Am I allowed to walk out the door?
"She was radiant; I almost didn't recognize her!"
When you hear this twice in a week, you notice. It rings the bells of other memories, of other times you've seen this same effect: the bloom-time that can come for people whose primary love relationship has ended. After the grief can come a time of radiance and life-expanding change.
It made me look inward this week and ask - Where am I dimming my own light to avoid feared negative-seeming consequences in my own primary relationship? I don't want to wait for someone to die, or for a relationship to end to allow myself as much of the bloom as possible.
Where have I clipped new growth to stay within the bounds of my relationship, and where have I overextended? What small subconscious or conscious choices do I make
daily that hem me in unnecessarily? What small agreements have passed out of usefulness, but been left to stand?
The safer I feel within myself, the more steady I feel to look here. As I learn to regulate my emotional responses, which can feel wild in the moment, I learn I can trust myself, and my ability to respond to the unknown that a change within my relationship will stir up.
For those of us healing from early childhood trauma, anything that feels as though it might threaten our secure connection with our primary love can seem too risky. Better to play it safe and not risk negative-seeming consequences. Better to not rock the boat than to risk being tossed into the water.
As I questioned where I am dimming my light to maintain a sense of security, one example came to mind.
My body wakes up early these days, and I love the quiet dark time in solitude. Sometimes my body wants to go out the door and walk around a bit. But I feel a pinch, an "I shouldn't." As I look at where this internal stop comes from, I remember one morning when my partner woke up and I wasn't in the house. He didn't know where I had gone. I was back within 20 minutes, but he let me know that it had been
unsettling to wake up and not know where I was so early in the morning.
I realize that this moment, 3 years ago, was something I internalized and used to create a STOP for myself. When I felt the impulse to walk out the door this morning, I didn't immediately rise up and go, the way the flow of my body and soul was asking me to. I dithered. My internal dialogue sounded like this: Well, he might wake up and I won't be here - I could leave a note - but it's dark he won't see it - and he would have to find his glasses unless I wrote it really big - and where would I leave the note so he'd find it? If I leave it on my pillow he wouldn't see that - in the bathroom? but he doesn't turn the light on...etc, etc.
And by then, the pure impulse to move with the flow of the morning's energy was gone. I had allowed my fear of negative-seeming consequences to stop me, to dim my light, and to hem me in.
This is a small example, easily fixed with a strategy that meets both our needs, now that it has been brought to my conscious awareness. Other examples rise to the surface, asking for review, and for their own strategy for change and allowance.
I dig a little deeper, and see the underlying fear is "I might get in trouble." I can't just walk out the door, I might get in trouble. I can't _____, I might get in trouble.
For some of us, to be halted by this childish-seeming response may seem laughable. Absurd.
For those of us who grew up in a climate of fear, it might seem frustratingly familiar.
It's also easier to turn our quiet fear into a finger that points outside ourselves for the source of the problem. "I would do that, but they wouldn't like it/don't want me to/disapprove." Those things may still be true as I walk myself out the door before sunrise, but they are not the reason I have hesitated. The fear of the negative-seeming consequence is what stops me. Not my partner. Not anyone else, really, ever.
If you look and see places you bump into your internal STOP, and again and again fall out of following your own flow - who are you blaming? And what might the real reason be?
Photo by Nikola Knezevic on Unsplash