Name It But Don’t Claim It!
(Rather hear than read this post? Click here for a 10 minute Youtube video of Reba reading “Name It But Don’t Claim It!“)
For millennia, it’s been the job of society to shut you down. It’s easier for the powers that be if you do not inconvenience them. You, wild and free, do not fit their plans. Just do your bit to support the system and stay in line. Don’t ask for more than what they’ve decided is your fair share.
Fortunately, more and more people are waking up. They look around and say, in the immortal words of the Talking Heads…
“This is not my beautiful life!”
(Once in a Lifetime)
We wake up and discover that the dreams we held as children are so far down the road they’re clear out of sight. Or they’ve fallen so far behind us, tossed and forgotten, like so much rubbish by the side of the road.
We’re shocked to discover…“This is not my beautiful life!”
And the recognition that we no longer recognize ourselves is exactly what propels us on the path of self-love. It propels us to seek the answers to the questions…
What happened to me?
Where are my dreams?
Why doesn’t my life contain the joy and fulfillment I dreamed of as a child?
Society has evolved effective means of shutting us down through fear, humiliation, shame, blame, pain and judgment. These tools convince us that we are not worthy. They persuade us that we don’t have a right to our dreams.
Our role is to do our bit and not make waves. As women in particular, we are trained to play a secondary role, supporting the more extravagant gestures of the central players.
We absorb these lessons from teachers, neighbors, friends and parents. Without intending to hurt anybody, the adults in our lives, schooled in the very same system, pass the lessons along.
My childhood home was a place of conflict.
I never saw my parents laughing together or holding hands. They divorced when I was six. Anytime I tried to express something other than 100% satisfaction, my father’s reliable response was “I don’t like your tone.” Thus, the issue that caused me to speak up was pushed aside. My tone became the issue. The problem was me. I was spoiled. I was a complainer.
And so I learned that any commentary, other than 100% satisfied, not only failed to address the original issue, it turned a spotlight of blame upon me. I was out of the frying pan and into the fire.
While those around me had license to act out in all kinds of ways, somehow I was expected to be unfailingly selfless. In effect, I was trained to be less than fully human. Emotions – other than 100% satisfied – were for other people, not for me.
Worst of all, I learned that I was alone. There was no help for my original complaint, and no help when my complaint was used against me. As a child of six I accepted my lot and drew the cloak of aloneness around me like a shield.
This self-definition became the greatest prison of all.
I looked with hungry eyes at people connecting with each other and knew, with utter certainty, that aloneness was the condition of my life. And so I maintained my distance even when others invited me to join their circle of warmth.
I was a terrific pretender. No one could see through my mask. Even I couldn’t recognize my emotional state for what it was. I wouldn’t be ready to do that for many years.
I may have had what some people would call an emotional crisis when I was 17. Of course I never told anybody. I just ignored it and kept pretending everything was okay, just as I had done when I was sexually molested when I was six, and when I got my heart broken at 16. I simply pushed the experiences down inside me and soldiered on.
Admitting to a breakdown would have been a cry for help–and I had learned very well that asking for help was not something I should do. I was more concerned about being judged than I was about the breakdown: an emotional crisis I could suppress; being judged for being demanding was more than I could bear. Even as a baby I had been left to cry myself to sleep, an experiment in child-rearing popular in some circles at that time.
Of course, not everyone’s story is like mine.
Still, we are all taught that we are unworthy and not good enough and those lessons stay with us until we do something about them.
If we are not the best in school, we are, by definition, less than.
If we have urges that don’t fit the ‘norm,’ we are too much than.
When we are too loud, too soft, too friendly, too shy, too anything, we are not right, acceptable and lovable exactly as we are.
Through shame, blame, judgment and condemnation, our culture makes the child feel responsible for the discomfort of the adult. Again, the adults are only passing along what they learned. The child feels pain – she’s too angry; he has an objection – he’s spoiled; he experiences his sexuality – he’s perverted; she has desires – she’s greedy; he speaks up – he’s too demanding; she fails to speak up – she’s asking for it.
We are made to feel shame about our natural thoughts and feelings. So we learn to conceal our truth and pretend to be other than that which we are.
I tried to be the child my parents asked me to be. We rely upon our elders for our survival. It is only natural for a child to do anything in its power to obtain their love and approval.
Yet what an exorbitant price we pay.
We suppress our truth, pushing it down so far it is almost forgotten.
The irony is we can never win the love we are seeking in that way. Even winning our parents’ approval is a hollow victory, for that approval rewards the false self we created to please them. Our authentic identity remains suppressed deep inside, unrewarded and ignored.
How can anyone love us if we have disappeared so completely that we, ourselves, hardly know we exist?
And that is exactly the issue. The feeling of aloneness as a child translates into a sense of isolation as an adult. The feeling of not being good enough as a child results in feeling like a fraud at work, no matter how well we perform, and no matter how much recognition we receive.
This is not to claim the role of victim. This is to name that which is. If you were short-changed by a storekeeper, you wouldn’t deny what happened. Rather, you’d acknowledge it, and then decide what to do about it.
Yet we’ve been trained to remain silent, as if any type of abuse we experience is somehow our own fault. It is time to acknowledge what happened. You were told to be less than. You were taught to hide your true self, your magnificence. It’s true. It really happened. You are no longer alone with that pain, the way you might have been as a small child.
At times I still shake with the feelings of rage, powerlessness and frustration of all that I experienced. I feel the emotions of that little child who was so locked up inside. Sometimes I want to shout and tell the world, “This happened to me.”
Indeed, it is time to name the experience.
Let us allow ourselves the right to feel our feelings and cry out like Howard Beale in the movie Network: “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!”
Let’s call it out. Let’s allow ourselves to express something less than 100% satisfied for a moment. And then let’s move on.
Let’s name it but don’t claim it.
Let’s not claim the role of victim for ourselves. For if we argue for that role, then it’s ours, and that’s not a prize worth fighting for. And that’s not what our inner child would choose for herself.
When I rage and shake, then I remember that I have the power to heal myself through self-love. I can have compassion for the little girl. I can love the little baby who was so wordlessly indignant at being left to cry herself to sleep.
Now that we’ve grown, perhaps our parents are gone or too set in their ways to ever acknowledge that hurt child still waiting for the embrace of acceptance and love. We, ourselves, must become the parents we longed for. Our hearts must reach out and give that infant, that inner child, exactly the recognition, acceptance and love he or she needed. We are the ones to help her move past the pain, to finally grow up and take her place in the world.
Until they are addressed those hurts continue to exert a powerful influence in shaping our lives. If we want freedom from those limiting ideas we must go within to rescue and redeem our inner children. This is self-love on a deep level. That embrace of the inner child, and her ability to move beyond the trauma of the past, is the unconditional love and freedom we’ve been seeking and moving towards our whole lives.
healer, storyteller, mystic, teacher
Reba hosts the Youtube interview show Paint Yourself Into the Picture, and she is Founder of AtoZ Healing Space. She lives by the motto “every obstacle is a doorway, you just need to look for the opening.” Reba studied with a spiritual teacher for many years, and is certified in TIME Heals, Universal Sphere and ZPoint Process. She brings all this, plus humor, business savvy, and her own life lessons to her work with clients. Learn more at http://rebalinker.com.