martha dawson

errant inspiration

the extraordinary lives in the ordinary

the powerful teachings of a 14 year old

Becoming whole is wonderful work.
It is the only work.
It is soulwork.

My 14 year old self arrived howling at the top of her lungs. Her rage bounced off the walls of my bathroom as I sat in the tub. She trusts no one. She is tired of being ignored, abused, and betrayed……and she refuses to be silent anymore. She wishes that all the people who hurt her were dead.

She is a force to be reckoned with, and I admit, I am in awe of her.

Over the past few months I have been engaged in consciously reintegrating the wounded and abandoned parts of myself. I have been inviting them to speak to me with the promise that I will listen no matter what they have to share. Interacting with my youngest aspects was bittersweet. I wept for the pain and confusion they felt, but was delighted that they still exhibited the sweet innocence and playfulness of early childhood and welcomed my loving embrace and reassurances that they were now safe.

The 14 year old is having no part of that. She has demands. She insists that the truth be laid bare. She wants people to see all of her.  

These are some things that people know about her:

    • She has a pet skunk named Alexander who loves her best.
    • She is a ravenous reader and read The Chronicles of Narnia while sitting in a tree in Bermuda.
    • She is a student at an experimental alternative school called The Bent Twig.
    • She has an 18 year old boyfriend and has attended the senior prom which she found to be an overrated experience.
    • She loves vintage things. She has been known to wear 1950’s pegged flannel skirts and angora sweaters to school, watches movies from the the 30’s and 40’s on Saturday afternoons, and one of her prized possessions is a small album of antique photographs. She is fascinated by the faces and wonders about their lives and  feelings.
    • She became the first female acolyte (think altar boy) at her church. (One of many rules she busted in 1972!)
    • She is the only junior high student permitted to work on the high school’s production of Once Upon a Mattress. (I find it ironic that as an empathic teenager my first foray into the theatre arts was The Princess and the Pea story, a tale about extreme sensitivity!)
    • She wants to be an artist and has been placed in a high school art class. Her first project is to create a papier mache marionette, and she has chosen to make an owl. (I now know that owl is one of my totem animals!)
    • She spends a lot of time by herself, loves it for the most part, but is lonely sometimes.
    • She taught herself to make bread and enchiladas from a old Betty Crocker Cookbook.
    • People tell her she is smart, creative, and mature.
    • For some unknown reason, she knows exactly what to say to make people feel better.

And here are some of her hidden truths:

    • She has been sexually and emotionally abused for 10 years.
    • She is the inappropriate confidant of her mother. She is told things she has no way of coping with, but feels required to fix.
    • She is not permitted to express anger, frustration, rage, envy, resentment, or hate.
    • She has no privacy and no boundaries. She feels unsafe.
    • She over-gives until she is utterly exhausted and has a migraine practically everyday by 3 pm.
    • She cries every time she hears the song, Morning Has Broken, and is regularly chastised for being too sensitive.
    • She prefers to learn new things on her own and not in front of other people because she is terrified of making a mistake of any kind.
    • She feels everyone’s needs and emotions intensely, but rarely her own.
    • Self-loathing is her constant companion and she drives herself to excel at whatever she touches in an attempt to heal her sense of worthlessness.
    • She finds it difficult and dangerous to receive.
    • She feels like an outsider and is socially awkward.

You can see why she’s pissed off, but quite honestly I thought I had healed most of these issues in therapy years ago. So why is she still so enraged?

Because the journey of expanding awareness is an ever unfolding process, and she is alerting me to the fact that I am ready for the deeper teachings and healing of my earlier suffering and to free myself from another layer of limiting beliefs that continue to influence my present life.

Yes, I had done extremely significant work in therapy, and it’s the reason I am still here, but the journey is ongoing, and this time I welcome it with less fear and a great sense of curiosity. I want her to show me the dark, festering parts of my being of which she has been the unwilling steward because I am ready to acknowledge the pain and love that wounded part of myself.

She had the courage to survive,
so that I can have the courage to thrive.

Here is what she has come to teach me:

    • Real Love is not earned.
    • Worthiness is not earned.
    • It’s more than OK to take care of myself well.
    • ALL  emotions can be healthily expressed.
    • It’s my job to be the real me.

And most importantly:

    • Nothing of value requires the betrayal of Self.

She is a very good teacher.

I am now a willing student.

And we are already making progress together.

In loving her:

    • My inner critic has become quieter.
    • I am in better contact with my intuition.
    • My time scarcity issues have lessened.
    • I have a better sense of what I want and need.
    • She warns me when I even think of betraying myself.
    • I am more responsive to the beauty that surrounds me.
    • Art is resurfacing in my life.
    • It has become a little easier to keep my Soul at the center of my being.

She is looking for signs that she can trust me. The first opportunity came just two days after her arrival when two dear friends came to visit. I was unsure of what her behaviour might be with other people, and I had lost the ability and most of my desire to contain her. I explained to my friends what was going on and their response startled me. “Please don’t hide her. She is more than welcome to sit at the table.”

I felt an instant sense of release and calm and the visit goes well.

My acknowledging her just as she is to others and their acceptance of her was transforming.

Now she gets to express all those emotions she was forced to swallow. I listen and ask questions, and we release the shame, rage, and hatred together piece by piece by loving it. I like her. She has chutzpah and she knows how to use it!

So you can see, the younger versions of ourselves can make great partners in our journey to wholeness. They have laid the foundation for who we are and who we are becoming, and they want to be loved and accepted so that they don’t have to live alone in the dark any more. Self-knowledge and self-love are powerful tools.

This is my own personal process of integration. Each of us needs to approach it in a manner that supports our needs and circumstances. Thankfully, there are many ways available to us such as psychotherapy, soulwork, shamanic journeying, energy work, journaling, or partnering with trusted friends to name a few. You don’t have to do it alone.

I send you love as you journey towards oneness.

Many blessings,

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