The journey to self discovery is fascinating to say the least. I embarked on mine a year ago, but I do believe I have spent a lifetime searching. What I have come to realise is that self examination is very painful from a place of judgement and shame. They have a saying in the rooms of 12 step and that is, “God only gives you what you can handle”. This is apparent, based on the trauma, which has only, just surfaced. Before connecting to it, I got to a place of complete self-acceptance and gentleness.
I had an experience with my best friend, which broke me. She is my greatest mirror! She came to me with a scenario, which I went straight into judgment over. My judgement was rooted in fear of what I didn’t know. Naturally I took her inventory for her and judged her the same way I would have judged myself if I had been in the same situation. Her reaction, though painful, is exactly what I needed to see. I hurt the person, who I love the most and it was as painful for me to see myself doing that as I think it was for her to be on the receiving end. It was from that moment, that I realised exactly how harmful I can be, to myself… She just allowed me to witness it. I felt regret and deeply feared abandonment.
She didn’t leave, she like me, stuck around and thank God for that! I made a mistake and I was forgiven and it is from that I started to believe I was forgivable. I let go of trying to be this perfect specimen, who will never slip or make a mistake and I connected with my humanness. I found self-forgiveness and in turn learnt self-acceptance. The shame has left me, because for the first time I can love me for who I am and that is enough. To know that nothing I do is wrong OR right. That I am like a little girl learning to run. I may fall and I may hurt myself, but that is ok, because there is nothing wrong with learning through doing. And if I am constantly fearing doing things, I will do nothing at all. I will merely escape into the fantasy of doing things, which lives in my head. Then I end up disappointed that I don’t do them.
When I am afraid, I ask God, “Please come in and hold my hand”. I was a frightened little girl with no freedom to express myself without punishment. This is no longer the case, but that little girl is not going to come out with harsh words and judgement. Love, open arms and encouragement on the other hand, are the antidote. “A spiritual awakening is the antidote for fear”, from one of the questions on step twelve – Yes it is. My spiritual awakening was unconditional love and acceptance of self. If I love myself no matter what. There is nothing to be ashamed of.
I went to Sydney last weekend. The trip was something special. I did a meeting for adult children of dysfunctional families and for the first time in my life I cried in front of people who weren’t my mother or my therapist – not to mention in front of an entire group! I hobbled out of the meeting and I realised I had literally forgotten everything people had said. Bessel Van Der Kolk explained it best, when he said that when people get scared, frightened or upset we loose our frontal lobe and the limbic system takes over (which is the primitive part of the brain that was created when you were a kid to help you survive) – so the question he poses is how do we build up our frontal lobe so that it can still operate when the limbic system takes over. – Anyway, he explains it much better than I do. I watched the video in February for the first time and on Sunday, I had my first lived awareness of this actually happening to me. People would say their names and no sooner had they said it, would I forget their name completely. It was really weird and confronting. We went for a ridiculously over priced massage afterwards and ate ice cream and then passed out early. My experience is that you can have all the stamina in the world, but it means nothing to keep you standing in the midst of this emotional work… It is there on my knees that I can comprehend humility.
Another thing that happened on the trip and the day before I left. I went into a clothing store to buy a pair of shorts. This was really difficult for me, because when the shop assistant asked me what I was looking for I had NO idea! She brought out the full range of women’s shorts, which were all high wasted and inappropriately short. These are the kind of shorts I have worn for the past 12 years and have sat in meetings completely uncomfortable. My codependency was starting to kick in and I started feeling really bad that I wasn’t going to buy anything – maybe this was a little bit of a blessing! What it inspired me to do was ask her about the boys shorts I had seen when I walked in. She was a bit shocked, but brought me a full range of guys shorts in different sizes and I was able to try them on and find the size that fit me. I had my first happy shopping experience EVER!!! It was great, because when we got to Sydney, I went into another clothing store and walked around with my friend feeling totally uneasy and overwhelmed. Disheartened, I sat and waited to give my friend the thumbs up while she tried on her outfits. I got up and shuffled over to the guys section. I started to get quite excited when I found 2 pairs of shorts I liked and knew the size I was looking for. 1 didn’t look great, but the other did and I was over the moon… this was a second INCREDIBLE shopping experience for me.
Months ago I would have had too much shame to come out of hiding to publicly start to try to look for who I am. I would have been too ashamed of the fact that I wanted to wear guys clothing and I most certainly would have done everyone’s thinking for them and done the worst judgement of me through your eyes – let alone actually asking for help! Seeing the joy and excitement being myself brought to me over the weekend, I am not sure I can ever go back to suppressing that part of me. I heard some famous Bollywood director once say, “It takes an awful lot of energy trying to be something you’re not and absolutely no energy at all just being who you are.”