I loved my father and desperately wanted his love, approval and acknowledgement—but after a lifetime of trying to measure up I never succeeded. Little did I know then how his rejection of my basic essence would warp things and lead me down a path that was fuelled by a desire to be perceived as responsible, productive, and hard-working and most certainly a finisher—at all cost. Without really understanding the process a rift began to develop between what was authentic for me and things I needed to compensate for as a result of my father’s rejection. Through time the chasm grew.
I began to develop an identity around outwardly driven goals of image-management that were fuelled by the urges of a harsh inner critic to whom I never measured up. In contrast the whisperings of my inner spiritual world had creative urges that sought expression. When for fleeting moments I’d tune into that inner space it felt graceful, inventive and teeming with possibility. Unfortunately those creative urges were quelled by outwardly driven motivators. There was a greater need to prove to my father, the world and myself that I was not the inadequate, irresponsible wing-nut Dad said I was.
A mind-trap developed and it drove me hard. There were some pay-offs though and I often found myself basing in accolades from others. I interpreted their comments about not having an off-switch—or being the energizer bunny and laughingly saying they wanted to remove my batteries as proof that I wasn’t some idiosyncratic misfit. Their comments fed ego-driven needs that pushed me onwards and upwards. The ‘busy-ness syndrome’ became a way of life and helped keep the inner critic at bay. Through time the incongruities of living within a house divided began to create a variety of health problems.
Feeling burdened by inadequacy and living an inauthentic life led to the development of two eating disorders. Patterns of compulsive coping alternated between self-starvation (anorexia nervosa) and binge/purge cycles of bulimia and laxative abuse. Long muffled signals of what it felt like to feel unencumbered, free, happy became distant echoes for over thirty years. Other times feelings of fear, dissatisfaction and inadequacy engulfed me completely. Other times the ‘busy-ness’ would cause my body to rebel and the only way it could preserve itself and slow me down was to create illnesses or accidents. Even then I could not relax and truly let go—my mind was so locked into driven, self-punishing workaholism that it never left room for sustained periods of inner peace and after a series of setbacks I developed fibromyalgia. That turned out to be one of my greatest life lessons because it had such a slowing effect that it allowed to realize I was searching for something and I began to look for new ways to increase my spiritual bandwidth.
Somewhere along the path I had rejected most forms of organized religion because my mind could not reconcile the gaping discrepancies that were (in my opinion) too blatantly obvious for any thinking, questioning person to ignore. I wanted a relationship with a different kind of Deity—one that was available every moment of every day and one that could provide a more compassionate lens for me to view my life. That was not what I found within many pious pulpits. After many health challenges I began to look for a spiritual life rather religiousness formulated only on the outer and perceptions of human thinking.
Even though my busy mind kept waking hours jammed to the point of bursting there were more frequent connections breakthroughs to what I knew was a Higher Power. During those times I’d feel calmer and was kinder and gentler towards others. In a similar feel there were some really special moments where my creative urges would return and so would my bliss. But those times were short-lived. The hard-wired imprinting of my youth would re-activate the negative areas of my brain and the old groove would become a vacuous trap that would suck me back into deep feelings of inadequacy about not being productive—and therefore not good enough. The mind-trap of busy-ness that had become a distinct personal identifier took years to transform. But the interesting part of it all was that my personal challenges and healing journey led me on a quest and that allowed me to create a successful career as a life coach, group leader and free-lance writer.
Eventually I developed enough awareness to see that the inner saboteur was making it difficult to take care of body and my whole self and I began to find ways to re-frame my thinking and as I changed my beliefs—my outer life changed as well. After recovering memories of sexual abuse I was able to overcome both two eating disorders and live a more balanced, fulfilling life. As I healed and became more whole I met the love of my life and married for the second time. My relationship with David created a safe haven for what at times felt like a bedraggled body and spirit. With his encouragement, love and support I began to see things differently. During the times my driver would come back in full force David would create peaceful pauses by gently asking—“When is enough ever going to be enough for you? As I watch you it is clear that you never take any real pleasure in your accomplishments—you just finish something—then barely pause to enjoy anything before saying---NEXT! You are a fiercely creative and a very original thinker—yet you reject the very essence of who you are and what you do. Can’t you see that you are treating yourself and your achievements the same way your father did?”
One would think that kind of feedback would be an epiphany and clang a chord that evoked instantaneous change—but it didn’t happen that way for me. As with most growth processes change comes by taking three steps forward, two steps back then three steps forward until we make lasting changes. It took awhile, but positive reinforcement from David and trusted gal pal Carole eventually allowed me to erase the previous programming and I came to accept that nothing in life is as high-stakes as I once believed After years of white-knuckle, nail-biting challenges I now have a ‘so what’ attitude and no longer feel any need to justify I how I choose live. By choosing to stop worrying about other people’s perceptions it is easier to follow my own Loadstar.
That attitude allowed me to slow down and write a 500 page manuscript about my healing journey and spiritual development. I’ve Been There—A Testimony of Hope www.ibtbook.com is now circulating to various publishers and although I look forward to seeing it in print in 2012. It will be another visual reminder that will assist me in erasing my father’s opinion that I am not a ‘finisher.’ The ripple effect of that inner knowing has allowed me to become more capable, responsible and discerning than I ever dreamed possible. Being able to accept that my quirks, flaws and eccentricities are a viable aspect of what makes me unique has finally silenced that harsh voice from the past that contributed to inner and outer chaos.
Repeated exposure to any emotional state creates coping patterns that can be healthy or unhealthy. Within my own life I learned that the better I feel---the better I feel. The old continuum has found a different path to follow and the momentum continually contributes to improved health, increased well-being and a more balanced lifestyle.
It is a far cry from the fragmented, disjointed, dissociated way I once lived. Once I grew tired of feeling entrapped within my ‘personal displeasure centers’ my intention to change created a positive ripple effect. I built upon the original desire for change by opening myself to the love and support of my partner David, having some and holding firm to the decision leave old self-perceptions behind live a more authentic life.
Thankfully with practice and persistence it became easier to reveal more of who I really am. That has created a sense of solidarity between my inner landscape and outer activities. At long last it is possible to respect and honor my inner self and she is now open enough to hear whispers from that All-knowing voice within and it is more powerful than anything my father said and that awareness phased out the busy-ness syndrome that had defined me for the earlier part of my life and now I am free to live a more conscious life, centered life on my own terms!