parts of myself calling out to be set free. Weeks passed and I was obsessed with keys. I lost and found my car keys multiple times. I was given a key to the new home I moved into. But I was still missing the key I truly needed.

Read other blogs by Kenya Brading

Just last week, I was doing my usual morning meditation. I was focusing on love – personal, human, spiritual, unconditional, self, all the different kinds of love. Love has been big for me lately and I’ve been seeking out the barriers in myself that prevent me from loving (anger, jealousy, judgement, to name a few). My partner comes in as I’m finishing my meditation and shows me the key to the house he is building – it’s a BIG key! This was an AHA! moment for me. The key is love – and the deeper we wish to dive into ourselves, the more love we need. We need BIG love. Because getting out of the cages of anger and jealousy and judgement is hard, and the only thing that will soften them and allow us to move through, is love.

There is an old Irish saying; “The road is long and has no turning.” We can never truly turn away from ourselves. We can only hope to find the key to ourselves and find the way through. Through the dark, through the woods, and out the other side where we can let the water heal us and the sun revive us. It is here that we can turn to face ourselves and see our own beauty. It is here that we find freedom in the heart of love. It is here that we remember we were free all along.


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