Thank goodness, when that happens, I have a coach. A smart and compassionate one who doesn’t let me get away with much.
Her first question, when I confessed I’d woken up feeling like a failure, was: When did that start?
Well, of course, the part of me that preferred wallowing to working drew a blank.
I woke up that way, so hey, did it start in my sleep? (heading down dark paths of the psyche brings out my cheeky side)
What followed was a volley of questions (hers) and non-answers (mine). My coach is remarkably patient, or tenacious, depending on how “oh,-I’m-not-feeling-resistant” resistant I’m being.
I still don’t remember the exact moment I gave myself permission to…let the light in, but a conversation with my daughter earlier in the day surfaced, and without warning all the pieces fell in place.
No one was more surprised than I was.
For hours I’d been up to my crown chakra in inner smog, dodging confusion, and refusing to concede the uglies trying to elbow their way past that thin layer of niceness I was spreading over the top of myself.
I was convinced that wasting time on this irrelevant speed bump during my coaching time, when real work had to be done, was an Alice In Wonderland set of priorities!
Only, underneath that rationale I was lost. And some part of me was convinced that spending time on being lost would further cement the sense of being a failure. And since being a failure was what I wanted to avoid at all costs, I opted for downsizing it to a speed bump.
I could have used other strategies, like exaggerating something else altogether (that, of course, is how wars are started – internal or external: don’t look over there, look over here!).
I could have pulled a donkey on my coach: refused to budge.
I could have whined and pretended it was all too much for me (Here, sweetie, have some milk and cookies).
Instead, I engaged. With ragged edges. Dragging my feet for sure. But I engaged.
And that willingness to engage is what finally let the light in, and the tears out.
Turns out, what was in the way, this time, was the past… sort of…
One of the odd parts of this story is that the pieces did not appear within a linear time frame.
First, I woke up feeling as if I was a failure. Second, my daughter called. But it wasn’t until my coaching conversation, when I mentioned (as a sidebar) the call from my daughter (which was all about her and not about how I’d been feeling in a brief morning flicker, now buried under the routine of daily life) that unraveled the failure mystery (why, where, who’d dunit).
And yet, when the aha hit, it hit because my daughter had randomly called. It was as if the two events conspired with each other in their own time-out zone.
On top of that, the aha itself had an unlikely time twist because, even though the aha catapulted me into the past, I quickly realized that it wasn’t about the past at all.
And here is where I learned the most about what throws dust in my eyes… aka: what gets in the way.
Oddly, I discovered that the past is not about the past
If I could draw a cartoon, here’s what it would look like:
Me, on my back, on the floor, both feet pushing as hard as they can against a door that is cracked open. Something on the other side is pushing to get the door open.
Beads of sweat roll off my forehead. My face in a grimace. I’m supporting my upper body with my forearms on the floor, facing the door.
And snaking around the edge of the barely open door is a dark blob.
Across the door in capital letters is: THE PAST
Across my back, in capital letters is: THE PRESENT
When the aha flash came to me, as I was squirming around my coach’s questions, it started with a flashback to dear old Dad. Old story, I thought, too old and anyway, I’ve done the work around that!
Then up rose the call with my daughter, an hour or so before, and wham. It slammed into me. The point, in the past, where I’d decided I had been a failure. A B-I-G FAILure. A H-U-G-E FAILure. A condemn me forever FAILure.
And, I’d done tons of inner work around this old story too.
So what was up? The flashback was sitting on my heart like a Hefalump, very much present and in my flesh.
Ahhh… “very much present…” and then I understood. It wasn’t about the past at all, but about how I was holding myself (or not) right here, right now, in the present. I had healed the younger me, from way back when, and utterly neglected the now me.
Why? Because the now me is all grown up and busy doing grown up things – being all mature and responsible and on top of it!
And this level of neglect to the very present parts of myself that hurt, alongside the equally valid “I’m doing great!” parts of myself, was unconsciously gumming up the works.
I mean, literally, “the work”–what I needed to do every day to bring in income. To interact with my family. To engage with the world.
My take aways?
1. When I engage in any endeavor, however big or small, I bring my whole self.
2. And this whole self is made up of different parts that miraculously work together – so together that when one part needs more than my conscious awareness is giving, all the other parts go on strike too, each in their own way.
3. My job is to pay attention. Not pour the “I’m fine” syrup over, in this case, the uncomfortable feeling of being a failure that I woke up with.
4. Feelings, which are being neglected, are most likely to sneak in right before sleep, right upon waking, in moments of day dreaming or meditation. Give them space to be.
5. I know, with absolute certainty, that what I’m avoiding, feeling confused about, fuzzy and unclear is a simmering caldron of delicious awareness waiting to increase my life energy.
Can you relate?