“Every Saint has a past, every Sinner has a future” Oscar Wilde.
I was asked this recently “What is the dominant thought that holds me back from sacred success in my business?”
My response: “I am not worthy and a fraud.”
The common extension of “I am not good enough” is a daily thought companion of mine. My inner bitch is rampant and regular in ‘bringing me back to earth’ or dismantling my dreams.
I don’t imagine that I am alone in the “I am not good enough” story, that many of you out there have a similar inner critic that pokes at you? That stops you from progressing?
My inner bitch and the not good enough story is not isolated to my business success, she also features heavily in my personal relationships, both with people and pets.
My inner bitch is a bully.
She isolates me, she makes me feel bad, she deliberately sabotages my performance, she is relentless.
When I am hooked by this thinking, I dis-engage with others. I stop talking to people, I avoid places I used to enjoy, I behave badly.
I have an intellectual understanding on what is happening with my thought bully, and how she has such power over me, it is the work to give her the room she needs and not the attention she craves that I am still progressing.
If I can take a moment to make space for my inner bitch, and consider what is underneath her presence, then I can put energy and action into what makes my life rich and fulfilling.
What is it that feeds my thought bully? Shame and grief.
My life, in recent years, has endured a number of traumatic situations, including; divorce and death of a child and other events, and these have left me with enhanced shame.
Rather than my thoughts being “I am feeling bad.”
My thoughts say “I am bad and I deserve the pain.”
Grief and loss disconnects you from who you used to be, and what you used to do.
And whilst grieving and in trauma, I have behaved incongruent with the person I would like to be. I have become isolated, brittle, avoided events and sporting clubs I used to attend, turned down invitations, said things out of turn, snapped at peoples offer of condolences. All of this has fuelled my shame.
All of this has made my inner bitch, my thought bully, more powerful and impactful in my daily choices. At my worst I have held valid ideations of suicidality, to relieve the pain, and at my best I don’t answer the phone.
I do not want to die, I just want the pain, the loneliness, the isolation to stop, it is: intolerable, interminable and inescapable.
So, I look to what lies deep underneath my inner bitch, and that is my need for Connection or True-belonging.
Because of my shame story, I have not been able to reconnect with the activities and people in my life that I was involved with before my life inextricably changed. I am not sure if this is a permanent situation or something that may change overtime: it took an instant to kill these relationships and may take years to re-build, if they can be re-built at all – Trust.
True-belonging is not the same as fitting-in. For me, fitting-in implies I have the ability to mould myself to an expectation or story that other’s hold about me. Grief and shame come with a rigidity and unpredictable inflexibility that means you no longer fit into the image of your past.
One of my most powerful lifesavers through isolation has been my little dog, Yogi. He is loving, accepting, forgiving and rarely offers advice. He gives me reason to love in return. He epitomizes connection. (Sometimes a little too closely, I can pee alone)
With an acute awareness of a need for connection, I am looking to seek out new chapters in my life. This has only been happening in small iterations over the last six months, and is a slow progress of activities. The progress is also not linear, or a continual path, there are days, weeks where I am ‘back to square one’, and have to start again.
What am I doing?
I am learning to ride a motorbike, and have joined a female riders group to learn with – who have immediately welcomed me. The feeling of gliding down a weaving road is one closest to flying that I can find. On a motorbike there is no space for maudlin thoughts or distractions outside oneself, you must be alert and present for everything. After a hard day, just 35 mins on my bike and I have lifted many hours of pain from my shoulders. I can also ride alone, I can head off on adventures and be present with and to myself. In a busy farm life and running my own business, these moments can be rare.
I have adopted a number of ageing animals that have struggled with the drought. I find tremendous joy in sitting with them whilst they eat a hearty meal of oaten hay, and peacefully acknowledge my presence. Bit-by-bit I am being allowed to sit closer to them and to truly share their relief at being loved in their old age.
I am extending the service I offer in my retreat, providing self care activities and opportunities to my guests and also providing time and a peaceful space for others in trauma to pause and collect their thoughts. Also, families come to stay and the children help me care for the animals. My thinking is that for our children to learn the value of all life and how kindness is lived in all living things – maybe I can change the world.
I am reading again. For the first two or so years after my son died, I was not able to read. Oh, I could read the words, but my brain was not able to decipher the words. I have now read a number of fiction novels, loving and light genres, and am now venturing into the non-fiction texts of some of my favourite authors. I am not ‘cured’, and have had to adapt by making many notes in margins and putting many sticky-notes to remind myself of my thinking when I read that sentence.
I can hear music again. It has only been in the last few weeks that I have put the radio on in the car again. I have been driving a silent car for over three years. I do play music some days at home, but the playlist is one connected to my son and the time around his death, so keeps me rooted in an emotional past. I am trying to find new music.
I saw a former friend at the local markets recently. She hasn’t talked to me for over two years, and I honestly no longer have a real recollection of what destroyed our relationship. I do believe it was all my fault. What was different when I saw her was my reaction. I have lost many nights sleep and wept many tears for the loss of our friendship, she was a stalwart through my divorce, and every time I thought of her or if I happened to see her, I was physically nauseous and couldn’t catch my breath. Yet, this time I could truly smile when I saw her, I could hold a two minute conversation and I walked away feeling OK, not great, but OK. I wasn’t going to lose sleep anymore.
In my plan for 2019 is the goal to reach out to a few like minded colleagues to ask for help, to connect with another and build a world changing impact. I don’t know what this is yet, but I have a deep sense that it is time for me to work alongside another, rather than standing alone.
Finally, I am reaching inwards to find my physical healthy self again. I am giving myself 30 minutes of physical exercise each day, a small start but significant. One of my biggest challenges in exposing my physical health is, this is the domain where my inner bitch is strongest. I have been incredibly fit and incredibly fat throughout my life, and I have no recollection of any stage where I was in-love with my physical self. It is hard, very hard, to learn to love something you have been mean to and loathed for over 45 years.
I am not the person I was, and never will be again.
This reality is becoming more acceptable to me, I don’t like how this new me came about, but I can either live with me or not. My choice.
Now I am learning what this new person needs to live a rich and fulfilling life. Frustratingly I think this will take a lot longer than I want it to, and I keep reminding myself that it is not a race, I have no one to get better, faster, with. I am doing this for me, s fast or slow as myself needs.
I am me; a woman still moving.
“The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely.” Carl Jung. , every