I write about facing emotional pain and the absolute grace that comes from embracing it all. I believe that every single ounce of suffering we experience as humans is sacred and when met and embraced, it leads us into greater expansion, understanding of ourselves and our capacity to love.
My process of individuation (psychologist Carl Jung described this as individuation, the process by which the personal and collective unconscious are brought into consciousness to reveal one’s whole personality. In short: it is the process of becoming self-actualized) required me to disengage from many relationships. This solitude was not an actual choice, but a requirement of my body. My body could not “be in life”, as it had been, for a moment longer. It was a vital element in it’s healing. In my healing.
One of the most interesting things that is coming up lately (again) in my process is the need for belonging. And so I wanted to sit down, right here, right now with you and explore this. The following is exactly my process for meeting and feeling and questioning the concepts, assumptions and beliefs I have unconsciously just digested in my life…an exorcism of sorts…getting to the TRUTH behind the conditioning.
I remember Gunnar and I had just got engaged in 2000 and we headed back to my home state, Atlanta to celebrate with friends and family. During one dinner with my family, the question of what last name I will take after we marry came up. I said I wanted to take Gunnar’s last name and my sister became infuriated. She said it would be a betrayal to my father, who had died the year before, to drop our family name. She continued to express her concern by saying if I take my husband’s name “who will Sigrid defer to?” Meaning who will OWN me? Who WILL OWN ME? Like I was a prized show cow and they were negotiating a fair price. I understand it my marriage triggered her in many ways, but this statement sent shock waves through my being.
As I mentioned, my choice to disengage from my family was a vital and necessary step in my healing and my process of individuation, but it has not been easy, because I love them very much. Among other things, it has brought up the intense fear of being alone, of not “belonging” to anyone, of having no home.
I can feel it right now, in my body, there is this need to be seen. To be held. My body feels it. To be understood. Tears. I let it all in…..it feels like my body craves home from others. Like it yearns for its tribe, its pack. A lone wolf out on her own with just her cubs. It feels susceptible, unprotected. That is what it is. Being alone feels unprotected. Like a child does. I have been flanked by others to protect me since childhood. Did they? Have I ever been protected by others or was that something I was just taught to believe? A false sense of power? And protected from what exactly? Wow…wait a second…is true protection what I actually do now for myself? To claim my power? Is true protection and true honor and true respect and true love for myself what I do now in this daring to be alone, unprotected?
What has anyone ever protect me from? Other than basic survival as a child, others have only protected me from the appearance of not belonging! There has never been any other threat. Why is not belonging, why is that a threat? What is that about…feeling this now…
Ahhhh….being protected or flanked by others keeps me from standing in my power, keeps me from growing up. It is a way the old energy keeps especially women down. And we are taught that the family is the sacred unit of love and that we must obey this unit or face alienation, even death. When in fact, in many instances, it is the vehicle for patriarchal conformity and the disempowerment of women and men. It severs us from our true power by making us believe that the family is more important that our very own lives. That is shocking to realize. I remember, a few months ago, having a moment in my kitchen and realized that MY LIFE WAS MY OWN! I was shocked, but more shocking was the next questions…if I am just realizing that my life is my own, what had I been believing up until this point? That my life was owed to others! Holy shit….But we are brainwashed. I have been brainwashed into believing that family was the ONLY source of love and belonging, that it was more important that me! It can definitely be a wonderful environment full of nurturing and support, but what if belonging, true belonging, never came from anyone else? What if the urge for belonging never meant to be sourced from anyone else and only meant to “BELONG TO ONESELF”? To come Home to Wholeness….
I stop for a moment and feel that little one inside me that still attempts to belong to feel safe through being protected, owned by others. I AM SO SAFE TO FEEL THIS GRIEF. She can be here as long as she likes. I embrace this wave as an act of loving me. And compassion arises and I feel HOME, safe within myself. Looking to others to give me what I can only give myself is giving away my power and my sense of safety. But by feeling the urge to do just that and the grief that ensues, THROUGH that pain, I find belonging within my very own heart. And Wholeness. Wholeness is navigating Life from the knowing that I am safe. That is true power.
I wanted to end with an amazing quote by Bethany Webster from her article The Most Insidious Forms of Patriarchy Pass Through the Mother. She writes an amazing blog called Womb of Light, I highly recommend it. She speaks about the patriarchal message being conveyed between the mother-daughter relationship, but I believe it can be said of many family units in general.
“The dynamics between mothers and daughters that cause pain all have one similarity. It doesn’t matter whether a mother is neglectful on one end of the spectrum or invasive on the other end; the same patriarchal message is conveyed, which is that compliance is required in order to be accepted. One could say that that is the core message of patriarchy to both men AND women: You will not be loved unless you obey. This message permeates us from all facets of society: education, religions, governments and media. In order to be fully empowered, actualized and fulfilled, we as women must be disloyal to the patriarch in our mothers and consequently, the patriarch within ourselves.”
photo: taken by my daughter of me hugging a tree.