Hiding in the Shadows
Something I’ve learned about myself is that believing something with my head is a very different experience than embodying that feeling and believing it on a soul level. For me, inner peace lives on that soul level, and that’s where I strive to be. I can fool myself for a while by staying in my head when I’m not ready to dig deeper, but that’s just the same as putting my head in the sand and avoiding growth when I do that….and that’s not who I am, nor who I want to be.
Participating in any kind of numbing behavior or self-soothing behavior is completely natural for all humans. Everyone does it, but much of society judges some behaviors as acceptable and others as unacceptable. Binges on TV, food, substances, sexual behavior of some kind, gaming, shopping, social media, over working, etc., binges on any of those things and more all come from the same place…..the desire to numb. I don’t see it as either good or bad. I just see it as human nature. It’s not my job to judge where someone is on their journey It’s my job to make sure that I pay attention to my own journey, intentionally choose my path, and stay open to learning, growing, and accepting every part of myself with love as I see myself more and more clearly. But I still find ways to numb sometimes, just like everyone else does.
I’ve had this question rolling around in my head for quite a while, and the answer wasn’t coming to me. What is it that I hide from? I’ve looked at myself from a thousand different angles. I’ve grown by leaps and bounds. I’ve healed parts of myself that I didn’t even know needed healing. I’ve examined my triggers, owned them, worked with them, and understood them. I’ve learned to voice them to my children to help them understand me. And I’ve accepted the fact that my triggers are MY challenge, and that it’s not necessarily the rest of the world’s job to tip-toe around them all the time. But what do I hide from? What part of myself do I not want to see when I’m numbing. The question that has an even bigger charge is...What part of myself do I not want anyone else to see?
The answer to this question and the experience around it is very different for everyone, but we all have a part of ourselves that we fear sharing because we are afraid it will make us unlovable in some way. Some throw it out there in the beginning of a relationship as a means of pushing people away preemptively. Others hide it away for a long time because they can’t stand to look at it themselves. I’m someone who prides myself on loving and accepting myself exactly as I am, and I’ve worked really hard to get here. But I’ve realized that there’s a tiny bit that I’m not fully embodying on a soul level.
I am an intelligent, strong, independent woman. I’m blessed with amazing children and excellent people in my life. I’m living my life’s purpose. But sometimes, every once in a while, I feel a little bit needy. If I heard anyone else say that, I wouldn’t think a thing of it. But throwing that out there myself brings up a visual of the green barfing emoji and a dry-heaving sensation up my middle. Why is that? Intellectually, I know I’m not that needy. A lit bit fills me up and lasts a while. It’s more about quality than quantity for me. I think it disgusts me because there’s fear and vulnerability around it, but because of commitments I’ve made to myself, I have to be forthcoming about it. I have to walk the walk. The truth is that we all want to be accepted for exactly who we are, and in order to have that, we need to love and accept ourselves the same way. Being loved and accepted doesn’t mean that others are required to cater to your fear and vulnerability exactly the way you think you want them to. Sometimes they may be able to and other times they may need to put their own needs first. But there is growth in having someone sit with you in your need, tell you they see you and understand you, that they aren’t going anywhere, AND that they aren’t going to be able to fulfill what you feel you need in that moment. Not everyone can handle moments like that. It takes two people reading from the same playbook, and both people coming from a place of compassion. This is where I am in my life, and these are the kind of relationships that I choose to have because they feel the safest and most authentic. You never have to wonder where you stand, never have to wonder if the other person is taking care of themselves or expecting you to take care of them. You never have to wonder if there is resentment building. Whether it be friendship or partnership, this is the kind of transparent love and trust I choose.
Facing my neediness, that part of myself I wished would stay hiding in the shadows, is my growing edge. I’m committed to learning to love her a little more each day, and honoring the lessons I learn when facing her. I may call her a different name every once in a while, pretend she’s not around, or watch 15 episodes of something on Netflix because I’m not in the mood to deal with her in a particular moment…but I will love all of my perfectly imperfect parts, and trust others to do the same.