When I was in the midst of a tortuous relationship, my body was the only way out of the cycle I found myself in.
While living in a 500-year old stone house in Provence, France, I spent my days trying to recoup the energy I lost the night before – in yet another “altercation.” I never knew what mood my husband would be in when he arrived home. Happy? Upset? Stressed?
If anything triggered his deeply held belief he wasn’t “good enough,” he took it out on me.
“You would know how to do it,” he would yell. “You’d get it done faster.”
It was not a compliment. He meant it as an attack. My intelligence made him feel inferior, so I was supposed to spend the next 20 minutes assuring him how good he was. Or pretending he was wrong about me. “No, I’m not that smart.” “I wouldn’t be able to do it either.” Neither of which were true. I knew it was a skill of mine. Yet, I feared admitting it.
It sounds counterintuitive when our culture encourages us to list our strengths and avoid our weaknesses. But I wanted him to accept me. To love me. To want to be with me.
If I threatened him, by doing something he could not, I was his enemy. His goal was to attack me by undermining my strengths. In so doing, he could avoid his own feelings of inadequacy.
I wanted him to feel good about himself. If I upset him – by being “too good,” as he liked to say – it made sense to assure him of my flaws. If he felt bad, it was my fault. What could I say or do to make it better?
I took on full responsibility for his feelings. They took priority. My life depended on it. At least, that’s how it seemed. If he was upset, my nervous system automatically jumped in and screamed, “Watch out! Danger ahead!”
Back off. Be quiet. Stay small. Don’t do anything to be seen. Not now. Not ever.
My brain fired, “The smaller you are, the safer you are.”
Staying small and curling inward worked most of my life. When taunted at school, I simply hung my head. No use in fighting back. No need to defend myself. It would only bring more attention and more harm.
I kept walking. I kept accepting every word thrown at me. When another person engulfed me with their judgment or criticism, I silently agreed. “They must be right about me.” “I’m not good enough.” “I’ve done something wrong.”
“How do I fix it?” became a constant question. “How do I make myself better?”
If I complied with their requests to be different than I was, or agree with them, or feel how they wanted me to feel, then there would be no problem. It laid the foundation for their acceptance of me. If they were happy, I was happy. My heart yearned for others to feel good, in part so that I could feel good. My peace depended on their own because the boundary between me and them was blurred.
I felt guilty standing on my own two feet separate from the other. They subsumed me. I made it all about them and forgot my Self. I put their needs, their wishes, their happiness above my own. In other words, I lost myself since I deemed them better than me. More worthy. More deserving.
Because I loved them so much, I wanted them to be happy. I wanted them to feel good. I wanted them to know they were loved.
Instead of allowing myself to overflow with love – love that first came through me – I gave it away.
It depleted me. It exhausted me. I’d forgotten my own need for love. My own desire to be heard. It’s been a lifetime struggle to deem myself just as worthy as the other.
When the “episodes” between my partner and I turned into nightly occurrences, I knew I had to build my own reservoir. All of my energy was directed toward him, and I was drained beyond belief. It felt like I was going crazy.
While he was at work, I laid on my yoga mat for hours. Slow movement, coupled with breath and stillness, helped me drop into my own skin. I felt my own feelings, which were separate from what he wanted me to feel. The desires I’d kept bottled inside began to erupt to the surface. The rage, the anger, the grief, it all began to show itself.
There’s so much more I could say about this. For now, suffice it to say that going into my body helped me go into my Self.
I heard me. I saw me. And I ultimately saved me from complete suffocation.
My upcoming online course, Reclaim Your Body as Holy, is a deep outpouring from my heart. It is years of self-study, exploration and initiation synthesized into 5 weeks that will bring you home to your Self. Click here for more information.
This Thursday, I’ll be talking about why it’s necessary to focus first on the body during any healing process on Facebook Live. In the meantime, drop me a line at email@example.com or post your comments below. What does this bring up for you? How do you communicate with your body? Do you recognize it as the barometer of your truth?
© Jessica Falcon 2020.