As I worked through my day yesterday, I was looking to foster confidence in my life. This would take courage, especially to do it soberly. I began drinking when I was 12. It was to be the first of many years absorbed in my fear of not “fitting in”. Already, at this tender age, I belonged nowhere and everywhere. Never in my deepest thoughts did I think I would be coming back to actually cultivating this true sense of belonging. Nowhere and everywhere. I shuffled my way between friends—trying to hang with the cool ones while embracing the uniqueness of the odd ones. I was confused to no end of where I actually fit in. The drinkers, the stoners and the thinkers, all intrigued me. Very often I would find myself stuck between the morals of my faith and the freedom of my thoughts. For the most part, my thinking process won. I became rebellious and conflicted. But I never had much confidence in either. Thus the drugs and alcohol. 

Now, at age 60, I find myself exploring the possibility of getting to know my uncertainties while embracing courage and confidence. Accepting that uncertainty is a part of being human and that it is okay is a difficult process. I am learning that despite uncertainty one can become confident and strong in certain beliefs. Kindness, curiosity, compassion and courage can all be absorbed with certainty. I am positive these qualities are truth. They are a part of who I aspire to be despite the difficulties these beliefs present. The contradictions of a restraining religious order, the confusion in my mind of lost children and the rebellion of a feisty 12 year old all conspire to belittle my faith in my values despite the fact that I believe in their certainty. 

Paradoxes. Life is full of them. Truths become lies and lies become truths; certainties become uncertainties while uncertainties evolve into certainties. Everything becomes misconstrued and onerous, and confusion ensues, wreaking havoc on a tender mind—an unsuspecting 12 year old mind. Only to resurface at 60, when I begin to re-evaluate my life and where I’ve been and where I want to go. That tween is still with me; I haven’t been able to befriend her, but I need to as she still unsettles my perceptions and my actions. She continues to hold a place in my heart that I need to embrace. Her confusion is real, her skepticism irrefutable and her feisty conviction to protect others palpable. But where is her fervor for the protection of her own soul? That she leaves to drugs and alcohol and reality becomes tainted. Connection and the courage to stand up for her own truth become belittled and non-existent. Unworthiness is sustained. 

Finding this life form within me forces my own reality, at 60, to come into question and curiosity permeates my being. Non-judgmental, open-minded awareness begins to see this part of me as an ally within my truth. I begin to show her compassion and give her a voice. And I listen. Her voice is here. She has spoken her truth. I accept and respect it. But do I need the defenses that come up in response to her trepidation? The silencing, avoiding and isolation that comes to protect her fear is no longer necessary. I can take care of my needs now. I’m braver and wiser than I was when I was 12. I need to let her know that I’m okay, that we’re okay!

Sometimes these genuine parts show up in our lives that are trying to save us from something that once threatened us but is no longer there. We’ve moved on, learned lessons and put strategies into play that make our need for these defenses fruitless. They only serve to destroy our relationships, interrupt our growth and keep us hidden from our true selves. Grasping them with compassion and giving them space to see our intentions and growth allows us to let go of the defenses that once served us well.

My desire and need to be confident and courageous is threatened by this part and the reactions it solicits. Embracing that fearful child takes away the power of her fear. It frees me. Embracing your ‘exiles’ (IFS) releases their power. Trying to ignore them increases their power and they will continue to shadow your reactions, choices and decisions. Just wondering if anyone else out there struggles with the past bumping into their future, resulting in broken relationships, the sense of not being enough and the fear of being themselves?

peace balance empathy

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