“Imagine this. Picture an adult who is living their life, just going about their day… when all of a sudden they are kidnapped by strangers. They’re taken away from anything that is familiar, and they are brought to a new country… and they are placed in an unfamiliar home.
Now imagine that they don’t know these people… they don’t speak the language… they have no way of escaping or going anywhere that the homeowners don’t allow them to go… and to top it all off, the people in the house (who happen to be twice the size of the kidnapped adult) regularly insult, demean, shame, and exclude said adult and generally abuse them emotionally.
An ADULT would struggle to maintain their sanity in an environment like this, and an adult is far more resourced and has many more tools to handle situations like this. You were a CHILD. You were a child and you were bullied for many years to the point that you tried to take your own life. You are allowed to still have some pain to let go of as a result.”
Upon hearing this, I started bawling my eyes out. It was the first time that I had ever truly allowed myself to feel into my inner child’s pain about how excluded and unwanted I had felt as a result of the bullying I had endured.
Now, my present day adult brain can go “And… it was this exact pain that allowed me to have such deep compassion for people and it helped launch me into my life’s work, etc. etc.”. But before I could transcend the pain, I first had to touch it. Put another way, you can’t drop an emotional experience until you’ve first truly picked it up and held it in your hand. And this was my first instance of really coming into deep contact with it.
3. “Don’t let your mind win.”
In early 2015, I signed up for an in-depth, four month shadow work program that had a reputation for being deeply confronting.
Coming off of my 9th breakup with the same person, feeling deeply isolated and depressed, and having recently lost one of my good friends in a car crash (this was a few months before I signed up to be a part of my weekly men’s group, for anyone who is keeping track), I thought to myself, “Well, it can only get better from here.”
The in-person training had approximately 40 people signed up for it (50% men, 50% women), and in the second week of the training, we were paired up (man and woman) to do an extended eye-gazing exercise.
By this point in my life, I had literally spent hours doing extended eye contact exercises, but almost exclusively with men.
Less than a minute into holding eye contact with the woman I had been paired with, tears started flowing down my cheeks and neck.
Thoughts raced through my mind: “I feel so guilty for how much I’ve hurt the women I’ve broken up with in the past.” “I feel like I can see the innocence and the inner child of this woman… but… oh no! That might man she can see mine too!”
Honestly, today, I can’t tap into the majority of the noise that was spinning through my mind. All I remember is that it felt dizzying, and real.
Right on cue, the group facilitator slowly strolled behind my chair, put one hand on my shoulder and casually whispered, “Don’t let your mind win” into my ear.
Immediately, the tears stopped flowing, and I felt like I had awoken from a dream.