"Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are.”
Do you ever feel as if you don't belong, or feel so different from others or from your family? I think that this is a feeling that many of us share. Recently I have worked with many people who feel that way. When that is our early experience in life, that feeling can be a difficult one to shake. Yes, we are all unique and have different backgrounds, feelings, thoughts, life experiences and also gifts in this world. That is also true. In addition, in a very large perspective, we are all alike in that we all have thoughts, feelings, gifts, our bodies and brains and construction works similarly, and we all live together on this earth. When we have young experiences in life with our caretakers where bonding was interrupted, or when we have an early loss in our families, or when our parents were so wounded and flawed, we often grow up feeling so different from them and so apart and like we don't belong. Then as we grow up we attract people into our lives and have relationships with people and children where we don't feel we connect well, or where we aren't able to communicate well our thoughts and feelings, or where we feel very different from them. The cycle continues.
Recently I had the privilege of working with people who feel that way. One woman was having great difficulty in her relationship with her husband where she wasn’t feeling heard and seen, and also difficulty in her relationship with her child where she even experienced the feeling where it would be easier if he/she weren’t there. When she was young, her mother went back to school to get a degree. Her mother was a teenage bride and was still figuring herself out and needed help in mothering her two children. She had my client and her brother spend large periods of time with their grandparents, her parents as she finished school. Even though my client and her mom do well now and love and enjoy each other, when she was little, she missed her mother dearly even though she was well taken care of by her grandmother. She remembers as a 12-year-old speaking with her grandmother about feeling like she must be adopted as she felt so different from her parents.
This feeling of difference continues today. She feels different from her husband who she also feels doesn’t hear her or see her, and also feels great guilt as a parent and a failure. I can't help wondering how much those feelings of failure and guilt also come from how her mother might have felt and also how she herself, as a young child, must have felt. Why else would her mother not want to be with her if she wasn’t so bad and a failure? This feeling of fault, guilt and failure is a frequent feeling that children feel when something happens to their parents or if someone isn't available. We all feel if we were good enough they would be there, or they wouldn’t leave….at that age, it is all about us as it has to be in order for us to survive. So now her child struggles with addictions and with subsequent failure in school, and she feels guilty as a bad mom and also guilty for her feelings of wishing her child wasn’t here.
Often behind the feeling of guilt hides a deeper feeling. The guilt disguises feelings of great sadness or even great anger, and even both. Not only did she have these feelings regarding her parents, she also had and has them regarding her child. Feeling different also helps her cope with her feeling so hurt by her mother; a feeling she doesn’t want to feel, and one she doesn't consciously feel now. As a child herself, if she was different from her mother, then it couldn't be her fault. Healing now comes from recognizing and owning her feelings and bridging the separation from her mom that she felt growing up. She does that by understanding how it was for her then, realizing it wasn't her fault and allowing herself to have all her feelings and then can navigate back and forth through time from young to present so she can also be present for her husband and her child.
This navigating through time begins with awareness and being able to feel our feelings;/past and present. As we begin to time travel in this way we also can begin our journey towards wholeness, health, and vitality.
Shift Your Story/Shift Your Life
Let's take a journey together. Find a comfortable seat and ground yourself with your feet on the ground. Do your best to make sure you will be uninterrupted. Begin by breathing; one deep breath at a time. You are breathing in life and breathing out old stuff you no longer need. Breathe slowly 2 or 3 more times breathing in life and breathing out old stuff. Close your eyes and find yourself on a mountain path, surrounded by pine trees on both sides of you. The path is slightly rocky and not very steep. You stop and breathe in the smell of fresh pine and look up past the treetops to see the sun's rays peeking in at you. You follow this path until you come to a clearing over a large rock where you can sit down comfortably inhaling the pure, clean air. As you sit on your rock, you ask for help in seeing any old places inside where you might feel different, or that in some way you don't belong. This might not fit now in the present, but if you have assistance and look backward for a few minutes, let some scenes unfold for you where you can see and feel any of these old feelings. Watch the scene unfold before you as you feel held by the rock you are sitting on and the sun shining and the assistance you are receiving. As you watch this moment on the past you have the perspective with you of the present. Just as an angel in A Christmas Carol shows Scrooge his Christmas past and present and future, imagine your angel showing you how this old event impacts you in the present; maybe in ways, you have not seen before. Take a moment and thank those assisting you and welcome in this new perspective. Maybe a word or a feeling or a color or a smell stays with you from this new insight. Open your eyes and stand and stretch and enjoy again the sights and smells around you. Start back on the mountain path, retracing your steps until you reach the beginning of the path. Begin to feel yourself sitting in your chair and take two or three deep breaths. Slowly open your eyes, and if you are so moved, take a few minutes and write down what came to you during this visualization.