Perfectly Imperfect Workshop

I have been looking for a place to get together with people who want to support each other in personal development. I imagine it would be a place to learn and practice all the things I wish I had learned in school, or as a youth. I have been learning so much over the last year (now that I’m 50, it feels like I had wasted so much time.)

I want to find a community of people to share their experience and challenges with things like – self-compassion, boundaries, attachment, meaningful connection, personal responsibility, etc.

I have found a few small groups that touch on small, focused aspects like this, but nothing that really supports developing a fulfilling life.

I think I am going to have to create the space myself. I might call it the Perfectly Imperfect Workshop. I would hope it would be a magnet for people to gather and be as authentic as they could stand to be, then grow their authentic selves.

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Reach Out

The last couple posts have been a struggling attempt to reach out for support.

I have recently lost a primary support, and I don’t have adequate backup.

The pain is intense, and I am not handling it well. I realize this approach is not likely to have a beneficial outcome, but this is where I go when my next best supports tell me that I should just be angry, while that is not what I am feeling.

Vulnerability

Vulnerability can be a fantastic path to healing and development, unless there is nobody able and willing to sit with you and say “I know that what you are going through is tough and miserable, but I am here with you, just to listen and be a support.” Without that, it’s like having a broken leg, torn through the skin, exposed to every bump and infection.

I was hoping this blog would help me connect with one, if not many, who are able and willing to sit with me and heal. Instead, it feels like an audience watching a freak show, waiting to see what absurdity will come out next.

Connection

I started this blog to connect with others, hopefully through circumstances that had some similarities to those of other people, but also hoping that where my circumstances were unfamiliar, a dialogue would open up.

I have made myself vulnerable here, and yet have not been able to inspire connection. This feels more alone than my hiding place.

Do the things I share make you feel uncomfortable? Is it more work to share what you feel about what is written than it is worth?

Anyway, life goes on.

Perspective

I recently came across a psychological model that makes a lot of sense to me. It is called The Adult Chair, by Michelle Chalfant. The podcast can be found at MichelleChalfant.com (or TheAdultChair.com will redirect to that site.) It has shown me straight forward solutions to things I hadn’t been able to understand, like why I continued to feel like a child in an adult body, and what drives the voice deep within me to flee from what would seem like reasonable risk.

As I explored my automatic reactions to circumstances, I noticed that a great many cautions were attached to a desire to have my natural father back in my life. The last time I saw him was when I was 4 years old. I was standing in the driveway with him, and I remember clearly that he told me “Always do the right thing, and always tell the truth.” He also said something to the effect that I should obey Scott (who became my adoptive Dad), as I would him. I’m not sure what he said that caused me to believe that if we did well enough, we would be together again. I established that as my sole mission in life – to do well enough at always doing the right thing, and always telling the truth, under Scott’s authority, to get my father back.

With those parameters firmly in my 4 year mind, instructions became law and the rules became more and more complex to try to accomplish. By the time I realized I couldn’t figure out how to do well enough, I had erroneously received the message that it wasn’t okay to disturb others with my concerns, that I had to take responsibility for myself.

I pressed on, doing my best, day by day, year by year, always seeing that I was not capable of fulfilling my responsibility. I lost track of why I was trying so hard, and feeling so bad about failing. As I grew more and more ashamed of who I was, and my inadequacy, I had to create a bigger barrier between my shortcomings and the image of who I thought I needed to be. The more I concealed behind the wall, the more I became afraid of letting anyone know me.

After learning self-compassion freed me from despising my ability to fit the false image, I learned to love my faults, along with the noble character I had worked toward.

Recently, a counselor asked me to share some of the challenges of my childhood. After I gathered them together, recognizing I hadn’t felt acceptable to ask for help, I thought “That was one tough kid!”

The next day, doing some inner child work, I told “little Eric” that I wanted him to have a nickname that could expresses how courageous and strong he is. I heard “Leo”. I thought that was perfect. Leo had been the name of our giant stuffed lion that I had since I was 5. He was a best friend to me. I told him everything. He helped me through countless challenges. He gave the best advice. He was wise and courageous.

Then I recognized that the problem with Leo was that he had the same rules, restraints and knowledge that I had. He could only help me to do the best I could with what I had. He couldn’t give me another perspective. He was a reflection of me. What I recognized next encouraged the snot out of me – everything I had ever admired in Leo came from me. How could I ever deny myself acceptance again?

Most importantly to me, I recognized that my foundational belief, that I needed to become good enough to be worthy of my father’s love, was false. I was released from chains I had put on myself, thinking they would give me what I wanted in life.

Today I am a beautiful mess, fully worthy of love and every good thing. I am celebrating more of my shortcomings each day. I am tearing down the walls and allowing people to see me, just as I am. It is very un-appealing to many, and that’s okay. The most valuable people in my life have always cherished what I tried so hard to hide. Now I get to embrace their love instead of shielding from the pain of disappointment. I even get to be open to other perspectives, that didn’t fit with my distorted mission.

I was thinking about a closing statement, but I think I’ll just leave it open…

Calling All Less Thans

There are some fortunate people who have already learned that all people are of equal value, including themselves. They may have had healthy, mature people to teach them, or they may have gone through great struggle to come to that understanding.

There are also those who believe they are better than some or all others. I don’t know much about them. They seem to be better off without me.

There are, what seems to be a vast number of people who believe, as I had, that they are less than at least many others. Sure there were many times in my life when I thought I must somehow be equal with everyone else, but there was something deeper that rejected the idea.

The image of what I thought I needed to be, to be acceptable, was unattainable. I hated who I was.

It took a change of perspective to find love and acceptance for myself.

If you have struggled with feeling less than, please talk with me. I would be honored to share with you how you can live with as much value as the most amazing person you know.

You are welcome to email me at – tootalltale@yahoo.com

I know you are worth it!

Worthy

There has been a lull in my writing. I had been practicing writing about my observations. However, I went through a season where I could not find clarity. A number of triggers had brought me back to the distress of my youth, that this life is a torturous existence, where we should consider ourselves fortunate if we are not currently being tormented. 

Fortunately, along the path, it was pointed out to me that things weren’t so much happening to me as much as they were simply happening – nothing personal. The world we live in is decaying and corrupt, overflowing with hazards. There will be loss and pain. The only way to avoid that would be to value nothing or anyone. That would be a greater loss than losing everything. 

I returned to core beliefs – nothing in life compares in value to relationships and compassion. Unfortunately, a lifetime of distorted views of life and myself left me extremely inexperienced at developing and maintaining relationships. When others offered friendship, I regularly hid in fear of them discovering I was unacceptable, under the fragile veil of the image I thought I needed to present. 

When a course in self-compassion revealed to me that I am enough, with all of my shortcomings, I began to face my fears. I have made much progress. Recognizing that I still let opportunities for connection pass, due to fear of the unknown, I set intentions for the new year – releasing reactivity to nurture awareness, and releasing unworthiness to nurture requests. A few days later, I began asking “What is the most loving thing I can do for myself at this time?” It is working out to be the fulfillment of all of the intentions I set. Awareness and honoring my needs, at a simple requests, has has a profound effect on my sense of worthiness. 

The practice is quickly branching out to those around me. If I ask you what the most loving thing I can do for you at this time is, know that it is because I believe you are worthy of my time and resources. 

I am deeply grateful to many who have treated me as worthy, even when I could not see it.

As a friend, what loving thing can I do for you at this time?