I remember feeling plagued with self doubt at the very beginning of launching my private coaching practice. I kept asking myself: “Am I ready?” Which also translated, through the lens of my Ego, into: “Am I worthy?” Which was another way of asking: “Who am I to coach other people when I haven’t yet reached the level of perfection they’ll be looking for directions to?”
But you know what? People aren’t actually hungry for perfection.
They’re hungry for love and understanding. They’re hungry for attunement. They’re hungry to be deeply listened to. They’re hungry to be received SAFELY, without judgment. They’re hungry for resonance and compassion. They’re hungry to be seen and accepted and wanted and heard.
So many of our relationships are anemic in these departments.
Being this kind of coach comes ultra naturally to me. Because I know that kind of hunger very well. And my offerings to my clients feed me too. It’s why I feel so ridiculously fortunate to do this work for a living.
There’s an old paradigm that says: first become the expert, then you’ll be qualified to share what you know as an authority.
But in truth, we don’t need to be experts. We just need to gain experience with what we love. And the process of gaining experience with what we love is a lifelong one. It’s a zen riddle. A race with no finish point. A horizon line we never actually reach.
Authentically happy people have figured this out. They know it’s the journey that counts.
The saying that teachers teach what they most need to learn has proven true for me. My work with other Souls informs the healing my own Soul is undertaking on a regular basis.
Some of the prickliest topics for me are narcissistic abuse and high conflict divorce. These are two areas I feel the most educated and confident speaking about and they’re also the subjects I tend to resist the hardest. Because every time I work with a client who is dealing with either (or both) in their life, I revisit the places in my body and my psyche where the residue of my own personal experiences is still alive, like mold in the far corners of a fruit drawer.
My high conflict divorce began around the same time Gwyneth Paltrow’s ‘conscious uncoupling’ process was taking place in her own marriage - and in the #selfcare sections of pretty much every online and print lifestyle magazine out there.
My wound quickly glommed onto this widely publicized, highly idealized style of splitting up. The concept of reliving the grizzly divorce of my own childhood and imposing it on my children felt both inevitable and like something to be avoided at every possible cost. My fear of this was the main reason I had stayed so long in a bad marriage.
The notion of peacefully, thoughtfully snipping ties with my ex made my heart sing. I got swept up in the fantasy of it. To the point where I allowed myself to enter mediation and subjected myself, over and over again, to extremely expensive meetings where reasonable ideas were vulnerably laid on tables for thoughtful consideration and then fed, one after another, to the metaphorical paper shredder between us, like bad jokes in a writer’s room.
No one classified my divorce as high conflict. No one used the words “abuse” or “narcissist”. I was in a story with no context trying to understand why nothing made the slightest bit of sense. I wanted uncoupling. I wanted a delicate unwinding of a tangled up life. I wanted to be set free gently, like an animal in a catch and release trap. I wanted to be returned to the wild.
I wanted things that feel obscene as I write them now. And I mourn for that naive part of me who showed up with her wishes in hand as though she actually had a chance of having them heard and granted. I mourn for the energy she spent reinforcing the stories of what he did and how wrong he was, letting years pass in passive, victim mode, unwilling to look at her own part. Unwilling to look beyond the wound in him to see the one she carried within herself, the one that pulled her into alignment with the relationship in the first place, like a perfect match for a bone marrow transplant.
When a situation is inherently irrational, it doesn’t matter how much rational, reasonable thoughtfulness you throw at it. You are just raising an umbrella against a tsunami. No one pulled me out of the ring during my divorce and insisted I wake up and reckon with the difference between what I wanted vs what was actually possible inside the parameters of my situation. They were profiting too much by keeping me in there and stoking the embers of my ancient, undying hope. The hope for a different outcome. The hope for spring to bloom in the dead of winter. The hope for someone who had been behaving egregiously from the get-go to suddenly change.
Our hopes are illogical. That’s what makes them so precious and powerful and worthy of protection. That’s also what makes them so dangerous, in certain circumstances.
It’s hope that keeps us parked in front of a brick wall at the end of a dead end street, waiting for it to somehow crumble or magically open. It’s hope that interferes with our deeper knowing. It’s hope that gets us to override our intuition. And our hopes are often connected to a very, very young part of us. The part of us that longs for a happy ending. The part of us that can’t bear to call a spade a spade, turn the page, let a broken thing finally break.
We need our hopes but we need our realities affirmed too. We need to understand not only our stories but their contexts as well. We need clean mirrors. Not the fogged up, funhouse kind. We need our hearts reflected back to us. With clarity and also with kindness. We need permission to challenge our own narratives.
When we live through experiences which contain a lot of heavy gaslighting, it’s not uncommon that we internalize the pain and use the same tactics, unconsciously, against ourselves. Meaning: when we’ve been talked out of our feelings and our truths by other people, we are likely to start talking to ourselves this way too.
So much is outside of our control in this life. But the way we regard ourselves is not. The way we talk to ourselves is not. The boundaries we place about what we will/will not accept from other people are not. And that’s always felt deeply inspiring and empowering to me.
Enlightenment means turning the lights on in our own heart and mind. It means becoming wise to the thoughts we’re thinking instead of just sitting in the audience, allowing them to craft the story of who we are, where we’re going, what’s possible.
The themes you feel the most resistance around are probably the ones where your gold is buried. We resist the stuff we secretly fear will overpower us. But we forget (or we’ve never learned in the first place) how powerful we are.
The process of showing up and working the edges is how we grow into the people we came here to be. There is no achievement we have to reach that will precede a successful life. A successful life is achieved moment by moment as we work through the resistance and continue to step in more fully, to our healing and our destiny.
Once upon a time the shoes seemed way too big. We chose a smaller size. But then one day, all of a sudden, we find: they fit.
Sending support for your healing and warm wishes,