Tuesday, April 10, 2012
OOPS! I think I just reached enlightenment
This was quite the Easter. On the surface it was a quiet one. No commitments or outings. A lot of naps. Altogether too many medications and a lot of moaning about unwellness.
Deep down, it was a profound one. A game-changer. A life shifter. Like, seriously: I think I have nutted myself out.
It all started with a tweet. Someone, I can't remember whom, retweeted something from Geneen Roth. It reminded me of that fantastic book of hers that I'd read in New York. So I dug it out, recalling the impression it had made 18 months ago but reasoning that it would have new significance now, in the context of all the work I'd been doing with my therapist.
It led me down a path, to a recent conversation I'd had with my therapist about something I'd been avoiding. Something I'd been brushing off with a "whatever" attitude, steadfastly uncurious about why I'd be so blasé about something so important to me.
I followed this path to my recent unwellness and forced myself to why it was that I tended to disappear, forget who I was, lose sight of my own agency. After all, it's not like I can't look after myself.
I pushed forward, dismantling the drama I create about how the people nearest and dearest to me tend to evaporate when I am unwell, becoming competitive and/or diminishing my suffering, rather than offering tea and sympathy (which is all I really want... although some offers to pick up the slack also wouldn't go astray, but I digress). I wondered why I expected more of people when it wasn't their inclination to provide it. In fact, they'd never provided it.
I wondered why I languished in the disappointment.
I realised that this stopped me from facing the deeper truth that whenever I was unwell, I felt a bit abandoned. If I accepted that no-one else would ever step in to help me, I guess I reasoned, then I would also have to face how I alone I felt.
But then it struck me: what is so wrong with being alone? There are so many things about aloneness that I love, often crave. I usually work best alone. I certainly create best alone. I lived on my own for a long time. I have travelled extensively on my own. I am at home with my own company. Time to myself feels like the greatest gift ever. And, as I said, it's not as if I'm not capable of looking after myself and meeting most of my own needs.
So what was the problem?
A little voice whispered in my ear that being alone really equalled being lonely.
And then I saw it: I feared being alone because I associated this with the feeling that comes with having done something wrong. I was alone because it was my fault.
And then I saw it, the bind I'd been in all this time: I thought was being rejected because I was unloveable, and that I was unloveable because I was being rejected.
I recalled how, early in her book, Geneen Roth encouraged one of her clients to make space for her younger self, that little girl who had been wounded, to give her pain a little space to breathe.
I heard my own voice say, aloud: You didn't do anything wrong, little girl. It wasn't your fault.
And there it was. The cause of all this unworthiness stuff. The reason for my low self-worth. The nagging feeling that I need to ask permission to do something, to be something, and constantly waiting for rejection.
After a lot of crying and rocking back and forwards in foetal position, it's fair to say that I felt a lot better. In fact, I felt like I'd been reborn.
I feel I should add here that I don't want anyone reading this to worry. I have had a good life. I had a happy childhood with a loving family and no major trauma. I am one of the lucky ones... which is why is has often perplexed me (and my loved ones) why I can be prone to feel so crappily about myself.
I don't blame my parents. I see how my fears were instilled by an entire generation of family, teachers, friends and mentors, many of whom had experienced war, deprivation, migration, disruption. I feel lucky that I have the resources at my disposal to dig deep and analyse where my worldview has come from, and think about what I really want from my life going forward.
It's not been all sunshine and roses over here since this epiphany, and I know that my realisation was the first step in a long road. But now I see that accepting "comfortable lies" without question is no longer an option.
This life, real life, is not for the fainthearted. But, honestly, it is not as frightening as I thought it was.