We know ourselves. This has come to me recently in a conscious way.
We all know when something isn’t right within us and amongst us. What we do with this is where we need to place our attention. What do I mean by this? For many of us, when we know something isn’t right— what do we do about this? Do we try to understand what it is? Or do we push it away and put our energy to functioning as if all is well?
We also know when something is right with us. Most of us would like if others noticed this. Again, what we do with this is where we need to focus our attention.
Is it enough that we know this? Is it enough that we truly do know ourselves? Or do we believe we need the other? Do we not trust ourselves to know who we are?
If we did, imagine what that might mean?
Perhaps we do not know because from right out of the womb, even before, when our parents paint our rooms blue or pink, we are told who we are, what we will like. In school we are taught what “they” think we don’t know and need to know, and on and on it goes.
But we know. We know ourselves more than anyone else can know. And this is the key to our unfolding, our conscious knowing of who we truly are and also, who we are not.
I want to be admired and I also fight against it. The fight against it has mostly won. And, has come at a price. I hide. I have been stingy with sharing and passive/aggressive about it. I have silently said to readers, followers and potential ones:
look at me dammit. Pay attention to me. Admire my face and my insights. So I show off.
And then on the flip side I’ve said:
forget you. I know you won’t notice me. See I knew it- no likes. Another post of such great words (I mean I have the best words) and no one cares. So I shut down.
This has been my dance with all of you (and my nearest and dearest ones). It’s dysfunctional and toxic and not how I want to show up in the world. Therefore, I have mostly remained hidden. This is also unhealthy because the truth of me, and all that I’ve come to realize about life and myself, wants and needs to be exposed.
The truth is I’ve reacted to all of you, which is really just my own battle with myself that I’ve drafted you all in, and it comes out of a conditioning that came from my upbringing.
Essentially, I was ignored. I longed to be deeply seen. I know now it wasn’t personal. It was the impact of being raised by those who did not see themselves.
Until we see ourselves we cannot and will not see another.
If the desire to be seen, and essentially deeply known and valued, is not identified and satisfied, this desire becomes increasingly toxic. At its worst it becomes the dance I have described- on one end a compulsion to be admired, which can be as extreme and defined by a narcissistic personality disorder. And on the other end, a complete erasure of self characterized by self-neglect.
The desire to be admired is a trap, part of the psychological mindset, which creates dysfunctional and protective patterns and behaviors. In the age of social media and a particularly exaggerated version of an admiration-seeking U.S. president, we are afforded the opportunity to really look at the deep inner wound of neglect and abandonment. In doing so, we can limit the toxic interplay it does create and instead tease out the toxins and understand, and most importantly feel the hurt of not being seen.
This post is part of my own teasing, a confession in a way to make the dysfunctional dynamics known and to state I want to now come to all of you, readers and followers, and to my family and friends, in a more authentic and whole way. To share only to be admired comes from the smallest of self and truly not worthy of any of us. This way of showing up is also not sustainable and will eventually come back to haunt us us in one form or another.
We may never be able to be truly seen by another or by our primary caregivers. But we always have the opportunity to heal the wound and to fully see ourselves. The more of us that do this, the more we will see each other. Only this will bring the kind of shift so many of us desire in the world.
The dominant culture, which is mostly reactivity from unprocessed trauma, tells us that we aren’t supposed to let people hurt us. But the truth is people do hurt us.
My mom hurt me today. And there’s been plenty of other days as well. As her young child I was constantly hurt. I learned to cope and self-protect through a variety of ways. As a child, it was through art, music, books and my imagination. As I grew older, other ways were through perfectionism, OCD and controlling behaviors and the big one: codependency.
Today, I stopped taking her hurt. I set a firm boundary. And then I let myself be hurt. When our mothers hurt us it’s the ultimate betrayal. If the hurt is constant and consistent, we will learn to betray ourselves. We will make choices and create an entire life and get involved in relationships from this deepest wound.
If we are brave and committed to change, we will begin to awaken to our life built from self-betrayal, and we will feel shattered. At the very least, bruised. And, this is the place where we learn self-love, self-compassion, and forgiveness of self and others. It is a deep and holy space of grief, surrender and heart opening. We will learn self-love and begin, little by little, to create a life for ourselves painted from the womb of our rebirth and our deepest reckoning with ourselves.
We will recognize that we no longer need to protect ourselves from hurt. We will come to experience our heart as strong, worthy, willing and ready to feel feelings and remain stabilized. We will learn the difference between self-betrayal and self-love. We will see setting boundaries and making conscious choices as our gateway to creating new experiences, experiences based and waged in self-love.
To continue on this self-love journey, my self-reflective practice for the month of November is this….to explore, experience and learn:
What does self-love look like in my relationships…..
Beyond relationships, what does it look like for me in my life…. How do I paint and create my experiences through self-love?
The parade in our town today clarified what I have done as a white woman with bi-racial children…
To all the times I brought my children to white spaces, moved to white neighborhoods, enrolled them in white schools- I am sorry and deeply ashamed of my ignorance.
I feel it now, more than ever- these words: “white supremacy is not a shark; it is the water. “ Guante
I get a small taste of the terror and discomfort, the trauma of being a brown body in this water. I am angry, which is a privilege of white skin, at the levels of energy it takes to accommodate and appease this white nonsense- to play nice in white work places- and can only imagine their exhaustion.
I feel this whiteness in a way I never have and I’m horrified. As though I’ve fully awakened from a spell that made me live as if this water was made for everyone. It’s not.
This awakening was and is a process that I want ALL white people to be responsible for. To believe in white superiority, to attach to whiteness is one of the biggest lies ever believed. It will crush those who don’t realize this. And so be it because the water is changing.
To my children, I wish I had understood sooner. It was thoughtlessly out of touch of me to be blind to this part of you. I fell in love with a black man. I wanted a family. I believe in the divine within us and most of your upbringing I ignored your experience as also a human being in brown skin, barely swimming in this water, but mostly isolated and struggling not to drown in it.
No apology can erase the impact of this. And I’m not here to give false hopes and promises in a nation still deeply young and divided, struggling to know itself. But I do see you and hold the space for all of you and all of your experiences more than I ever have, and it is my deepest desire that this water nourishes, supports and allows for splashing, deep dives and takes you to wherever you want to go.
We are caught by our locked-in social patterns, and by our cultural and religious norms. We are proud to exhibit these behaviors because it puts us on record, that we follow these cultural norms, and that we identify with them, and thus, we are entitled to belong.
Lesson to William Wordsworth’s, (1770-1850), lament:
The world is too much with us; late and soon, Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers: Little we see in Nature that is ours; We have given ours hearts away, a sordid boon! The Sea that bares her bosom to the moon ; The winds that will be howling at all hours, And are up-gathered now like the sleeping flowers; For this, for everything, we are out of tune; It moves us not.—Great God! I’d rather be A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn; So might I, standing on the pleasant lea, Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn; Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea; Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.
To continue reading, visit Lou’s blog by clicking here.
My dad once wrote, inside my Shel Silverstein’s book, A Light in the Attic:
Poems are the purest expression of ourselves. Always be true to yourself and make your life a great, living poem.
This has been a challenging few weeks for me. There have been many shifts and changes. As I find myself in the space between here and there, when one way of being has ended and before a new way begins, I resist the urge to create from a space of urgency and distract from discomfort. Instead I remind myself to be curious, open, and to listen and lean in to what is before me, even if it only feels like empty space and nothing new is here for me.
This morning, I did not stew in my bed with my unhealthy thoughts. Instead I did two things: I yelled at my Higher Self (something I have never done) and said: WHERE ARE YOU? YOU SEE ME STRUGGLING! WHY AREN’T YOU HELPING ME? DON’T JUST SIT THERE AND WATCH ME SQUIRM! and then I went on a walk. As I made my way on the path, my Higher Self said: Listen. And I did. What I heard is below. The opening to my Higher Self begins with this trickle of water:
Personally, I feel I like I can tune in even more. I can do this by slowing everything down and being present. When I do this, I instantly receive information that tells me what changes are occurring within me.
One of the changes occurring was triggered when my daughter, who is an esthetician, asked to do eye make up on me. I told her to do something bold and bright— something I’d never do on myself. Here is the result:
At first, when I looked in the mirror, I had a two second identity crisis: who the hell am I? When I woke up the next morning, having removed the make up, I felt like it was the first day of the rest of my life. I realized there is big, full life out there for me to experience. Creating a new look on my face helped me to see how much I play myself down in order to not be seen. And this made me feel it is time to grieve the way I’ve been playing and let it go.
Sometimes what we think is our personality— the who we think we are— is actually a product of deep insecurities and fears. Once faced, processed and understood, we begin to see that beneath this—who we thought we were— is not really who we are.
What I am coming to understand is the person I thought I was expressed from an old tape of fear and neglect. Who I really am expresses from a divine intensity inside of me. She is a whole other person who lives, laughs and loves with that intensity— and maybe even wears bright make up.
To end, click on my video I posted today. I came out with no make up giving shout outs to those of us working real hard expanding our consciousness and self-awareness and finding the hope in that. Click here to listen.
For some, this month may make us feel we are in a strange time. This strangeness is not new, however. It’s just becoming more visible.
Strange is defined as “unusual or surprising in a way that is unsettling or hard to understand.” This is why the best guidance for this strange time is for us to be acutely attuned, present and aware as much as we possibly can. Further, not so much about what’s going on outside (we know that’s strange), but what is going on inside.
There are many subtle and not so subtle happenings occurring during this time. June holds the Summer Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere. The season is in full bloom, awakening from its winter sleep. We use our primary senses to notice this: trees are green, the sun is hot, the smell of flowers and fresh cut grass, the sound of birds and insects and children playing. These are the obvious signs a change of season has occurred. But what about the the less obvious signs that brought this change?
For example, the other day, after pulling some pretty intense weeds, I took a rest on my lawn chair under a tree. Ready to rest, read my book and soak in the sun, swarms of gnats from all directions came at my forehead, lips, hair, and glasses. They were relentless, and it was irritating. It was all too easy to get caught up in it all and just complain, which I did by sending my husband a text about it. But, there was another, deeper occurrence within me— I wondered why. I knew it was unusual to have so many gnats. I’d never noticed it quite like this before. There must be a reason. I thought about the winter, all the snow and all the months of it. Then the spring and all the flooding. I thought about how the river, which is near where I live, is still flooded. I googled “increase in gnats” and found some clues. And finally, I just opened my book and let the gnats do what they do.
There are reasons why things occur. We have a choice to pay attention or not. If we do not like the changes, we can choose to complain or dig deeper. We can choose to be a victim or be curious. And, we can always open to acceptance of what is.
Humanity is having a growth spurt, and it’s intense. When children have growth spurts, the rapid changes in their physical body can make them clumsy and awkward. If it’s a hormonal growth spurt, like puberty, then things can get really interesting. Shall we say, strange…..?
When humanity is having a growth spurt, life can look much like it has: chaotic, scary, and often shocking—having many of us shaking our damn heads or constantly rolling our eyes. Many of us are also complaining about what’s happening, and choosing to be victims and feeling hopeless, even apathetic. During this time we are also noticing constructive and creative happenings that make us say wow, bring a tear to our eye and give us hope. This is a time where it is all too easy to keep our primary senses engaged in the chaos and the construction. But, from what I am gathering, June needs to be a time to bring our attention within, on ourselves. To be engaged within, to be curious and dig deeper.
So much has happened “out there” lately. But what is happening “in here”, in us. How are we doing? How are we feeling? What have we gathered over these past few intense months, and maybe years, that needs to processed and metabolized. What of all of this can be used for growth and healing and what can be let go? Beyond this process, what is occurring right now, in the present moment, that needs our attention? Essentially, why are we where we are? And the answers are often subtle.
There are forces that create everything. We are a force and so I am asking us to get clear about what we are creating.
You see we cannot continue to get caught up in the outer chaos because we are at risk of losing our way in it and then find ourselves somewhere we really do not want to be, and strangely, if this occurred, ask ourselves what the hell happened— how’d we get here? LET US NOT GET TO THIS POINT. WE ARE BETTER THAN THAT.
Instead, let us use this opportunity of June to slow it all down, stretch it all out and use our curiosity to check in with our selves, our souls, our bodies. Let us wonder: how did we get here….what are the subtle and often unconscious forces that brought us here….and what are the subtle forces bringing us forward….? Let our inner wisdom provide us with guidance. Because we cannot afford to live unconsciously right now.
As June moves on and I open to more subtleties of the energy of this time, I will share them. But for now, stay attuned, awake and aware to what is just below the chaotic surface of our existence. This is where we can fully sense what is occurring and not only be a part of the shift, but create our own for the betterment of humanity and our planet.
This week I’d like to start by sharing a poem I wrote while in the midst of some buried trauma and pain around validation seeking.
I wonder if this is how children feel…
Who is listening? And who is there to talk to?
Who is there that isn’t too drunk? Too high? Too distracted? Too wounded? Too insane? Too selfish?
This deprivation turns to desperation. And then to rage.
Who is listening? Who is there to talk to? Who has space for me?
We are all in the same boat. Violently rocking. Or barely hanging on. Or with a stiff drink in our own hand thinking: this is the life.
But is it?
Do I need you to see me to know I exist? To know my experience matters? Do I need you to hold my space?
Where am I in this? Can I do it without you?
Is it too much to ask a wounded mother and father to do this?
Is it appropriate for that same wounded mother or father to ask their child to do this?
Who is listening? Who is there to talk to?
This poem could go further. I thought it might. But, turns out I had to live it through a little deeper in my own life in order to finish this piece on validation.
What I now understand is that poem is from the old story. Old does not make in now invalid. Instead this story is valuable, essential and leads me to where I am now where it is old enough to gain perspective and understanding in order to let it go and make room for a new story.
I cannot proclaim to know all the pieces of the new story yet. The new story is unfolding. But here are some pieces that I have gathered so far….
Piece One, The Repair Journey: On my walk this afternoon, I listened to a Super Soul podcast of Elizabeth Lesser. She spoke about her book, Marrow: A Love Story and the work she and her sister did together to repair their relationship. She posed the question: Who do we need to clean up space with so we can truly connect? Who have we hurt? And, then ask and listen.
We hurt people in many ways, often stemming from our wounds of neglect and trauma. One of the ways we hurt people is by expecting them to meet our needs and to validate us.
Piece Two, The Spirit & Soul Journey: Maya Angelou said, beware of the naked man who gives you his shirt. She also said she doesn’t trust anyone that says I love you when they don’t love themselves. I remember my mother telling me to look in the mirror and say: I love myself. And, my mother didn’t, and doesn’t love herself. It has been a strained relationship, but in many ways I took her words to heart. It framed a life, my life. I have been on the self-love journey this entire time.
To begin Repair: As we step into our reflective practice on seeking validation, let’s be curious about which relationships in our lives need some tidying up. Who can we do some repair work with? Who have we hurt, and then ask and listen, defenses down. Also, consider is this person safe, willing and ready to begin the process. There are some people who, at this time, are far too wounded and therefore will be too defensive to clear space with.
To begin the Conscious Spirit & Soul Journey: Consider that you are on a self-love journey, no matter how low or how badly you feel about yourself. Do you believe this to be true? Then, where do you think you are on this journey? Are you the kind of person who is naked, but giving your shirt away? Or do you have so many shirts and won’t consider sharing one? Either behavior shows there is an imbalance within the relationship with yourself. What if you looked in the mirror and said: I love myself? Notice what you feel. What you think. Do you believe it?
Which brings me to the next piece…..
The New Story
This weekend, while journaling, I understood that a new rhythm unfolds inside of me. The Voice Inside says to me gently: let it happen. No need to figure it out, alter it, halt it. Let it occur.
This new rhythm is of my own making. I no longer beat to the drum of my old childhood wounds and buried trauma. There is a new sound coming forth.
Here is the poem of this new sound:
There is a new rhythm coming forth.
It is of my own making.
Why would I do anything to disrupt and disturb it.
It is coming together to create a new dance in all of my relationships. In the relationship with myself.
It comes with a trust toward my eternal and steadfast vision of the person I want to be, the person I know I am.
It is not a head path or the old wounded way.
It is a soul path, a heart path.
And it is unfolding, and I am watching, noticing and gratefully looking forward to what is transpiring.
In this new rhythm I begin to understand I am fully nourished by Spirit, by my Soul’s Journey. My my very own Self.
As always, I am here to help you investigate this topic because sometimes it’s a lot to do this on our own. If you have questions about this week’s practice or have insights to share, please contact me. For deeper, more concentrated work, I am available for tele-therapy.
To learn more about me and my services, click here. To reach me for questions or to share, click here or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Validation: “recognition or affirmation that a person or their feelings or opinions are valid or worthwhile”
A child is sitting alone at home after school. The dad comes home from work and doesn’t say hello or ask, “How was your day?” The dad doesn’t even make eye contact with the child.
A new employee has just been hired. The boss takes her around the first day, introduces her to people and shows her to her desk. The boss then leaves her alone indefinitely.
A husband and wife lie in bed. The wife stares at the ceiling. Her husband is on his phone.
I often hear people say, mostly women— particularly younger women, that they need validation. I’ve never thought: me too. In fact, I’ve thought validation does not matter to me.
Until recently, when it occurred to me that I received so little validation as a child that how could I know to want something I didn’t know existed. This occurrence uncovered a deep wound of deprivation— deprivation of words, of energy and attention, of presence and acknowledgement from the caregivers and other taller people around me.
Instead of wanting something I could not have, it made sense to push that need deep, deep into the darkness— into a dark room and shut the door. But, the door to the dark room wasn’t sealed. Over time, the stench of that need for validation, created a belief: I am not worthy. I do not matter. It may have even gone so deep that I wondered: did I even exist?
Most things, I am finding, are on a spectrum. I believe the vast majority of us were neglected as children, of at least one fundamental need, and that experience of neglect lies on a spectrum. I was bathed, fed, read to. I have memories of my father rubbing my temples after a hard week with mom. I have fewer memories of my mother’s validation.
I also remember my grandmother Lillian. We sat on her gold sofa playing Uno. She handed me $20 bills. Her eyes lit up when she saw me. I called her my pal. I remember my Aunt Flo who lived in Chicago, where I visited at least once a year. Walking through her door was immediate love and acceptance by her pinch of my cheeks and the twinkle in her eyes. I cling to the memory of these two women. They saw me. They showed me I existed and more, could be loved.
Can I venture to say, we all carry the deep wound of neglect somewhere inside of us….?
Sadly, when the stench of unworthiness takes up space in our being, we attract all the people and experiences that show us we are not worthy. More sad, if we do not see these experiences as opportunities to heal, we create a story and our unworthiness sets in like a stone corpse. It’s concreted now: we do not matter.
I write this today because I don’t want any of us to concrete the belief: I don’t matter. If we have, there’s still time to break it apart to the point where it becomes dust and can be blown away by our own breath.
We matter. And depending on where we are on the spectrum of neglect, it can take many years of uncovering this wound, allowing it to heal, and recreating a life, not of the stench of unworthiness, but of the fragrance of mercy and the pure delight of our existence.
The self-reflective practice for this week is to do some investigative journaling and mindful reflection. Notice if you seek validation. To help, notice where you have a story about something or someone. For instance, in the example I gave above about the new employee and the boss: he may have had complete confidence in her abilities and that is why, after showing her around, he let her be. However, if she isn’t sure about herself and her own abilities, she might start looking for him to validate her. She won’t ask him to- because who does that, right- especially with a boss? Then, she might start creating stories, talking to her co-workers, and eventually might become paranoid of her position or resentful of what she perceives as neglect from her boss.
As we can see, this can get very complicated. When really, it is quite simple. But I won’t get into that for this week. First, we need to notice where we are on the spectrum of seeking validation. Where we are on that spectrum will point to where we are on the spectrum of neglect, often from childhood.
I am here to help you investigate this topic because sometimes it’s a lot to do this on our own. If you have questions about this week’s practice or have insights to share, please contact me. For deeper, more concentrated work, I am available for tele-therapy.
To learn more about me and my services, click here. To reach me for questions or to share, click here or email me at email@example.com
Next week, I will unravel this complicated validation journey and share ways toward self-validation and ultimately, self-love.