Friday, September 7, 2018

Messy, bleeding, oozing insides...

I’ve worked very hard on myself over the years.

Very hard.

Because I didn’t like who I was at various points in my life.  In fact, I can say that I truly hated myself at a few low spots over the years. 

I was becoming someone or something that I couldn’t even relate to or understand.

I lacked confidence.  Like royally.  I acted out in various ways.  I was clingy.  I was distant.  I was envious of others.  I craved something I didn’t even know what it was I was craving.  

I felt desperate, lonely, alone, and that I mattered to no one.  I felt like I was lacking what others had and I hated them for it.  

I didn’t like myself there but I had no idea how to change how I felt.

There wasn’t much talk back then, about 20 years ago, in the field of mental health.  Now we see dozens of memes or articles a day!  

I still don’t know what to think about the plethora of memes I see each day.

Are they hurting us more than helping?  Are they too superficial?  Are they too damaging?  I know I have used them as a way of making myself even more wrong.  Maybe that’s just the old me looking for yet another distraction, so I don’t have to come out of my comfort and safe zone.  Meh, old habits…

Was I depressed way back then?  I don’t know if I would define it as depressed, but I sure felt like I was in a deep dark hole that I couldn’t climb out of.

I searched for help. I took the meds.  I did the talk therapy.  

Funny thing was, when I did the therapy work, they kept asking why I was there, because I already knew what was wrong with me and that they couldn’t give me any more answers than I already had.

True story.

Zero help in the medical field, outside of more drugs.

I searched for someone to show me the way, because I didn’t want to be medicated…but I felt like I was spinning around….I couldn’t find anyone to save me.  

I felt like there was no help and I did not want to burden my family with something that I couldn’t even explain.  

Where was my hero?  My white knight?  

At that time, I was so uncertain or unaware of my own spirituality, that I even stopped praying.

I stopped talking to my version of God, because nothing was changing.  Life had been so hard, there mustn’t be a God anyway.

There were nights, as a single mom, where my 6 year old daughter would come get me off the couch at 3 am, crying my eyes out, and put me to bed.  Bless her little heart…

I mean it when I say I was in a dark place.  

It makes my heart sad to look back at those days and see how broken I was.  Or how broken I felt. 

So powerless.

Oh, I looked okay on the outside.  I mean, I was not about to let someone see inside the real me.  The sad me.  The frightened me.  The wounded me.  No, no, no…you didn’t do that.  

I had to be perfect…like society was telling me I had to be.  

Reality was though, I was a crumbled pile of rubble….and I felt like a piece of garbage that no one wanted to pick up.

So I had to learn how to pick myself up.

I had to figure out a way to get up off the dirty, dusty, muddy, slimy ground, wipe some of the gook off and take another blind step toward a destination that I didn’t even know existed.

I was directionless and absolutely lost.

But I did it…because I KNEW there had to be another way.  Oprah was the guiding light back then and she seemed genuinely happy.  Why couldn’t I be that happy or successful, dammit?  What magic did she possess that I didn't?

I knew it was up to me. I had to find my own way out.

It wasn’t pretty.  

I tried a lot of things. Alcohol.  Bar hopping.  Cigarettes. 

And those didn’t work…in fact, they felt awful.  I hated myself even more for it.  But they gave me something to distract myself with when my kids were gone to their dad’s. 

But I felt even lonelier and more lost.

I tried vision boards (one of the newest things out there).  Meditation (but back then, it was all about spirit guides and ohm-ing, and I was so far away from that realm yet).

I then moved into the world of energy and holistic healing, starting with Reflexology. It seemed safe and not too woowoo.

And I found a little tribe there.  

Then I moved into Reiki and found another little tribe there.

Then I moved onto EFT – emotional freedom technique – and I really started releasing with that tool. O-M-Gosh...takes my breath away recalling my first experiences with EFT.  Life changing indeed.  Slowly though. Safely.  

I tried lots of new things...and I was open to the changes that were happening.  

One protective layer at a time peeled off me.  One angry layer.  One sad layer.  One shame layer.  Painfully and slowly…they began to peel off.

I felt open and raw and exposed and vulnerable and a bit scared to be feeling like that.  

A little out of control. It was tough!  

Oh man, I cried a lot. I screamed a lot.  I punched a lot of pillows.  

But those screams eventually turned into whimpers only.

And I found my heart and my smile and my laughter under the piles of fear, rage, sadness, blame, guilt, anger and shame.

I found love.  Love for myself.  An understanding that I did matter.  And that I was capable of wayyyyy more than I ever thought I was.  

Someone told me that you have to love family first.  That loving yourself was conceited and selfish and ungodly. 

I don't think that was working for me.  Because all the love for my family was not serving me.  I loved my kids and family with everything that I was, but I couldn't 'see' them.  My self-loathing armor was too thick for me to let them in.

I had to learn to love myself, for maybe the first time since I was a little girl, so that I could allow others to love me.  So that I could allow me to be the kind of person who was actually capable of truly loving others, without putting judgments or conditions on them.  So that I could see them as a person, in their own uniqueness and with their requirements.  

Not what I required them to be.  Or needed them to be for me.  

I needed to learn to love myself without judgment or beating myself up...so that I could love others enough to allow them to do the same.

I heard a phrase the other day that resonated with me.  

“Sometimes you gotta dig really really deep to find yourself”

You know, I’ve heard that phrase 1000 times.  I think we all have.  Every other meme on social media is about ‘digging deep’.  About finding yourself.  About letting go.  

But when I heard it the other day, I truly got the deepness and the rawness of it.

Because I dug deep.

Really deep.

I had to dig through all of my crappy experiences.

I had to dig through all of the consequences of my actions.

I had to dig through all of my judgements about myself and the world.

I had to dig through the shame, the fear, the anger, the blame.

I had to dig through the sad story I was telling myself and others…and believing.

And I didn’t necessarily want to.

That’s why we distract, isn’t it?

We distract with food, drugs, alcohol, shopping, gambling, sex, perfectionism, blame, gossip, emotions…..you name it, there’s 100’s of ways to distract.

We do it so we don’t have to face our yuck.  We do it to feel some kind of power.  Even if it means powering over others.

But then we stay stuck. Emotionally.  Physically.  Mentally. Spiritually.

So, whether we like it or not, we have to dig.

And not just a wee little bit either.

We have to dig deep. We have to get dirty.

There are definitely some things in my past I did not want to revisit.  

There are definitely some things that I did that I did not want to admit to.

There are definitely some things I did to others that gave me shame.

But I was ready to change.

I was ready to dig deep.

To do the work that would be painful and brutal.

And I dug my way out of that hole and opened up a whole tunnel of light.

I found a space where I could breathe and where I felt safe being me.  

I created that for myself. 

Oh, I sure did so have help on the way…my family, my friends, my goddess sisters…my tribe…

But I had to be willing to allow them to help me.  

My fierce independence was actually NOT a contribution to my life, and once I realized that, I found help in many many places I was not expecting…and I will always be grateful to those who stepped up to help me dig.

But I had to be willing to allow them in.  

That’s what I mean when I say I created it myself.  

Because without my choice to do that, I wouldn’t have let anyone see my insides.  

My messed up, bleeding, oozing insides.

Did it happen overnight?

I wish…

One shovelful at a time. 

And sometimes, that shovelful got thrown back at me, by me or by someone else, and I had to redig in the same spot.  

Sometimes that even still happens!

Ugh

If I felt like the dirt was piling up again though, or I hit a rock, I stopped.  I cried again.  I screamed again.  And I sat with it for a bit.  

I examined why I was re-visiting the same old dirt again.

I worked hard to see the lesson in the rock or pile of dirt.

Then I put on my hard hat and grabbed the spade, and off I went again.  

That rock may have slowed me down a bit, but I never allowed it to permanently stop me, I just had to create a new path around it, and let it go.  Just learn my lesson, roll on by and not look back at that barrier.

Someone once said to me that they didn’t want to work on themselves.  They were too scared to see what was underneath. That they were scared they wouldn’t like themselves underneath all that pain.  

They felt too vulnerable. 

In fact, I hear that in the stories of many of my clients every time I sit in a consult with them. I see they are where I’ve been.  I recognize that pain.  I know the walls of that hole.  I know the pain of it..and the uncomfortable safety of it.  

I understand.

In a world that seems cruel, and mean, and scary things are happening, staying safe in our dark little hole seems the best choice.

But that wasn’t working for me.

I knew I had more to offer, and even though I had no idea what it was, I knew staying put was not an option.

Feeling powerless is actually another choice we make.  Another distraction.  

Oh, I  would have argued that point years ago.  I would have said that I had no choice in where I was.  

That my story was solid and real and true and I could never change it.

Oh brother….how strong we are in our beliefs…they do keep us stuck, don’t they?

There was actually NOTHING wrong with me...it was my perception of my life that was creating the crazy in my life.  That is why no one else could help me...it was all up in my head, and I was making it all bigger and bigger every day.

Digging deep can be messy. It can be dirty and muddy.  It can open old wounds, especially if you are digging with your bare hands…but I truly do believe that rich or poor, white or black, tall or short, skinny or fat, young or old, we are all on a path to self-discovery and we all, every single one of us, has something to contribute to others, to the world.

Even if it’s putting out a pot of flowers for your neighbor to admire.

Even if it’s donating your clothing to charitable organizations.

Even if it’s just a smile at strangers.

Being kind to someone who has been unkind towards you.

Cuddling with your kids, sitting with loved ones and really listening to their wisdom and their story, and honoring it.  

Picking up litter.

We all have an importance and meaning.

You may just have to dig a little deeper than you’ve been willing to dig before.  

Maybe a lot deeper.

Will it be easy?  Heck no.

Will it be worth it?

I believe so…