In recent months, I’ve been called to explore a new and different direction in my coaching practice. Don’t get me wrong, I love to help people uncover their path and will continue to do so. But I have received several “hits” that there is more to do. I need to dig deeper, connect to some of my old wounds, and use those experiences to help others. Sure, I’ve touched on some of the trauma I endured in my 20s and even in my 40s, but truth be told, I’ve known for a while that I was only scratching the surface.
In a world where we’re having to wear physical masks, I’m aware, more than ever, that I have to remove the last of the unseen masks and reveal some deeper truths. There’s a reason I had to learn certain lessons and now those reasons are being revealed to me.
We’ve heard expressions such as “she lost her voice” or “he lost his power.” But I don’t believe you lose your voice or your power. It may feel lost because it’s so deeply enshrouded in layers of dense memories and trauma. But underneath the murky sludge is a beautiful, perfect, inner flame, just waiting to be revealed. It took me a long time to learn that the amount of crap a person takes is in direct proportion to their self-worth. Once the scale tips past the point of what you’ll accept, only then will you leave a bad situation. At least that’s how it unfolded for me. I stayed in bad relationships and toxic job situations way longer than what was healthy.
Part of it came down to my people-pleasing personality. I was always nice. But was I? That’s what people thought. In reality, it was a coping strategy. Be nice, don’t make waves, don’t make a fuss. It’s no wonder that years later while watching the movie “Frozen,” I connected to Elsa’s character. I felt a twinge in my heart when her father told her to “conceal, don’t feel.” I learned from an early age to make everyone else’s life easier, to make them feel better. Yet, the more I did this, the worse I would feel. It’s not as if I were respected or loved more. Under the surface, under this “nice” façade, was rage—rage at myself for allowing people to walk on me, rage at those who took advantage of my “niceness.” Everyone took generous helpings, of what I was freely offering, leaving my plate empty.
If you have people in your personal and professional life who treat you like crap, why is that?
Yes, we teach people how to treat us. But it goes deeper than that. Why do we teach what we teach? What’s the payoff (because there’s ALWAYS a payoff)? Look around. If you have people in your personal and professional life who treat you like crap, why is that? This isn’t about “blaming the victim,” but we have to start asking questions. I had been aware of what was happening, but it wasn’t until the ripe age of 51 that I questioned why it was happening. What was my part in the equation? What patterns had I carried over from childhood? What wounds had been covered up long ago but were still festering under the surface?
I thought I had already dealt with my “stuff.’ But I needed additional healing. I needed to dig up the dirt, even though I didn’t want to. I had to see it to clean it. I had created a persona that was put together. It had taken years to build her and I was rather attached to her. But that persona wasn’t real. It was not me and all the Divine that I truly am. It was a shell. It was the façade of a house on a movie lot—no real rooms, or depth or running water—a 2-dimensional structure. If I wanted people to see the real house with all its many rooms with flaws, dust, and clutter, I was going to have to demolish the façade. I was going to have to be vulnerable and let people see ME.
Once I decided that I had to learn about myself, I hired my coach-a man who was more like a spiritual guide. I cried many times in those early sessions and felt my words caught in my throat. This is common for people who have stifled their voice. Years of not speaking your truth, not giving yourself permission to scream, “HERE I AM IN ALL MY POWER AND YOU CAN’T HURT ME!” starts a flood. Once the voice is unleashed, it’s as if the dam breaks. That might look like choking sobs or it might look like a jolt of energy as, once again, you connect to your power. Out of the shadows, the internal flame now exposed, can grow bigger and brighter.
One of my superpowers has always been to make others feel good. The shadow side of that is that I could make them feel bad just as easily—not even meaning to.
I can be blunt. So, in the beginning, after my dam broke, I wanted to get everything I had been holding in, out. I would bring up injustice wherever I noticed it. I could tell I was rubbing people the wrong way. “So what?” I thought. “They will hear me!” Mama Bear was out of her cage! Gradually I learned to harness this power, but not bury it. It’s a balance.
I quickly learned that not everyone was going to resonate with the new me, or rather the real me. I had to find my tribe, forgive those that hurt me. I had to forgive the ones who only loved the façade. As I became comfortable standing in my power, the “noise” fell away. Now I get to do deeper work with members of my tribe and I can’t wait to help them unmoor their true selves from the docks of playing small. I’ve also learned that my purpose isn’t fixed and my path isn’t linear. By accepting the call, I can’t go wrong—whatever that call may be. Time to raise my voice, but this time not from a place of rage. This time the voice bubbling up is one of power, hope, and healing.