I was outside. It was night. Someone was behind me: his hands on the small of my back propelling me dangerously forward with enormous force. I was scared. I tried to decompress the uncomfortable arch in my back but the force was too great. I tried to steer myself towards a large overweigh man, thinking if I ran into him he would stop me and keep me from moving out into the street. I felt vaguely embarrassed, for my pelvis was awkwardly pushed forward, leading, the rest of my body following.
When I woke up. I thought about that feeling of being exposed. It was a feeling of shame for me. I realized that my pelvis represented my instincts – the lower chakras of desire, security and the feeling of shame. My instincts had been driving me. My upper chakras of love and intuition had not been leading this old drama that I was now unraveling in my life.
I am a driven person, a life long striver. As long as I can remember, I’ve been trying to get from where I am to somewhere else. I remember sitting as a child at the kitchen table staring out at the pond and trees, caught in an existential loneliness. I felt so stuck in my house and life. I wanted to be somewhere else, but I didn’t know where. I remember reading book after book, escaping into other stories, other lives. I felt too trapped, too unloved, and had too much shame about myself to wish to be ‘with’ myself. I didn’t realize it was shame at the time. It wasn’t until much later that I knew what shame was, or that I had it.
We all have it. We live in a shame-infested culture. Shame is the opposite of the feeling of connection and love. And we need connection and love to heal shame.
I have been reading Daring Greatly by Brene Brown this week. You may be familiar with her from her Ted Talks on Shame and Vulnerability. It is a book full of wisdom and humanity. Brene (and one of my yoga teachers who also reading her book and mentioned it first) got me thinking about the word ‘enough.’ Brene defines the opposite of scarcity not as abundance but as enough. Chachunk. Something big shifted inside and fell into place for me. I’ve always struggled with the idea of unlimited abundance. It just didn’t feel right. Everything has its seasons: its time and place. Shouldn’t also abundance? Is having your every wish come true part of grappling with life and being human and imperfect? What of the process of aging? What of the spiritual qualities of wisdom and patience that come from having wrestled with limitations?
For me, dealing with limitation is part of my life. I have had health issues the last three years that have caused me to reorganize much of my relationship with my world and myself. Although I love to do strenuous exercise, if I get to do an easy yoga, instead of no yoga I can find gratitude for the enough-ness of this. Accepting limitation and coming to terms with ‘enough’ has allowed me to bring greater presence and balance into my life.
The idea of abundance has come into our culture in both a way that is positive (after all, who doesn’t want abundance) but also in a way that is negative. It becomes part of a striving or an escaping. It becomes part of the madness of wanting more and more. In the process of striving, what happens to ‘being?’ What happens to ‘enough?’ What happens to the love and connection that often gets pushed aside?
I started early upon a path of striving. Who could I be that would show who I was? How could I prove myself? How could I find a sense of worthiness that would allow me to feel that I was special? ‘Being’ wasn’t part of my vocabulary. I don’t know if everyone is like this. I am sure there are people who have always been embedded in their lives in a way that feels organic, whole, who aren’t looking to get anywhere or be anything: people who wake up happy to go about their day with no sense of urgency to get something done because they already know they are okay. For me, approaching a semblance of balance has taken years of exploration and the pulling off my many shells. I’m still unpeeling layers.
Because I’m in the process of automating WeConcile, I am concerned about the next step – getting it out into the world. So as I’ve been exploring social media and ways of marketing a strange thing began to happen. I began to get anxious. I felt driven. I started feeling overwhelmed and a little bit panicked. I felt myself pulled to the idea that I had to use social media. I had to get seen. As I focused in that arena, I could feel myself ‘trying.’ I subscribed to a promotion called ‘How to get 10,000 likes on your face book page.’ I could feel the internal noise ramping up as I listened to the first audio of this man go on and on. I felt as if I was being held hostage. I felt myself getting tense. Is this what I want to focus on? Do I have to do this? I stopped. I don’t have to do this. I won’t. If I fritter my time away trying to be seen, trying to get somewhere, what will I be doing with my life? What will become of the real work I am doing and want to continue to do? What if I just live my life, and maybe I get seen and maybe I don’t. What if I just say ‘enough,’ this is not what I want to focus on? I will do the work that I love and let whatever happens happen. It was a radical idea. Loosening my grip on what will be. Deciding to live my life instead of having to make something happen. Letting go of my personal will to choose a path with more flow, more life and ultimately more heart. It isn’t all up to me anyway. And I don’t want to be that person.
Are we willing to ‘be’ with the others on our planet, or are we caught in the disease of striving so that we can be more than them? As long as I am operating out of shame, nothing will ever be enough. As long as we see ourselves as better than others, we have not faced our shame. As long as we have not faced out shame, we will struggle with vulnerability and connection.
My father was always very driven. His work came first. His need to explore his own creativity and express himself crowded out so much else and left him with little interest to really know the internal lives of his children. I remember when he was dying. Lying in his bed upstairs, he became more radiant with each passing day. Sometime towards the end, he told loved us, and that we were more important than his work. He acknowledged that everything is about love. I still tear up when I remember this, that he actually said it, and that it was only days before he died.
There is a balance between becoming and being. I don’t think I ever understood it before. My need to become somebody was too great. Under this force was the pain and shame of growing up not being truly seen. I’ve known for years that I do too much striving and not enough being. Although striving is part of it is my nature, it was the shame piece I wasn’t seeing. I didn’t know how the judgment that permeated the culture of my family – the criticism of others and the world, the lack of real appreciation, connection or gratitude, had impacted me in this area of ‘enough.’ It was shameful to not have my feelings recognized or validated consistently. It was shameful to be humiliated or not considered. It was shameful to be so shy. It was shameful to need and to care.
I am no longer that person. I have connections and relationships in my life that are fulfilling and beautiful. I do work that I love. My life is full. My life is enough. I am enough. Yet even as I was writing this for a moment I wondered, do I have enough to share? Have I lived enough? Am I enough?
My real question though is not am I enough, but where am I out of balance? What parts of my life still get pushed to the side? Where does scarcity rule and cause me to grasp instead of breathing in a full breath and claiming what is right here? Where am I rushing compulsively instead of being and connecting?
I’m still evolving. We all are. Sometimes I forget that. I forget that the universe is ever expanding – as are we. That is the beautiful thing. What is now, will not always be so. As I have changed and am changing so are others. The relentless force of shame is relaxing its grip. Perhaps someday we will all find our enough-ness, our connection, and fully embrace our humanity.