Most of the time when I’m going about my days I forget all about how old I am.
But then sometimes, it hits me….Whoaaaa…..I’m 46 years old.
Like, how did that happen? And so quickly, too!
Never mind that I always assumed by the time I reached this ripe old age I would be, well, older.
As in, wiser. Smarter. More peaceful. Self-content.
I guess I thought I would have most everything that bugs me about myself kind of figured out or resolved or something. Because there are plenty of other things about life and this world that need working out, but if I can’t even work myself out, I won’t be much use in those other critical need areas.
The thing is, though, I got to the age part before I got to the wisdom part. Even after so many dedicated years of striving to heal myself, working from about the time I was born and moving forward year by year, I still feel like I’m decades behind myself.
I look back and see a string of uncomfortable memories laced with insecurity, fragility, plus a sort of wobbly spirituality that has helped me survive but not yet thrive.
I also see an ever-unfolding effort to connect (reconnect?) with the wellspring of inner intuition rumored to exist within us all, hoping that will serve as a more reliable self-healing guide than self-help books and the type of fairly useless exercises my mind likes to make up to “help” me.
But most of all, what I have begun to see lately is a shy unwillingness, likely born of a lifetime-to-date of unworthiness-feelings, to really FEEL how much life has hurt, in the past and sometimes still in the present.
And I’m not really sure how to describe my newfound approach to getting to the bottom of this type of longstanding un-healed hurt, except to say that it seems to require dropping all internal explanations, excuses, rationalizations or grateful trade-offs (i.e., “well that hurt a lot but at least I learned this good lesson from it…”)……
I have to drop all that and just HURT. Hurt until it hurts less, and then (ideally) not at all.
But I also figure that, if whatever-it-is still hurts after all these years, chances are good even the strongest pair of rose-colored classes or the passage of additional soothing decades isn’t going to make much more of a dent.
As I have begun to wade back into the actual hurt and feel it, another realization has emerged, which is that I am still mostly seeing myself from the outside in. I see myself as less-than, through the eyes of former critics, departing boyfriends, mysteriously disappearing friends, hyper-judgmental teachers and bosses and co-workers.
In the past, I have tried to remedy this by simply switching to my best “inside out” vision. But clearly that hasn’t worked out quite like I expected it to. I’ve finally discovered that my inner eyes have internalized all of that criticism and judgment and condemnation too, so when I look at myself, it doesn’t really matter whether I’m seeing me from the outside-in or the inside-out.
I’m still seeing the same flawed, less-than, weak, wobbly me.
Clearly, I need to see myself through a set of much kinder and more generous eyes with a bigger picture perspective than what I currently have access to.
This morning, after feeling a particular unfolding hurt as deeply as I could tolerate, I decided to select someone else’s eyes to see myself through. Not surprisingly, I chose my mentor’s eyes, since she somehow consistently manages in some miraculous way to turn a blind eye to my temporary foibles and failures and see a completely different me underneath all that.
And this me is classy and generous and kind and loving and whole and really worth knowing, and I like her very much – so much that I often really wish I actually was her.
So today I decided to look at myself through my mentor’s eyes, imagining myself walking towards my mentor and then putting myself in her shoes as she gazed back at me.
What she saw – or rather, what I saw when I was looking at me through her eyes – was very beautiful! She/I saw a big bright shining light, like a huge star but really close up instead of those fuzzy clumps I see when I look up at the night sky.
The star was a very fine yellow-white color and looking at it didn’t hurt my eyes (no solar eclipse glasses needed). It seemed friendly. Its light was quite benign – and everyone else my mentor looked at also looked like that – a big, bright yellow-white colored star.
It reminded me a lot of the Jewel lyrics where she sings, “be careful with each other, these fragile flames,” only these lights weren’t really flames, and they definitely weren’t fragile.
They were stars with brilliant, stable, strong, confident centers, with each one holding its place and no one trying to take more space than they needed or give up some of their space to someone more deserving.
The sense I got of it all was all very….balanced. Wise. Intuitive. Sensible.
Seeing myself as this bright star also eased the constant sense of hurt within me in a way that absolutely nothing else has been able to do….ever. Today, thus far, whenever the hurt I’ve been working on has bubbled back up, I have been able to remember to switch the set of eyes I’m using from my own to my mentor’s. And when I’ve done that, the hurt has bubbled back down again, leaving me feeling calm and at peace.
I hope what I’m sharing makes some sense. This is a real experiment for me, something born of not wanting to turn 47 in a few short months and still have made no progress in this particular area, and for that reason I’m still not totally sure exactly how to describe it to you here.
But since it seems to be working, even in such a loosely structured, not yet totally well understood form, I wanted to put it out there in case any of you, like me, are in a position of just not wanting to live one more day with a particular pain that nothing else seems to be able to ease.
Perhaps this will help you as it appears to be helping me. If you do try any of it and notice a positive difference, I’d love to hear your experiences!
Today’s Takeaway: This is, of course, just one of many possible approaches that could work to heal long-standing inner insecurities, aches, pains, feelings of being lesser-than or critical self-awareness. Do you have other approaches that seem to really work for you? Please do know I’d love to hear about them and probably lots of other readers would too! 🙂