Monday, May 5, 2014

Lean in and Own It

    I have found such deep healing in the love and acceptance of knowing my God loves me - flaws and failures, quirks and smirks, whether I’m happy or sad, grouchy or glad.  There is a comfort and peace these recent months; more than I have ever known.  Yet, the last couple of weeks I have felt the return of some of the less pleasant feelings. This has been troubling and challenging because I am wrestling with a returned intensity of loneliness. I acknowledge that in struggling with these feelings, I am again finding myself wanting to minimize them and dismiss them as unjustified and unwarranted. Fortunately, these many months of therapy have brought gifts of awareness and there is a more compassionate me to be less critical of myself when these feelings surface.
    Having said that, I can also identify that I am susceptible to addictive behaviors since the unrest and discomfort prompt those feelings of pain to the level of wanting to escape and medicate. I know well enough that acting out in my compulsive behaviors or numbing away my feelings will only delay what I need to face. My commitment level to my healing is much greater than that; no – the Sara of recent years is “lean in and own it”. That’s just how I bend these days; I do not want to return to the numb Sara.
    So let’s lean in and find out what I need to own. What is it about this loneliness that is so difficult? I begin with asking myself when is the pain the worst? The bewitching hour is when I go to bed; I simply want to share my life with someone, and I don’t like sleeping alone.  The intellect of that statement is simple enough; I believe by design we are programmed to want to connect. I can see that loneliness is part of accepting my present circumstances. What has been particularly difficult is the intensity of these feelings, though.  They can be rather unpleasant.
    I am all too familiar with gripping pain. I remember feeling a deep, into-my-core, kind of pain when I was married. This was perhaps the worst of the worst since I was physically next to someone whom I loved, to whom I had made vows of lasting love and commitment, and who I wanted desperately to love me. Yet, there I was – devastated in the bitter loneliness of rejection. That kind of loneliness is truly debilitating. My medicating and escaping were understandable, albeit so very unhealthy.
    The loneliness that I am feeling of late is not the same thankfully. I am not rejected and I am aware that I am by myself, yet I am not alone.  Rather, this loneliness has some residue of an early time from my childhood. What I recall from my days as a young girl growing up in my family of origin is that I knew I was loved; that I was aware that I had a very good life because my parents provided for me and took care of my (physical) needs. I had such compassion for those I perceived as less fortunate than I, especially those existing on such minimal provision. I wanted to be grateful for what I had been given. I suppose I learned at an early age to minimize my needs because I didn't feel that I was particularly worthy of having it “better” than someone else.   
     There is a certain type of loneliness in that kind of thinking because I couldn't share those feelings deep inside me. To do so would expose something very shameful in me – that having such emotional needs was to be greedy, needy, demanding, and ungrateful.  I think what I wanted was the kind of attention of being seen and appreciated for in my complexity as a person, not merely for the compliant child who did for others.  There was a sense that because I had been given more than most children, to voice any additional need was to be ungrateful. I hadn't done anything particularly worthy of what I had been given so asking for more than what I was given would have been audacious, and that was very unacceptable. In fact to express it would have been shameful.

     Back to today’s loneliness: what does all this have to do with my recent feelings (I’m leaning in; I’m willing to own it, but it doesn't always make sense to me.)  I suppose I’m back to the issue of asking for more. Do I get to voice my needs, because I’m feeling very undeserving and unentitled. Yet, if asked…I want more.  I see that more is available and I want the fullness that I see is available. Wanting that exposes some guilt and shame (again?! They seem to reappear over and over, don’t they?) because I think it says that I am ungrateful.  I know that I have come far in my healing; that I have awareness and acceptance.  I have worked through so many issues, I have overcome a lot of my harmful and unhealthy behaviors. There is this sense that my gratitude for this should suffice.  I am truly grateful. These feelings of wanting more expose how young Sara related to her world. As an adult I get to define my needs and set about getting them met.  There is no guilt or shame in that, and to my surprise, by my releasing those, I also feel less lonely.   In fact, I feel empowered by my adult awareness, and realize that only my opinion on what is enough matters. There is nothing lonely in that, but I alone get to make that call!


  1. Thanks for the posting, Sara. Your writing is healing for me! It's helping me understand me better. I can look back and realize that my parents' need for me to be that "compliant child who did for others" was limiting and unhealthy for me. When I was a child I didn't feel supported or allowed to express my own needs and wants. I chose to survive that painful reality by ignoring my feelings about it and by putting myself into a box where I could keep myself small so I could better ignore and deny that I had any needs and wants. Doing that became my pattern in life.

    I understand that I did what I did then and now I can choose to free myself from that box and be more compassionate and kind with myself when I find myself repeating past patterns I now choose to reject. I know today that I'm a good person who enjoys doing good things, but I don't need to see myself as most worthy or loveable when I'm "a compliant adult doing good for others".

    I'm picturing myself as an adult in a very tight box where I've made myself as small as I could, but now I'm exploding myself out of it. The freedom and view is extraordinary!!!

    1. Thank you for sharing your insight about your childhood and how that is helping to bring healing. What joy to me to know that by sharing my life with its bits of pain and craziness could help another. I gladly do so, as I find connecting with others even remotely in this new means of a blog is where I find such deep meaning and purpose. Please continue to comment!