Spine, Once Missing, Now Found

Man, I have a shit time standing up for myself. I had a bit of a spiritual awakening this weekend while on a retreat, and I heard one of the speakers say the following about something that happened to her:

“I had experientially located my spine.”

That’s more or less how I felt when I left there. I suddenly realized how much nonsense I’d been putting up with in my life, all for the sake of not ruffling feathers. After all, if I ruffle too many of your feathers, you may not like me, and that is intolerable. Spare me all the obviously logical comments about “not everyone will like you.” I know this. I’ve always known this. That doesn’t make the reality of not being liked any less painful. 

It probably sounds really dramatic. Images are coming to mind of me walking around my neighborhood just yelling at everyone. Honestly, that’s sort of what I thought I’d have to do in order to reclaim myself and all the years of total sheepishness I’ve been putting out there. Turns out, this isn’t such a big deal. The subtle stuff makes the biggest difference.

So I’m sitting at this retreat, in the middle of a meditation session, and it hits me. I like who I am here. There was no inner conversation about what other people like. I didn’t particularly care what anyone there thought of me. That was not my focus while I was there. I simply realized that the version of me that was showing up in that place was a version of me that was awfully close to my authentic self.

My authentic self. 

Even just a week ago, if you’d wanted to know me and what I’m all about, I would have told you to ask one of a small handful of people who know me quite well. I would have never answered that question for fear of saying something that someone else doesn’t agree with. “You’re not quiet.” “You’re not competitive.” “You’re not rebellious.” Whatever. Everyone has a different experience of everyone. We all show people different sides of ourselves – I just think I’d made such a practice of it that I didn’t know what was real anymore.

Right here, right now, I want to list two qualities about myself that are undeniably true, and that I am DONE apologizing for. 

  • I am highly sensitive
  • I am highly spiritual

Both of these qualities can be good and bad. Both can be turn-ons or turn-offs. My sensitivity often rears itself in the form of feeling other people’s feelings before they’ve even recognized them. It can be a great thing in terms of flowing with a conversation or “reading the room,” but it can be terrible if I’m wrong. It can be just as terrible if I’m right and the other person isn’t ready to admit or address their emotions. My spirituality lets me know that at any given time, I am backed by something HUGE. Something much bigger than myself. It helps me to remain calm in the face of danger and adversity, but it can also come across as minimizing problems – especially when I’m in a position of trying to reassure someone else. 

Why is all of this even important? 

This past weekend was a wake-up call. There are two relationships in my life that I was actively in the process of ruining because I was refusing to be authentic. In one – a relationship that I really can’t leave – I didn’t want to set off an endless string of criticism that I’d never be able to get away from. I thought by being accommodating, I’d avoid the mudslide. In the other – a relationship that is held together by very thin threads – I didn’t want my real self ruining it. I thought by suppressing my controversial thoughts and opinions, the relationship would stay afloat.

Thank goodness for my belief system.

I had to address the tenuous relationship first. I realized that if it was worth keeping, it was also worth losing. I spoke my mind, and from what I can tell so far, the relationship has not survived. It’s very sad to me, but again, I’m backed by something much bigger than myself. A wise woman once told me, “rejection is protection.” Normally, I would have gone back and tried to un-do everything I said – to see if I could set things back to the way they’d been. You know what, though? I don’t want that. I don’t want to have to keep my thoughts to myself. I want to be able to share freely with people I care about. It’s hard, and I’m hurting. Even still, I know I did the right thing, and I know I’m going to be fine.

With the other relationship, I am just trying like hell to show up differently. To let my freak flag fly, as they say. I am saying things right in the moment as they come up. I am calling out shitty behavior as soon as I see it. I’m remaining calm even when the heat rises. I am not responding to irrationality. It’s not going very well and I’m being criticized a lot. It sucks, but again, I know I’m doing the right things here. If this relationship is worth keeping… well, it’s worth losing.

So what’s the takeaway in all this? It just seems like all of my fears have come true. 

The takeaway is that I’m fine. I’m a little saddened by the responses I’m getting. But I’m simultaneously so proud of myself for doing this. I have a sense of calm and serenity that I don’t think I’ve ever felt. 

I always say flowery things like “we are exactly where we need to be at any given moment,” but for the first time, I’m actually believing it. The outcome of both of these relationships is unknown, which I hate, but hey, it’s what I need right now.





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