The real me- a shared human experience.
I have had a few conversations in therapy this week where it has become very clear to me that the downside to my own spiritual growth and ability to articulate my own wisdom leads to other people thinking I have my shit together. All of the time.
I am a very expressive person and I have been delivering therapy by telephone (due to technological issues) for many weeks now as we settle in to this new way of being, but this week I came back on camera and MY GOD are they different therapy sessions.
The volume of things we pick up on from non verbal cues is shockingly vast and I think my patients gained some of their own learning this week, simply by looking at my scrunched up forehead when we started thinking about whether some of their experiences were unique to them and they should feel deeply ashamed and guilty about that, or whether they were simply part of the shared human experience.
I very quickly normalised and shattered any misconceptions they might have had that I am somehow a 2.0 version of a human, somehow different, or any better than them. Yes, I put my 'professional work hat' on when I deliver therapy, I am certainly a beaming, positive, attentive and eloquent version of myself. But to think that this would even be possible to maintain 24/7 couldn't be further from the truth. It is still me, it's definitely the best version of me,the same with the yoga (who is this yoga goddess that transcends onto the yoga mat, as she certainly isn't here right now as I sit here writing this, desperately needing a shower and in my pjs), but who I am is made up of many different wild, messy and beautiful parts, and the same goes for all of you.
But it made me think, and when I think, I overthink, so when I overthink I write.
So here goes.
I am completely and utterly perfectly imperfect and a complete contradiction in many ways, and it's perfectly acceptable and okay to have different thoughts about different things that if unpicked would be philosophically and ethically flawed.
I have a strong sense of self and feel safe and at home in my wonderful body, and with who I am, but, like anyone, I still have moment of deep insecurity still that pop up within the context of certain signals or triggers in the wider context of my life. (This is not related to food or my body image, that I have under control, I'll save the real juicy parts for my book one day, hey...).
The fact that I can't move past some of my own "stuff" often brings me a huge sense of shame, but the truth is, we can't help the fact that we experience a trigger. Adding shame into the mix over things we can't help is like beating yourself up every time there are clouds in the sky, what purpose does kicking yourself when you are already down serve? The nature of a trigger is something that occurs unconsciously due to a complex range of different factors linked to past trauma or difficult experiences and the brain literally can't tell the difference between 'then and now' which is why we can feel so under threat when we have been triggered.
All we can ever do is learn to notice our triggers, and, with practice, talking to others (and maybe even therapy) one day, respond differently. I say this in deep knowing that I still make choices to sit in deep depression or fester in my own anger, the CBT skills imprinted within my rational mind literally sighing at me as they observe me choosing to sit in a grump rather than make a choice I know will ultimately help me. This is normal, this is human. Perhaps one day, we will all be able to let the clouds move through us without reacting, but until then. Be kind to yourself. Your experience is your experience. Love and forgive yourself within all of it.
My closest friends and family have seen the darkest aspects of my shadow side, and sometimes I wish I could play these memories out to my patients so they could see that this is simply just part of the human experience. I have screamed, shouted, said (and continue to think) mean things from time to time. I don't do it all of the time, and I'm doing it less, but this is also a part of me, still. This is normal, this is human.
We ALL have a shadow side. Be wary of anyone who denies this. Perhaps my shadow side has even been darker and more pronounced than some of yours, perhaps this is why I work so hard to help others feel less afraid of theirs and help them make steps to live more fully in the lightness.
I would never post something that I didn't believe and my posts, I'm aware, are inspirational and poignant because they come from my heart. They are me, the real me, but it is important to remember that the real me is also my rage, sadness and all of the other complex of aspects of myself.
And of you. There is nothing to be ashamed of. Shame lives and thrives because we let it fester without talking about it. The more we can talk about the things that make us feel guilty or ashamed the more we can free ourselves from being trapped within them.
We are who we are because of the rainbow of emotions that we feel. Your behaviours don't define you, neither do your thoughts, neither do your emotions. But none of it is anything to be afraid of. Each of them are little treasures that we can learn and grow from and we can choose to feel shame over the more difficult parts, or we can choose to accept that we are human, and just try to work a little bit on the ones that hurt us or other people in the process.
Those of you who know me well know how obsessed I am with recovery. (You can't tell a recovered person that true recovery isn't possible.) But we need to be realistic. Recovery and living a happy, meaningful and fulfilled life doesn't manifest you into a version of you that is skipping through candy floss clouds smiling, all of the time. Recovery is learning to accept that there will be up and down days, easier and more difficult moments, and part of the journey is learning to work through and accept your experiences without harming or punishing yourself any further in the process.
You & me, in all of our complexity, are as close to perfect as we are ever going to get because perfection only exists in context of the paradox, that we are perfect, because of our imperfections and humanness.
We always have been and we always will be, enough, imperfectly perfect, just as we are.
Be kind to yourself.