Or, in other words: how I opened a door in myself I really wanted to keep closed up until then.
Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love. ~ Rilke
Last week, due to some magic circumstances, I allowed myself for the first time ever to really look at, be with, and explore what until then I had fiercely judged to be my most unloveable part: my neediness.
Personally, and professionally, I am committed to being with whatever arises in the present moment. I believe my ever-growing capacity to be with, and open to, all there is in myself, also builds my capacity to be with all those parts in others. As a fierce and curious explorer of my inner world, I want to – as a dear friend so beautifully says – open all the doors inside of me and walk through the whole building. It is a continuous practice, that puts me on my edge again and again. And it’s where I want to be. It is like I cannot not be there. This continuous exploration allows me to unfold, unravel and unmask, allows me to find more peace, more acceptance, more compassion, and more grace.
But within all that commitment, my neediness was a part of me that I had left untouched. That was one door I deeply feared to open, because of my judgement that whatever was hiding in that room was immensely unloveable. And I believed that showing that unloveable part of myself to others, would cause others to stop loving me.
A very good reason not to open that door
Whenever neediness popped up in my life it simply had to go. As fast as possible. All my spaciousness, relational capacity, inquiry into myself and willingness to explore would go out the window. It would be replaced by emergency code red action plans. “How can I fix this ASAP?”. “Which book to read?” “Which class to follow?” “Do I need to take a walk, sit still, dance, cook, distract, be with, allow, inquire, journal, get drunk? All of the above?” Anything to get rid of it as soon as I possibly could. And in the process I would just feel awful. Head racing, body tense, heart contracted. Soul shrivelled.
I would feel very separate. From my body. My self. The world. The people I most wanted to feel connected to. Often intimate partners.
Nowadays, when signals like that show up in my life, I tend to get curious. What is happening? What is causing my system to go into overdrive? And getting curious about this one was really hard. It seemed there was a lot at stake. And I did it anyway. I finally allowed myself to stop. And say hi.
Maybe it was time. Maybe I reached that point where I did not want to hide that part of me anymore. Maybe I just stopped believing some of my stories.
So I started to investigate. And I discovered that my neediness in itself was not so much the complicated part. It was, and is, a very tender part of me. Crazy tender at times.
It was something else that made it wonky, the stuff out of crazy movies. Shame. I felt massive, copious amounts of shame about feeling needy. Shame made sure that needy part never ever got out, guarding that room like a tigress.
And when it would get out, it came out all warped, by shame. It became a shrivelled hag, desperate for more love, more confirmation, more anything, never feeling satisfied. Ready to destroy whatever needed to be destroyed for me to get my hit. Of love. And then it was still never enough.
It was a double wammy, and not of the good kind. I felt needy. And then I made myself massively wrong for it. Shame created judgement, or judgement created shame. In the end it doesn’t matter. What I do know is that I felt so ashamed about my hag that I did everything in my capacity not to unleash that onto the world. That would be disastrous. That would definitely have me loose all the love in my life.
Do you feel sad reading this? I do. It was a lot of painful work.
Shame. Brene Brown speaks about it so eloquently. She calls it an unspoken epidemic, the secret behind many forms of broken behaviour. Check out her amazing video on shame here. And, according to Brene empathy is the antidote to shame.
And that’s exactly what I did: I started empathising with myself. I slowly started peeling off the layers. I allowed myself to not be ashamed for a whole day. O, it came back, over and over, during that day, signalled by the familar contraction in my body, my sense of shrivelling. And then I said to myself: it’s only a day, you can do this. And I did.
And something beautiful happened. My neediness came out of its room, and started to expand and transform. It was literally working through my body. It was swirling, moving around, unfolding. Almost like a silk shawl that moves in the wind. Very delicate. And so beautiful and tender, like a butterfly. I felt so touched witnessing that part of me.
It felt sacred
I could not possibly label it ‘neediness’ anymore. It was just a beautifully delicate part of me that unfolded in the light, almost fairy-like. It was not bad, it was just extremely delicate. It made sense that I had wanted to hide that, wanted to protect that delicacy. It did not make sense anymore to make it wrong.
There was life, magic, in there
So I sat with it. I embraced it. And ever since that day I feel more tender, more open to the world. It’s like my heart has opened just a little wider, to encompass and feel more. Another room has been added to the building. It’s also terrifying. And so, so beautiful.
And I did something else. It felt not enough to just allow myself to witness it and be with it. I wanted to be witnessed by another, to be seen in this. So I shared my neediness. With the person I felt needy towards. I had never allowed myself to express it fully, in all it’s crazy wackiness. But I realised I wanted to be known in this and – hopefully – loved in this. And so I shared it all. It was terrifying. And so right. And so new. And I feel ever so grateful it got received with such grace and acceptance. And love.
Grace. That word keeps popping up in my system. Grace, and gratitude. Deep gratitude for the simplicity of just opening a door and allowing whatever, or whoever is inside to come out and play. And have beauty unfold right in front of me.
I don’t really want to wrap this up with a nice ‘learning tip’. It feels too sacred for that.
But if reading this resonates, if you know what doors you keep firmly locked, what is holding you back from opening them? And would it really be so bad to take a peek inside?
To really look at what, or who, is living there? You might be deeply surprised. And in awe. I know I was. And am.