Crazy as this sounds, finding validation within, is a real struggle for me. I tend to rely on directives outside of myself, hammer down my needs, willingly give up my power in order to avoid conflict. I’m a nine on the enneagram chart, this is the peacekeeper type, I’ll just “peace out” if need be rather than causing a ruckus over my latent desires. This was the matrix I grew up with, deeply ingrained, an era where women were encouraged to be seen and not heard.
The confidence to do what is right for me is difficult, in fact as I’m writing this sentence I feel not only guilt, but fear.
Due to a series of unfortunate events this idea has been reinforced over the years. It was near the turn of the century, I was struggling with a stubborn illness, when a close friend called to see if her family could stay for the weekend, as they were passing through town.
At the time, I had four teenagers living under my roof, a husband who traveled for business, I was enrolled in graduate school, planning a 50th anniversary event for my parents, which included a seven day cruise with the entire family. Scrambling to pass my comprehensive exams, plan a high school graduation party for my oldest, and prepare the family for a vacation that required cruise wear. I was burning the candle at both ends, half way through a second round of antibiotics, and just beginning to believe I was going to live.
I would normally rejoice over a friends request for shelter, but I girded my loins, over-explained my illness, and gently declined the request. The relationship changed, it was as if my refusal to offer hospitality (which is extremely important to me), was a reflection of my feelings, not a condition of a lingering illness?
It happened, and it scared me, not scare, but scar.
Is this how we teach people (unintentionally) that their needs are not important? It’s natural to resist unexpected changes but what have I learned (yes, I’m in the slow group)?
- When we ignore our intuition to say “no,” or fail to accommodate our own needs, we invalidate the voice within, it gets quieter, not louder, and before long we are no good to anyone, as if a reed in the wind, we automatically bend to the demands of others.
- Making rash decisions is never good (this is my downfall), look at all the facts first, get quiet, consider the possibilities, seek advice if necessary, then name the decision, and follow through with confidence.
- Acceptance is difficult for me when someone alters the plans, but time after time I fail to trust what IS happening, over what I want to happen. More often then not the alteration made for a better fit.
Brown reminds us that we cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness and affection.
I failed to tell my friend the truth, I needed help, I was hanging on by my fingernails, dropping balls like a bingo machine, and deathly afraid of letting people down, maybe then she would have not only understood, but empathized?
Is guilt the culprit when relationships shift in this way? Guilt is such a powerful force and when I sit with her I usually learn something about myself.
How to repair the damage, mend the fence, because as I learned at a recent conference on forgiveness, living with peace in our hearts requires an unlimited amount of forgiveness. As Jesus claims, we should forgive each other “seventy times seven times,” a number that symbolizes boundlessness. However, even though he preaches boundless forgiveness, he does not indicate whether or not forgiveness has conditions?
Something to ponder when I can’t sleep?
- When someone acts in a harmful way towards you, but does not seek forgiveness, repair, or repentance, is forgiveness even required?
- If forgiveness is asked for and granted, does that oblige one to fully redeem the perpetrator (especially if the crime is grievous), and welcome them back into your life?
- Can you forgive someone for sins they enacted against someone else?
Does it matter if it is someone you can’t live without?
When we change who we are in order to belong we deny the one person we can’t live without. Ourselves. Why did I stop writing for years? Was I looking for permission? Or worse, blaming others for my own insecurities? Maybe forgiveness starts with myself.
I still struggle with feelings of guilt associated with the time I spend writing. It’s an occupational hazard for writers, who would rather write then eat, which is good because we don’t get paid. Thank God for my day job, it’s validates my existence, well that and my charm.my new BFF says, “if we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can’t survive.” Understatement of the year.
My husband said to me just yesterday, “you were sitting on your butt for hours doing nothing,” when I complained about his participation in preparing for a recent family dinner. It’s true, I was sitting on my butt for hours, but I was writing. This time I silenced my guilt, and used humor to deflect the criticism, which was really his attempt to shift the focus from him to me, and it worked. I believe he may come to regret those feisty words as they have become my favorite tag line. This is why writers are so desperate to make the New York Times Best Seller List, to validate all the time we spend sitting on our butts, doing nothing.
The first book I ever wrote hibernates in a file on my computer, it’s called Under Reconstruction, but it helped me come to the realization that story is a powerful tool for change, especially when I’m trying to redefine my own issues. Our stories are not meant for everyone. Hearing them is a privilege, and we should always ask ourselves this before we share: “Who has earned the right to hear my story? If we have one or two people in our lives who can sit with us and hold space for our stories, and love us for our strengths and struggles, we are incredibly lucky, claims
This is an excerpt from Under Reconstruction
I am clumsy, wear glasses, occasionally drink too much. I think Shakespeare may have been a girl, who like me messed up the laundry, lost time when writing, and secretly didn’t care.
I wake from dreams with questions but eventually realize I’m still sleeping. It was the coffee that brought me back and maybe the egg, hardboiled, broken. Every day I say I’ll clean out the games cupboard, it’s a lie, I straighten the forks instead.
Did God underestimate the treachery of her own creation? Jesus knew, he forgave us anyway, and I think that’s why we remember him.
I want this home to be remembered, to drag them back from the world, as if my umbilical cord were some sort of bungee, I want my words to linger on your mind, to tuck you in when far away, and you can’t sleep.
Do your eyes see what I see husband, try harder, put your head next to mine.
Do you smell the coffee on my breath, there’s a full pot, I’ll pour you a cup, because I want to be someone you can’t live without.
I’m realizing something new every day in this workshop organized by Seth Godin. I am the only one who knows what is right for me. I’m ready to captain my craft, create my own wake (love that word), aim for the unknown, I might be late my dear friend, but I’ll get there.
I’mLiving in the Gap, drop by anytime, these thoughts are jumbled, they will be for the next 90 days, as I scramble from workshop, to class, to sitting on my ass doing nothing.
- “You either walk inside your story and own it or you stand outside your story and hustle for your worthiness.”