What might it mean to unconditionally accept and love ourselves just as we are, even for what others have judged to be unacceptable? How might it feel just to open our hearts to both the welcome and unwelcome feelings that we meet on any day without rejecting or resisting? What might it mean for us if instead of focusing on where we need to get to in order to feel better, we paid better attention to this valuable moment in order to learn essential lessons? These are some questions which are deeply on my mind at present.
One of the affects of being brought up without much attention and validation is that you are left alone a lot and that may be a good thing in that you get time to focus on what you love such as reading, thinking or nature but if you were at the same time led to believe there is something wrong with the way you inherently are or with the way you approach things then it is not going to be easy to be able to just be with, love and accept yourself as you are. To a large degree what happens is that you end up not really knowing or validating who you are, you also end up forcing yourself to agendas imposed from without. You may also become a target for those who love to advise others in order to hide from themselves, who see qualities in you they reject in themselves or were rejected for when young, who then try to fill your head with all kinds of rejecting voices.
I was recently reading a list of emotionally invalidating comments on a website on line and one of then was “what’s wrong with you?”. The implication being that there was something wrong because you had a certain reaction to something. One of my mother’s favourite questions when I am sad is “what’s wrong?”. I remember a few years ago going on a retreat with a friend who had her own agenda and really struggled with empathy. I was feeling really sad due to the energy I picked up at what was an abandoned monastery and was crying a lot “what’s wrong with you?” she asked in quiet an aggressive way. I went off into the chapel and had a rage attack. Only to be told there was also something wrong with me for being angry a few months later.
Truth is I was feeling a lot of deep things at the time, feelings that were not easy to articulate in words and her expression was a trigger for me of times I was struggling with deep feelings and faced with a mother who was not emotionally literate enough to cope with them. An empathetic way of asking may have gone something like this. “Wow, you seem really sad, what is going on?”
Like me, my then friend was a recovering alcoholic. She came from a low nurturance home and she was very, very like my mother in many ways. Since she had more sobriety than me I looked up to her, but our friendship came unstuck after this as we were not capable of sharing a deepening intimacy which would allow for the communication and understanding of each other’s feelings.
I’ve learned a lot more since then about my emotions, about why I have had such a hard time understanding, articulating them and most essentially about the struggle I had growing in not having them empathised with, mirrored, validated nor understood. And the truth is that when we have this kind of conditioning, in the end we tend up attracting the same in order that we can grow and learn and change the pattern.
My experience is that we end up meeting the same lesson over and over. I have just made the decision to end with one therapist because her capacity to mirror and hold has been limited. I am about to end with another one who I came to understand from our last session doesn’t really understand the place of and connection between self assertion and anger and is subtly leading me astray. I am lucky to have found a new therapist who seems to me much more fully engaged with her own lively energy and has a greater capacity to mirror and articulate to me in ways that lessen my confusion and lead me to a greater clarity.
After my session with her yesterday in which I could both laugh and cry I came away feeling so light, calm, peaceful and relaxed which to me I now know is a sure sign I am in the right place. It has been a big thing for me to say to my old therapist that this new one will be better for me. Part of me felt really scared when I felt the need to do this. I’m a bit of a co-dependent caretaker. I don’t like to hurt others and I try to protect their feelings, but I am beginning to see that if this comes at the cost of my own true needs it isn’t a healthy thing to do.
Its taken me a few hours of blogging today to get into a clearer space. I am beginning to understand how unconditionally accepting all of my feelings and learning from them is so essential. I need to be a place of clarity from now on. With all my Neptune squares I have lived for years in a fog which comes from never having developing a fully functioning ego in the positive sense, but rather a fractured, porous one. That my ego boundaries are healing and I am becoming more aware and clearer is such precious gift to me.
It feels to me that for years I have been symbolically standing on soggy ground that could give way any time. Now I am feeling more as thought I am standing on firmer ground, at least when it comes to understanding myself and unconditionally accepting my own feelings. This feels like a much more comfortable place to live.