I didn’t understand what suffering meant when I was young. All I knew was that when I didn’t fit in or got the message of rejection, there was deep pain, a sense of being bruised from the inside and it just kept attracting more of the same. From those painful encounters, I would subconsciously decide to continue that exact narrative towards myself into the future.
I truly believed that there was something wrong with me. I via the treatment of my peers condemned myself to be faulty in some way. A flawed excuse for a human being who did not adhere to the path of the collective norm. I did not belong.
I wasn’t the popular girl that was a magnet for guys, I wasn’t the brainy nerd who was wise enough to escape to the library at lunchtime, I wasn’t the sporty girl, the head prefect and I wasn’t the feisty thick-skinned kid who couldn’t care less if I had friends or not. I wasn’t even the bad girl. No, I was none of those.
I was the one that always wanted to know why, but primarily I was the pleaser, the kid that needed to be liked, be accepted and suffered terribly for it.
I remember a time in my early years when I literally tried to buy friends by bringing chocolate to a new school I was trying to adjust to. My heart goes out to that lovely, odd and fun little girl who didn’t think she was enough.
As I aged that belief continued and grew cement shoes. I didn’t fit the normal relationship model of success, I didn’t fit the normal buy a house, have children, have a super fund type of person.
I suffered because I couldn’t become normal and it hurt that I didn’t feel like a member of society. It’s great if you are feisty and eccentric from the get-go, and naturally rebel, but I didn’t have that, I was a good girl looking for approval and good girls are meant to fit the mould.
Do you have kids?
How do you tell someone in a casual conversation that your child died in the womb? And no you can’t carry children?
Are you married?
How do you tell a person that you don’t need to be married but yes you do love men, but just don’t want to be in ownership with one?
And yes, those questions however kindly intended, added a glacier to the suffering as both of the answers brought up wounds for me. Wounds that said, I don’t fit, I failed.
I would never fit the expected ‘normal’ model.
This belief that somehow without a sense of belonging, without having a child, without being married, without having a house to call my own with another, without being included in the land of the norm, I was not worth it.
The suffering wove itself into my personality and the lack of self-esteem equalled what I believed I was worth.
Depending on our culture, upbringing, environment, and generational patterning, we all carry a core wound that can become our own self-created suffering. The Buddhists say that’s the nature of humanity, to suffer but at the same time, we are given the opportunity to relieve our suffering by developing insight and becoming more conscious. And that is indeed what I have spent time doing, gaining insight and growing in conscious acceptance.
In that acceptance, especially of my shadowed patterns of belief, I have grown towards a comfortable softness, a comfortable kindness within. That’s not to say that I don’t have flare-ups of low self-esteem, but the major difference is, that I have a stronger part of me that doesn’t let that belief rule my inner psyche.
Suffering can be transformed into a motivator.
As I aged I could see that this underlying belief was eroding my spirit, my passion, and my sense of meaning. Everything else that was happening in my life was made small due to this belief taking up so much damn inner space.
I needed to stop avoiding my shadow beliefs and look this suffering straight in the eye so I could stop being its victim and bowing down to the weight of it. I needed to stand up and say to myself, thank you, thank you for coming, for teaching me, for showing me, but I am done with this self-inflicted suffering and I chose a different way to learn.
I found via insight meditation that I could gain enough distance to watch how my thoughts got obsessive over certain issues and would not let go which is what lead me to greater inner suffering, and gems and pearls of the art of Voice Dialogue offered me some understanding of how different parts of my subconscious played roles that came along at different times in my early years to help initially and ended up getting blocking the way.
The judge, the critic, the poor me, the protector, had a way of ganging up together and blocking me from getting to the core of the issue.
At the core of the wounding, sat my inner child who was getting bombarded by all of this negativity. The judge would condemn others but also condemn her, the critic would pick on her and tell her she wasn’t good enough and she needed to improve, and the poor me would make her feel bad that she wasn’t loved enough nor probably ever would be, and the protector would get really pissed off and resentful on her behalf. It was really hard to find a conscious link to her with all of them blocking my way.
I remember hearing someone say ‘You are so very hard on yourself and like many, I seemed to be at ease at being a lot nicer to others than I was to myself.
Didn’t I think I deserved to be nice to myself? Heading back to that memory at school in those early days and all the bullying that took place in my teens, clearly not. I
As a child born in the 60’s I had been brought up to not be selfish and to think of others. As the pleaser, the good girl, I think I took that credo way to far and put myself either primarily in the wrong or last on the list if at all.
The only way I could stop this pattern was to mend the way I thought and felt about myself. It didn’t matter what others thought or felt about me, it really came down to how I treated myself. I have learned the benefits of becoming a wise parent towards myself. Someone else may have initially initiated the wounding but I was now the owner of the feeling so it was up to me to stop adding to it.
Nowadays the upsetting thoughts are acknowledged and then unpacked with softness, cleared with tools and most importantly my inner child has my attention. I connect deeply with her and I am full of validation and kindness. It’s not like I am indulging her in any way. I am simply being there, holding space with healthy boundaries and realigning her in the truth and knowing that she is complete and accepted in all her feelings and most of all the truth that nothing is wrong with her.
Within that, I am hugely restored and have a deep sense of self-compassion and self-confidence.
That wound of low self-esteem has become a gift, that wound has taken me on paths toward my passion, that wound has taught me about healthy boundaries, that wound has brought me to knowing who I am and liking all of who I am and my place in this world. I am not normal and more so than ever, I am incredibly comfortable with that knowledge.
The shaman’s path of healing is to ingest the issue, navigate its origins, negotiate with it and then release it. I like to think that’s how I approach my inner suffering now.
Below is a little guide that may be helpful:
Ingest the wound: Swallow it, Feel it, where in your body does it affect you most? How does it sit with you, this wound, this suffering? Does it belong to you?
Navigate: What is at the base of this wound? When did this wound start? What is the core belief at the bottom of this wounding? What is the original cause? How did it manifest in you? By what means?
Negotiate: What does it look like? Does it have a vibe of some kind? Let it know you are now aware and ask what you need to do for it to back off or take a back seat. Thank it for its teaching, however hard the experience.
Release: Let it know you have got this now, you are the primary carer for yourself and you don’t need to learn via this wound anymore. With some ritual and visualisation, blow it back to the source.
Nourish your inner self with kindness towards your inner child. Tap your upper heart like a slow drum beat and let her know you are there for her.
When you can allow yourself to be aware, soft, receptive and connected so much inner suffering falls away naturally.
Make your suffering a guidepost to deeper healing towards a receptive softness.
(c) O. Nightsky 2022