Learning to Unlearn
Forging my own path to learning to more fully express all parts of myself is not easy. I come from a history of being constantly silenced and shamed for who I am from a young age. I couldn’t cry, talk about my feelings, share my thoughts or concerns, without deliberation about whether or not I had a right to have and share those thoughts or feelings. Whether they were valid or acceptable. Church was no better, I grew up in a very strict, oppressive and intolerant religious environment. Often major concerns from members were met with shaming for feelings or not believing/doing/praying enough, and then a one size fits all prescription of spiritually bypassing those concerns with cut and paste statements to “Just pray about it”. There is a lot of uncertainty in honoring the ways that we are different from what is considered the norm. For me it is almost like a daily conscious effort in accepting those parts of me that I do not fully understand, and that ironically make up a lot of who I am. Also as I am learning to accept these parts, I am learning that allowing myself to fully show and express those parts can be overwhelming and often anxiety provoking. There is an internal tug of war that occurs that seems to pull me back and forth from reacting from old patterns of not expressing the parts of me that are not deemed as the ‘norm’ and from learning to allow certain more ‘unacceptable’ parts of me show up in my relationships and life. I am talking about things from not expressing feelings or boundaries(in order to keep some semblance or impersonation of peace) to unconsciously or consciously denying a part of one’s identity because it may not be acceptable. Most of this is conditioning from parents, society, religion and traumatic experiences. I also believe that a lot of these patterns can also be generational ways of being. I am finding that gentleness and compassionate observation(and questioning) are really helping me get through these moments of confusion. Also making changes to my environment (where I can) and bringing the principles of allowing myself to express myself more fully in my relationships has been very cathartic. This process is not going to be perfect, or linear. I am human. I am learning to unlearn these patterns and understand that this is a lifelong journey, not a destination.