What’s in a name?
I’ve been “off” this week. I’ve been super sick with a “man” cold. I’ve been a huge baby about it all and I just haven’t felt well. It’s been hard to sleep, my body aches, and I’m constantly blowing my nose or coughing. I’ve been so focused on how my body feels physically I haven’t really been paying attention to much else with my body. And maybe with good reason. This week is a big trigger for me. It’s the hubs birthday, my youngest daughters birthday and Valentines Day. Each of these individually would be difficult for me, but with all of them happening within a 4 day period of time, I’ve been avoiding how I really feel. I’ve been going back to the old patterns of ignoring what is REALLY going on for me.
Yesterday I noticed that I was feeling “off”. I started to chalk it up to “I’m just sick” and realized there was more. It took a phone call with a dear friend to start to recognize what was really going on. I started processing it. I started to write about it. And then Amy uploaded a podcast so I thought I’d listen to it. About 2 minutes into the podcast I realized there was some Higher Power stuff going on because what she had recorded aligned so well with what I was thinking and feeling as well.
What resonated so well with me was Van Der Kolk’s quote. “As long as you keep secrets and suppress information, you are fundamentally at war with yourself.” This is what was happening with me. This is why I was feeling “off”. I was suppressing what I was thinking and feeling and I was at war with myself.
One of the old scripts that plays over and over in my life is “you’re not good enough”. This shows up in so many different ways. This week, it showed up in the way I talk to myself about birthdays. I’ve been putting a lot of weight in ways I think that others expect something from me. I start to tell myself stories about what other people expect of me surrounding birthdays and special days. I start to believe that unless I give 115% of everything I have to them it won’t be enough. I start to question what they mean when they tell me what they want. I question whether or not it’s a test and if there is really another expectation of me. And instead of questioning these stories, I start to shut down. I start to believe that I’m not good enough. And if I’m not good enough, or I won’t be good enough, it’s better not to try.
Maybe there is some expectations of me. Maybe I’m not just making these stories up. But unless these expectations are voiced, I am certain to fail. I am certain to not be “good enough”. I am not a mind reader and I never will be. If I expect this of myself, I am creating an expectation that can’t be met. I won’t be able to meet the unnamed needs of others. Occasionally, I might take a shot in the dark and hit the target. But more often than not, I will miss the mark.
The turning point for me came when I NAMED what was going on with me. When I could give voice to my thoughts and feelings, acknowledge what was going on, magic happened. It was as if there was a part of my soul that screamed out “YES! This is true! This is what you are feeling!” I began to feel a sense of peace wash over my body because my thoughts and feelings have been validated. Validated by myself!
I’ve tried for years to find this validation outside of myself. There were times I could recognize the discomfort inside and I tried to share the facts that surrounded these feelings, without acknowledging my truth. My feelings. I hoped that by sharing the facts, I would find validation. This person did _____, and I reacted by doing ________. I wanted validation that my reaction was acceptable. “Good enough”. I wasn’t ready to acknowledge what was really going on internally so I tried the next best thing. Sometimes I would recognize discomfort and try to escape that discomfort by pretending it didn’t exist. I numbed out, escaped in whatever way I could to ignore these feelings. Until I could name what was really going on and acknowledge my reality, this validation eluded me.
What I’m learning is that by staying silent, not letting my thoughts and feelings be heard, not acknowledging my own reality, I’m actually throwing my power away. I’m silencing the power my own voice has. The more I silence, the less I believe in myself. When I silence my voice, I’m expecting someone else to fight my battles for me. I’m expecting someone else to know what I am thinking and feeling and do something about it. I’m expecting someone else to make it all better. And if I’m not expecting someone else to “fix” it, I’m expecting it to go away. I’m like an ostritch with my head in the sand. I’m hoping that by not acknowledging what is happening, it will go away. In my experience, neither has worked well for me. My feelings don’t just go away by themselves. Silencing my voice, my feelings, my needs is like a cancer for me. It slowly destroys me.
I’m learning I can’t surrender something I can’t name. I can’t surrender the fears I have about expectations unless I have named that there are expectations I have. Naming becomes the first step of surrender for me. Surrender is a huge part of my recovery and without this cricial first step of naming what I am going through, surrender isn’t possible. I must acknowledge my reality.
So what’s in a name? Peace. Healing. Strength. Recovery. Awareness. Each of these things is possible when I name and acknowledge what is going on in my life.