What I'm Learning
To use one of Ruthie Lindsey’s favorite phrases, a recent podcast by The Liturgists’ titled “What I’m Learning” is “SO IMPORTANT.” Here’s why…
The morning of my birthday, my sweet husband hung out at home with Jonas so I could run a few simple errands solo. I grabbed an almond milk latte from Frothy Monkey and went to a chiropractor appointment (which I did weekly until I went into labor to keep my hips aligned). As I drove around town, I listened to the The Liturgists’ “What I’m Learning” podcast and cried through the first 20 minutes.
Science Mike’s narrative of what he just learned in therapy is the breakthrough I also had in my last session (specifically what he describes starting at the 11 minute mark until the 20 minute mark). He articulated it so beautifully and I’m so grateful for his vulnerability. While I am dealing with completely different fears than he describes which results in different coping mechanisms, the foundation of the revelation remains the same. I’m so thankful for his vulnerability and beautiful articulation of a very personal experience.
To honor his vulnerability, I want to share the recent breakthrough I had in therapy that Science Mike’s story deeply helped me process and articulate. His story helped me process my experience and receive deeper revelation, and I hope my story can do the same for you.
First, I’m learning to hold a more “charitable” view towards myself instead holding shame, judgement, or criticism of who I was and who I am. It so easy to be overly harsh with myself for mistakes I’ve made in the past or unwanted behaviors I continue to exhibit. Specifically, I’m very inflexible and anxious if I have to deviate from my well thought-out, researched, and “perfect” plans or agenda (to be honest, I’m just anxious in general). This causes me to get frustrated or short-tempered easily and additionally frustrated with myself when I exhibit those behaviors. WHAT I LEARNED that is hugely helping me be kinder to myself is that I developed those “perfectionist” tendencies and accompanying anxieties to protect the parts of me that weren’t welcome. Those behaviors aren’t “bad” parts of me to be ashamed of, it is my brain and body keeping me safe.
I’m learning that it’s important to sit still and listen to my body, the fears, and the anxieties when they rise. We as a culture, myself included, don’t pay enough attention to our bodies. We glorify the masculine energy of accomplishment and production and downplay the needed balancing feminine energy that is emotive. Instead of berating myself for my feelings, I’m learning to stop pushing back, to lean in, and listen to that scared child who created these coping mechanisms in the first place.The events that caused the birth these coping mechanism still live in my brain and the beliefs are still there. For me, that belief is that I will lose everything (relationships, emotional connection, friends, etc.) if I am not perfect or perfectly performing to a extremely high set of standards. This untrue belief is the symptom of my brain trying to protect me. Instead of treating myself with unkindness, I’m learning to pause, listen to the voices of fear, thank my brain and my body for working so hard to keep me safe, then rewrite the narrative. “I am safe. I am loved and accepted unconditionally. My emotional connection with others is safe and not dependent on my perfection. My relationships with my husband is a safe place, he does not expect me to be perfect. My relationship with my children is a safe place, they do not expect me to be perfect. My relationships with my friends are safe, they does not expect me to be perfect. They have never done anything to intentionally hurt, punish, or harm me. They are safe. They know I’m not perfect and they still love me.”
I’m listening, validating, understanding and THANKING the fear that has kept me alive. And I’m so very excited to continue to integrate this knowledge into my life as I continue to heal.
Please let me know if this impacted you in any way. I’d love to hear your story and support you in love. Healing is hard and beautiful and we are in it together.
Cover art by Morgan Harper Nichols