I was asked this question the other day…
How do you embrace your wonderful gifted self in face of adversity- even from those that may be family?
While my journey with this is still a work in progress, I’d say there are three key things I’ve uncovered so far.
The pain of hiding me, of pretending I’m not ALL of who I am is much greater than the discomfort of feeling like an outsider. I pay a high price and sometimes those I love do as well when I try to make others happy at the cost of my authenticity. The reward for being me always out weighs the cost.
I have recent experience that illustrates this. We were invited to a party for my father- in- law for his 75th Birthday. We were expecting this to be family gathering and thus were quite surprised when Neighbors and members of their church began coming through the door. I’m a shy extrovert. My husband is a friendly introvert. This was uncomfortable as hell for me and his worst nightmare- a small, loud space with a lot of people.
The rest of his sibs eventually showed up, smiled and made small talk. My husband practiced self care and stepped outside quite a lot. At one point sitting with my in-laws, my father-in-law remarked about Dan’s absence to which my mother-in-law made a snarky comment.
What to do?
In the past I would have laughed it off to keep the peace while seething inside. This time was different. Ignoring the snark I said “Papa, you raised an introvert. ”
He said “Oh I know Dan is pretty shy.”
I pressed on. “Actually he’s not shy. I’m the shy one. On neighborhood walks Dan is the one waiving to passersby while I look down and avoid eye contact. Dan is actually a friendly introvert meaning he’s friendly to strangers but crowds of people are extremely hard for him. THIS is his worst nightmare AND he loves you enough to be here anyway. So in stepping out he’s just doing what he needs to take care of himself “
My heart was hammering my chest the entire time I spoke and I’m surprised I was able to be that articulate. There have been unspoken rules in place which I broke that day. Any snark gets chalked up to “Oh, that’s just how she is” and no clarification happens and a woman (the lesser sex) doesn’t contradict Papa.
Not long ago, I would have been seething by the time we left and that pent up, unexpressed part of me almost always wound up blowing up at Dan… the very person I was angry over being insulted…..
I’ve been finding ways to speak my truth. I’ve been learning that this doesn’t need to look like aggression or conflict but simply stating what IS for me. Last Thanksgiving we got together with my husband’s family for dinner. I found myself getting cranky as I was getting ready to head there. I realized my angst was coming from fear.
“What if I get asked to give a blessing on the food?”
This asking isn’t a private thing. The whole family circles up and then the chosen person is asked.
What would I say? It was a hellllllll no for me to at this point to give a prayer in the style of the religion I was once a part of. The peace came when I realized in that moment I didn’t need to. If asked I would simply say “I’d be happy to give a Shamanic prayer. If that’s not ok, I respectfully decline.”
Instantly my heart was filled with peace and gratitude and I got this beautiful download of an incredible prayer.
Sometimes being myself means stepping away or not stepping in.
It can be challenging being the one on the outside. And I know that is where I need to be at times.
Take my experience at a business networking event the other day. We were all going around sharing about our businesses- what we do, how we help people. When it came to a particular woman the experience became surreal. She wasn’t there for business. She didn’t have a business. She spent almost 20 minutes sobbing telling her life story.
It was a bit weird given the container for the meeting but more than that, I knew there was something not right in this situation. I was super triggered. I felt compassion but I also felt angry. I could see her feeding off the pity in the room. It was her drug of choice. I knew there was a payoff for the misery she was in and it was keeping her stuck. I asked my Guides why I was so triggered and if that meant my knowing was incorrect. I was told simply “Triggered doesn’t mean you aren’t seeing truth. You can look at the trigger later.”
In that moment I was one of the very few not rushing to her aid physically and energetically. I worried about looking like a compassion-less “witch” to those around me and yet I simply could not be part of the feeding frenzy. A part of me wanted to share what I saw going on. That part of me wanted to feel not judged and understood. That part of me wanted validation.
In that instance the knowing was for me. It was for her and everyone else there to have their own experience and me to have mine- no matter how lonely it felt. It was an opportunity to own what I knew (despite what others were doing) and to let my inner validation and the validation of my Guides be enough.
Be willing to own what’s yours and let people surprise you.
This has been the most challenging by far because Man! I can be stubborn. I want to hold on to what I knew about a person. There is a false sense of safety for me in knowing what to expect, even if it’s not fun. It’s also been a convenient out… a perfect excuse not to have the scary conversations. “She(He) wouldn’t listen to me anyway. It would be pointless.”
All that came to a screeching halt from an experience I had with my mother last Spring. I’d been deeply hurt by something that got back to me that she’d said. I decided to go against the family grain and actually go direct with her about it. Before doing so, I decided to journey on it.
I asked my Power Animal to show me what I needed to know about how I was being in this situation. What followed was quite a shock. My Power Animal showed me a giant boulder of Obsidian. It was raw and full of deadly sharp, spiked points. He said that was me. He then showed my birth family trying to approach the boulder. Being hard, sharp and unyielding my family was cut and hurt trying to get close. After that any approach involved wearing armor and protective gear.
He then said “This doesn’t have to be. This can also be you.” He then showed me a beautiful tree, fully leafed. Its roots were strong and deep. The trunk solid and strong yet bendy in the wind. He showed my family coming to the tree to sit in her shade and take respite from the heat. Some even climbed and played in her branches. She was a welcoming haven.
I could feel the truth in it and I had no idea how to feel safe and still BE the tree. Using a Shamanic process I asked to be taught and for the next 3 days I awaited a shift. At 3 am I woke up feeling immense love and compassion for my mother and I had the exact words to say to her. It was the most loving, gentle experience I’ve ever had “confronting” someone.
The really cool thing is that since then she and I have been more open with each other than I ever dreamed possible. When my walls went down so did hers and we have real two way exchanges. I’ve been telling her some things about Shamanism. She’s been sharing more things that are important to her. Six months ago I was determined that this would never be possible. And when I get determined…. what I think I create.
I’ve also found other places in my life that my revealing moments weren’t nearly as awful as I imagined them to be. When my intuitive gift opened up I was terrified to tell my husband. I was very involved in our religion and I was sure he’d think I was evil or going down a path to hell. After two weeks of agony I finally told him and his response was “Cool! I’m kinda jealous.” He then pulled out his scriptures and started reading to me about “the gifts of the Spirit.” He then said “Sounds like a spiritual gift to me. Nothing evil there.”
In both cases I assumed I knew the person so well that I knew how they’d react. I grow. I evolve. I shift. I’ve learned to hold possibility for others to do so as well.
So dear friend I hope this gives you some things to ponder and place to start.