I’M FINE, read the journal heading, but like the line crossing out the well-worn phrase, I knew I wasn’t fine. When your body shuts down it is because it has been sending you messages that you could not understand, or recognize previously and the only way it could get your attention was to stop you in your tracks.
Even before this shut down, I knew something was wrong when after being a songbird that sang, played guitar and wrote songs my whole life, I stopped singing. You don’t just shut down without reason. Then a few years later when the writing stopped, too, I knew I wasn’t fine.
I’ve been through some difficult transitions, disappointments and losses and so it’s understandable that I might have been affected. That’s is why when I decided to get trained in Brenè Brown’s work a couple of years back, I knew it would be vital for me personally if I were to rise strong and dare greatly and boy I was right. It’s taken time, five years to be exact, of slowing down, letting go of forcing life, and sitting with myself for my off-loaded and stockpiled emotions to surface like bobbers, so I could truly identify them.
Five years might have been the same amount of time it took me as a child to slough off my tender carefree skin and take on a world much too big for me to manage. That might have been the time I said goodbye to my untamed heart and decided I would bury it and instead perform and please all those around that never talked about their hearts and take care of those of us that were gaping for care. That’s when I chose the hero role.
When you’re a “feeler” and you decide to disregard the thing in you that feels, you’re in trouble. And no matter how hard you try to perform and ignore it, it’s just not going to work. Things will get jumbled up inside.
Even though my childhood gypsy costume expressed my untamed heart like my mother, what was modeled for me by the “respectable folks” was the antithesis, so it’s no wonder I choose to follow the acceptable crowd instead of the black sheep on the crazy train. Sadly, my heartbreaks for haven chosen wrongly, but I was a child lacking skills and grasping for survival, not meaning to orphan large parts of myself.
This recent five years have led me on my own train of re-discovery, recapturing the orphaned pieces I left off at previous junctions. The parts labeled cast off, I have now come to welcome, seeing that the crazy train isn’t all crazy. And now I’m even a little endeared to crazy, because all real courage and creativity often looks a bit mad.
A Safe Place
In the 80’s my husband Bill and I facilitated a group named, The Safe Place Group. I never knew then that that would be a reoccurring theme for my life. It’s only through connecting with safe people and making ourselves a safe place that we will be able to welcome the deepest parts of ourselves, such as our creativity and our own brand of crazy.
Breaking with the Pack
It’s from this safe place that we can break with the internal and outer packs that keep everything looking nice on the outside, while the inside decays. It’s where we learn to break with other’s rules, rhetoric, and dogma, because the law doesn’t speak heart, grace does.
- I’ve broken with the pack that never talks about feelings, due to the shame buried six feet under.
- I’ve broken with the pack of revering certain kinds of successes, all shiny with the appearance of acceptable living, neatly dusted and in order, while heart is missing.
- I’ve returned to the voice I’ve heard in the distance, my own voice calling me home.
It’s not a bad trade off, to finally give oneself permission to let go of being the hero and turning those hero antics in our own direction. It’s amazing to climb into the nurture that’s always been needed when we kindly give it to ourselves.
We can get a second chance to pick straws, slough off hero,ghost or black sheep, and show ourselves some self-respect. And amazingly there will be plenty of volunteers to rush in and carry the platters the hero throws down, earning the dubious accolades that keep the hero performing! However, one will never be feed by more duty. It’s only when the inner light is alive and we show up true that we will feed anyone, but first we must feed ourselves.
What I’ve found on this journey is that there are very few who are willing to show up, really show up to reveal the truth below the veneer, where there is a little child needing to be heard, seen and loved. I think that is largely, because few of us are truly safe places.
And there are few that recognize that I’M FINE is a lie and will sit across the table and speak about it, hold the space for others to show up and be seen. There are few with enough shame resilience to listen without spiraling into their own pile of shame, fixing, or offloading emotions with every tactic known to man and even when doing all of the above, circling back around to revisit the fall.
Those courageous enough to face their inner worlds are the people worth noticing. They are the ones that are learning how to stand tall in their own stories and how to become a safe place for themselves and others. They are the ones welcoming their breakdowns spiritual awakenings and honest enough to speak, reclaim and welcome their own kind of crazy. They are the ones that have returned home.