Where can I be unafraid to become who I truly am?
Recently I had a first appointment with a new spiritual director. Since it was an introductory session, she asked me to share my story, as well as why I was seeking spiritual direction and why I had approached her.
Since (as anyone familiar with my podcast and blog on Becoming Me would know) there's a lot to my story, I tried to give just the most important points. Even then it took the bulk of the hour we had, and she listened and took notes here and there without interrupting me. Then, as we neared the end of our hour, it was her turn to speak.
"Who is the person underneath all that seeking, asking all those questions of God, of life?"
She started each sentence with, "I saw..." or "I sensed..." and went on to describe to me what she had received from my sharing. Then she offered me a question - "Who is the person underneath all that seeking, asking all those questions of God, of life? Because there is a person there, you know. Who is she?"
Before I knew it, tears welled up in my eyes and started rolling down my cheeks. After a few moments of silence, I said,"I'm still trying to get to know that person too. I would so love to know who she is!" Somehow in that moment it had hit me that for all the progress I have made in becoming more authentic, there is still so much about my deepest core that I still do not know. It did not make me sad - it just humbled me that there is so much to me - more than I ever imagined.
...there is still so much about my deepest core that I still do not know... it just humbled me that there is so much to me - more than I ever imagined.
It is quite incredible to think that anyone might be interested enough to take the time and effort to really get to know me, and to know my heart. What had hit me when my spiritual director had asked her question was that I am interested and I truly want to put in the time and energy to get to know this person that God created that I know as myself. After all, I wish to come to see myself as God does, and hopefully to love myself as he does too.
But here's the thing. This little task of getting to know my true self is not easy at all. Because my true self only emerges when I set aside my prejudices about who I am supposed to be, or how I am supposed to behave. When I am caught up with performance - with trying to play the roles I have learned will win me approval and good regard - my true self stays hidden because there is no space for her to emerge. When I am performing according to my learned life-scripts - scripts that help me cope with shame and insecurity - I am in a highly defensive mode.
My true self only emerges when I set aside my prejudices about who I am supposed to be, or how I am supposed to behave.
I subconsciously defend myself against censure, judgment or any evaluation that will determine that I am not good enough. I do not wish to give anyone - and that includes myself - a reason to say that I have fallen short. And why do I perform? Because I have learned from life experience, over and over again, that the world is not a place that is safe and welcoming for me to show up simply as me. Over time, "simply me" has remained so hidden that I don't even remember or know who she is anymore.
Over time, "simply me" has remained so hidden that I don't even remember or know who she is anymore.
This entire journey of Becoming Me is about getting reacquainted with the person at the core of all I do. And in order for that to happen, I have needed to enter spaces where another person was more hospitable to my true self than I was capable of being. It is only in those safe spaces that I dared to give voice to feelings and thoughts that I had silenced because of fears that they were 'inappropriate'. It was only in the presence of someone else who did not try to control or shape me, but who was able to mirror me truthfully and lovingly, that I began to discover the treasure that was already within me.
It was only in the presence of someone else who did not try to control or shape me, but who was able to mirror me truthfully and lovingly, that I began to discover the treasure that was already within me.
It was only after I have experienced what such safe spaces felt like that I recognised how unsafe I have always felt to just be myself, even when I was around people who loved me. In fact I learned a valuable but difficult lesson that sometimes the people we love cannot be the safe spaces we need because we are part of each other's wounds and ongoing wounding. Sometimes we need safe spaces outside of our intimate circle so that we can heal and return with greater courage and conviction to be our most authentic and loving selves.
Are you on this journey of becoming? Where are the safe spaces in your life where you can be supported to become your fullest and truest self?
Tune in to my conversation with founder of Anam Cara Ministries (anam cara means 'soul friend' in gaelic) Edwina Yeow about safe spaces in podcast episodes 21 and 22 to discover more about this essential component to your own interior journey.
Listen to Episode 21 Safe Spaces for Becoming (with Edwina Yeow) on the Becoming Me Podcast from Wednesday 5 May, 2021.
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