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Baby I was Born this Way

Last week, I screamed with delight when I saw the orchid in my office had bloomed. I had been slowly tending it over time, waiting for the flowers to return. Every day since, more and more flowers have opened and it has been just a sheer joy to watch.

Orchid on a table
Her first blossom!

And, of course, it got me thinking.

I have been in some form of therapy most of my adult life. As the sensitive, deeply curious, over thinker with very practical parents, I have been trying to understand all of my complications for decades. Why did I need to be this way? Counseling was not something that people in my family did. I was the only one curious about myself, at least enough to seek out the opinions of professionals.

Can you fix my quirks? Please? 

Over twenty years later and I am still the quirky, sensitive and curious girl I have always been. Therapy did bring me great insights however.

The first, a quirky, earthy sort, taught me that people mate at similar levels of insecurity. At first, I am sure I raised an eyebrow at this one. But then over time, I realized he was right. “Even if one of them seems normal and the other is not, they are the same,” he told me.  When one starts to change and work on themselves, and the other doesn’t, that is when people start to separate. This also tracks with my observations over time. 

There was a woman, who I saw only briefly, who taught me that narcissistic people are truly seeking unconditional love. They test every boundary to insure they have it. When they see they don’t, they step away, cheat, lie, sabotage, whatever it takes to leave and find the love that will fill their very big holes. Again, this tracks. Leave before you get left, ruin before it gets ruined. Check.

There was another man I saw who was very formal and seemed mildly impatient with me most of the time. He was the only one who wore a tie and carried a briefcase. He taught me about Charlie Brown and Lucy and the football. When we are in situations where we keep “kicking the football” (fill in your own blank here as to what that might be in your own life) at some point we have to recognize this is a total waste of energy and the best thing we can do is to step back. Don’t kick the “football” and Lucy won’t keep setting it up for you. This lesson was super hard to grasp but oh so helpful in changing the course of some of my more challenging relationships. When they pick the fight, the better thing is not to take the bait, but to just not engage. (This works, but damn is it hard to implement.)

To match the earthy fellow from the early days, I did have a woman I saw for a while who was in the same genre. She was wonderful, colorful, open and helpful in so many way. She even had glitter in her hair which I admired her for. She taught me I was not feeling my feelings, and also I was not allowing my kids to feel theirs. I then learned this was a pattern I had been taught in my family. She ultimately encouraged me to go to spiritual development circles for evidently she could see what I could not. 

Then there was the woman who I shall refer to as “the one who broke up with me.” She was great. Sensitive like me, autoimmune diseases to match mine, smart, insightful and also perhaps mildly impatient with me. (Theme… I picked impatient counselors for a long time.)

While I was already a student of trauma and how it shows up in the body, she showed me in real life how my nervous system interacted with my brain and my emotions. She was judgmental about my spiritual pursuits however, even though to my way of thinking, Shaman and some mental health counselors do the same work. They resurrect long discarded parts of ourself and reintegrate it into our current life. This allows for more energy, a feeling of wholeness and self acceptance.  She did eventually break up with me because I wasn’t “traumatized enough”. That was after my mom died. In theory, I should’ve broken up with her when she judged me, but I was not as evolved then as I am now.

And now I see a man who is a freaking unicorn. He is patient with me (mostly), he encourages me, he allows me to be myself without judgement and he is also awesome at making sense of my wonky dreams. I have learned so much from him about myself, about dreams, Carl Jung and the nervous system and trauma. He loves yoga and all the ways it can heal our broken bits. All in all, a much better match for me. 

So why am I taking this trip down memory lane of my mental health history? 

In nearly every one of these relationships as I will call them, we have explored this concept of self love. I always get mad when someone suggests that I didn’t love myself. Like, I would have visceral reactions to this sentiment. “Of course I love myself!,” I would retort. 

They would usually look at me like, hmm, well then why do you do the things you do?

I have read all the memes, the articles, the self help books. To me self love is a little like forgiveness. Vague, subjective and totally personal in tone and the way it shows up. They are also deeply entangled concepts.

How do I forgive someone who totally sucks or did something terrible to me? I am well studied, as I said, I have read the books, I have listened to the podcasts, done all the things. I get it. We drink the poison if we continue to hold a grudge. Sure, that makes sense. We don’t have to like those who have wronged us, we just don’t hold ill will for them. Um, I guess. But also, that is super hard. 

How do I love myself when I think of the ways I have self sabotaged over time by choosing things that have hurt me or put me in bad spots? How do I see through adult eyes how young me was just trying to keep everyone else happy? Or how do I love this aging body that is changing faster than I can keep up with? Can I focus on the soul inside of her, the one who never changes, who always sees the truth?

So many questions, so many things to consider. 

I like this from Brene Brown: "I know my life is better when I work from the assumption that everyone is doing the best they can." 

Aren’t we always doing that? Even other younger versions of me, she was always doing her best. Can we leave her be and stop the self flagellation? Can I show her some love and forgiveness and compassion? I sure can. Now anyways, with time, learning and perspective.

Because I think if we don’t, we end up living a life of continual self sabotage.

So back to self love and forgiveness, those tricky tools. 

I am super good at taking care of my family, my friends, my dogs and my clients. 

I have not however always been as good to myself. Even if I appeared to be taking care of myself, it was in the name of seeking perfection,  cellulite abatement or punishment for my big weird feelings and curiosities. 

Lately, however, I do nice things for myself to make tomorrow easier. 

For example, I cut the dogs pills in quarters the night before, while I am thinking of it. I do this because in the morning I am less likely to have my glasses on and more likely to be grumpy and tired. 

I put the tea bag in the cup the night before so in the morning I can just turn around and pour the hot water. Done.

I clean up the kitchen, not because I am neurotic but because in the morning everything will feel harder when it’s a mess. 

I have all of my yoga gear in a bag that I can easily grab and take with me to the studio because I am usually running late. 

When my body is rejecting something or is very tired, I listen to it and act accordingly.

These might feel like simple things, and they are. But there is something super nice about deciding to take care of myself the same way I would take care of my family or anyone else. 

I guess I am a slow learner in some respects. 

Yes, these wise counselors have helped me immensely. So have all the books, podcasts, journaling, yoga and self awareness tools. Deepening my study of Astrology and Human Design however have made the biggest difference. Turns out, I am exactly as I was born to be. A curious, deeply feeling, intuitive, quirky woman with many interests and passions. This is what I was put here for. To go through all of this, learn the things and share. That is my jam. To help others who feel like I have felt. Hopefully, allowing others to find their way faster than I did and live more fully sooner. 

Orchid in a window
Look at her now! She is blossoming machine!

But much like the orchid I have been waiting patiently to bloom again, we all have a time table. We bloom when we are meant to.

Hopefully, we can have patience with ourselves, continue to give light and water and nourishment and love, while we wait for the bloom.

Love, Christy 


PS If you want to learn more about your own natural tendencies, I am here for you!

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