QUESTION: I have to be honest: I’m a liar and it saddens me because I have a myriad of great qualities that are devalued once my phoniness is revealed. Thing is, I was doing so well with being honest with myself and others and a major spiritual transformation occurred a few years ago, but now I’ve hit a bump in the road and I am completely discouraged.

I was a stripper for 10 years, and it took me a long time to assess the damage that was done during that time. And when I say damage, it was just the lying - living a double life. Feeling like my “real” life is shameful, so I must make up a story. (Now that I don’t dance, I still do lie about my life to potential suitors.) That stuff starts to become habitual and drains your energy. I always said once I’m done with dancing, I’d be able to have a real relationship. Well, I finally found a guy who wants a relationship with me and we had a beautiful connection, but I ran away because I saw some ugly qualities he had - that I have as well, and I didn’t want to deal with them. I ran away to some guy who just used me for sex and got engaged to his ex-girlfriend shortly after. Basically, the lust, the fantasy, the lie is what I chose because I was scared (again).

ANSWER: You are halfway there when you start by saying that you have to be honest. We never have to do anything. It is a choice. When the fear of taking a new path is smaller than the pain of the existing one, magic happens. We allow the change to occur. It is not that we need to bring the change; we just need to stop fighting it.

What you describe is an aspect that we all struggle with. We are all afraid of being seen, being vulnerable, being intimate. We go in and out, we expand and contract, we get close and then push away. That is the dance. It is a process, it takes time to keep opening up, and through pain we realize that we have to make other choices.

Be gentle with yourself while being firm with yourself. Major transformations do not wipe the personality clean. They give a view of what is possible. We have to keep making choices that feed the new possibilities. The ups and downs are there pretty much for all of us. Do not be disheartened. Observe and learn from your patterns. Work with someone that can help you see more clearly. Good to have allies on this journey. Keep your wits about you and let the stories about who you are go. They are just that: stories. You want love, you deserve it, and you are scared out of your wits to receive it. That pretty much describes all of us walking around in a meat suit. Work with that.