Last week, as I was exploring the topic of playfulness in my life, or better the lack of it, I created a list of things that get my juices flowing, things that make me feel alive. Looking at that list, searching for patterns, I saw, to my big surprise, that most activities included the presence of other people. This was kind of unsettling, as I considered myself to be more of an introvert than an extrovert. The list, however, was telling a different story. As I was investigating how to introduce into my life more interaction, I started feeling a mix of acute fear and pain. And I remember thinking to myself: Isn’t it ironic that the thing I need to feel alive is the thing I fear the most?
As I allowed the pain and fear to wash through me, three things became apparent. We can only be truly playful when we stand in our power. To stand in our power we need to fully reclaim our authenticity. And to reclaim our authenticity we need to forgive ourselves. When I talk about forgiving the self, I am not saying I did anything wrong, nor am I saying that I need forgiveness for what I have done, in the traditional sense. Forgiving the self is the process of coming to peace with causing pain and creating suffering by making less than optimal choices that cannot be undone.
When I was bullied on and off as a kid by my best friend, I unconsciously coped by adapting. I became whoever I thought she would like best. In my quest to be loved, I gave away my authenticity. I became a shapeshifter. Without knowing, I would become whoever I thought you wanted or needed me to be. Wanting to be loved more than anything else in the world, I became extremely good at shapeshifting, but it came a very high price, the betrayal of self.
Over the past fifteen years, bit by bit, I have taken back my authenticity. Last week, as I was confronted with a list of activities that were more extrovert than introvert, the pain and fear that little girl felt when faced with the withholding of love by her best friend came to the surface. Mixed in with the pain and fear were shame and self-blame. As I stayed present, self-compassion kicked in. She told me that that little girl had done the best she could, I needed to tell her that it wasn’t her fault, that I was proud of how well she had protected herself. I needed to tell her that everything is okay, that she is perfect as she is, that she will grow up to be a strong and loving person, that she will find friends, real friends, people who love and value her for who she is, that things will work out for the best. As I cried and tapped (my meridian points), cried and tapped, I allowed the pain and subsequent suffering related to my loss of authenticity to move through me. I forgave myself for believing all those years that I must be a worthless friend, for believing that I am not good enough as a friend, no fun to be around, for believing that people would not want to be my friend, for unconsciously doubting the sincerity of my friends. I forgave myself for the far-reaching consequences of my choices, for the pain I caused myself and others by believing these untruths. I forgave myself for valuing the opions of others over those of my own, for not valuing myself enough, for not loving myself enough, for not standing up for myself, for adapting to the point of soullessness.
Again, my reality has changed for the better. I love my life. I love this miraculous journey called Life. I am very excited about this step. And I feel immense gratitude for being surrounded by friends who love me for who I am even when I did not recognize their friendship for what it is. I am looking forward to engage with the world around me in ever-expanding new ways, to be more of all that I came here to be.
picture by Dominik Krebs