There was an opportunity I didn’t take recently and I gave myself a really hard time for not “seizing the day.” Dealing with some pretty huge stress at the time, I just didn’t have the capacity to be courageous and have a conversation I really wanted to have.
For days afterwards I was beating myself up, big-time, about it. Why am I at this point, all my efforts unable to push through and ask for what I want?
I felt so broken.
Waves of self-doubt kept pounding. I felt like I could barely tread water or believe that life could ever be better than my past or unrelenting chaos of the present.
Until I stopped.
If my feelings were telling me something, what would it be?
I questioned all the self-improvement I had put myself through. Apparently I had all the strategies to be better, do better and be more ‘successful’, but there I was, on a quiet and sunny, almost deserted beach, incapable of owning my truth, much less communicating it.
I turned, faced the tsunami of emotion and dived deep. What is this feeling? Where have I felt it before? When is the first time I remember feeling it?
Every time I came up for air, I asked another question, diving deeper into its source. The deeper I plunged, the more I felt like I was unravelling -rather messily- until my heart lightened, and I could see the patterns that I had allowed to drive me in survival-mode and fight-or-flight for so long.
I had to prescribe myself the greatest dose of self-compassion I never knew existed. I was at where I was at because I hadn’t dealt with the conditioning running the show. It occurred to me that healing is a process and I had to fully accept where I was at right now and all the uncertainty along with it.
As we discussed intelligent friends who had suicided, I asked my therapist “what is it about smart people?”
We both looked at each other in silence.
”You can’t out-think feelings!” I replied to my own question.
She nodded, “feelings are overwhelming”.
There is no logic or positive affirmation that can outwit a feeling of
unworthiness, rejection, humiliation or deep shame.
The mindless positivity so prevalent in selling the latest self-improvement course merely masks our deeper issues, leaving them to fester, unacknowledged, whilst manipulating our closeted skeletons of ‘not good enough’.
For all my investment in self-development and positive thinking nothing has cleared the weight of the baggage faster than diving deep and feeling all of it, until there was nothing left to feel.
Once through the breaking waves, out the back of the break, I rest in the calm and allow myself to regain some strength before the next wave comes. Sometimes I have to hold my breath a little longer, but it’s worth it to be free of everything weighing me down, especially the burden of others’ judgements on how I failed to validate their projected expectations, or was an easy scapegoat for their own failings.
I just had to trust myself that I would do the best I could until I knew better, and then I could do better, and trust life, that I am still here and if I’d experienced what I had for a reason, how could I share the lessons? You can’t rush the process of recovery or skip a chapter because it’ll come back to haunt you, the only way is through so I may as well dive right in.