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!“)
You, wild and free, do not fit their plans.
They’d like you to stay in line. Don’t ask for more than your ‘fair share.’
Fortunately, 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 away they’re clear out of sight. Or they’ve fallen 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, in fact, a beautiful gift.
It is what 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 even dream our dreams, let alone fulfill them.
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 I wished to speak of was pushed aside. My tone became the issue. The problem was me. I was spoiled. I was a complainer.
Ouch. I didn’t like those labels.
And so I learned that any commentary, other than 100% satisfied, not only failed to address my original issue, it turned a spotlight of blame upon me. Those labels – ‘complainer,’ ‘spoiled’ – stung, and so I learned to suppress my true thoughts and feelings.
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 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 I was alone. 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 pretended 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 that asking for help was not something I should do. I was more concerned about being judged than I was about the molestation or the breakdown: an emotional crisis I could suppress; being judged for being demanding was more than I could bear.
Of course, not everyone’s story is like mine.
Still, we are all taught in subtle ways that we are 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. As children, we rely upon others for our survival. It is only natural for a child to do anything in its power to obtain their love and approval.
Yet what a price we pay.
We suppress our truth. We push 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 unknown.
How can anyone love us if we have disappeared so completely that we, ourselves, hardly know we exist?
And that is the issue. Our core beliefs manifest themselves in our adult life. The feeling of aloneness as a child becomes a failure to connect with others as an adult. The feeling of not being good enough as a child results in inhibitions about achievement as an adult. And the need to perform in order to win our parents’ love often translates into feeling like a fraud at work or in relationships, no matter how many landmarks we achieve and how much 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. Let’s claim our stories: they really happened.
At times I still shake with the feelings of rage, powerlessness and frustration of what 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.”
It is time to name the experience.
Let’s give 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 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 keeping. 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. 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, precisely the recognition, acceptance and love he or she needed. We have the power to do this and 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 shape 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 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. Learn more at http://rebalinker.com.