[Personal sharing. Wearing my heart on my sleeve.]
I had a dream the other night that I had a really present, loving, fun father who spent lots of time with me. In the dream I was a teenager, at that transition between little girl and woman. I both loved him and appreciated his presence so deeply, in the way you appreciate someone when you know they helped make you the happy, resilient person you are.
In real life, this never happened.
In the dream I knew all the benefit of that relationship in terms of my sense of self: my self-love, my security, my confidence. ALL of that was embodied in my dream self… and when I woke up and realized that it wasn’t real, that I was still the one who didn’t have that, I cried.
I might mention that I am 46, in a wonderful relationship, with great kids, and I don’t think there is anyone who’d look at my life now and see that lack, that pain. Yet, it’s there. It doesn’t run my life, but it’s there.
That’s why I wanted to share this vulnerable moment with you, because I often say, “You can be at pain, and still be at peace.” But what does that LOOK like in real life?
Well, here’s what it looks like in MY life!
Healing is not about never feeling the feelings again, it’s being able to tap into the peace that is already there, even when you have those feelings.
This may be controversial, because we do live in a ‘pill for a pain’ culture, and we want to ‘find the cure.’ I wrote in another blog about how that plays out in therapy (when it is possibly not working for you).
It’s important for you to know that some things you don’t get over – but it doesn’t mean you can’t be at peace.
I mean, let’s be honest here, trauma in any form changes you at the level of the body, the mind, the spirit. In terms of the brain and nervous system, it’s huge. So we mustn’t underestimate it, sweep it under the carpet, or try to pretend it’s all right when it is definitely NOT all right!
Nor is it healthy (at the other end of the spectrum) to allow it to create a story of your own lack or limitation, or a story of how the world and people are out to get you or can never understand you or all have it better than you … and then let that narrative drive your life (a.k.a. Victim Consciousness).
Healing is the middle ground. It’s holding onto the and. There is pain AND there is peace.
Dreams can be so poignant, so emotional, and so revealing, and my dream and what happened after (realizations!) says a lot about how I, personally, hold onto the ‘and.’
Here’s how that morning played out for me:
I sat with my sadness, and cried a bit. My partner was like, “Oh dear, you poor thing,” as this grown woman cried about missing a dream-father, about longing for a dream life.
Then I journaled about what I felt, and what it was showing me that was positive about my life now.
On one level, this dream triggered a waking recognition that the wound is just still IN me (the wound of abandonment, loss, grief). That’s when I think, Hello dear friend, we meet again!
Yet, in the dream, I was self-confident, self-loving, strong, and full-hearted. All those qualities that I did NOT have as a child in my waking life, I WAS in my dream. That means I AM that – albeit in this case, in this other dimension. It means that I have the CAPACITY to BE that.
That I experienced my self in this way so tangibly in the dream showed me that I have created through my life and self work a real and impactful inner father.
It showed me that I have shown myself the love and care I didn’t receive in real life, and I have shown myself this love and presence so much so that in my dream I actually KNEW my worth, my value in a way that I only could have known had I actually had that.
So then, I sat in gratitude. I experienced with this realization the peace that I am, just as I had in my dream.
What does it mean to create an ‘inner father’ or inner anyone for that matter? Well, first, it’s about recognizing that we all have core needs that often were not met by our caregivers (I can hear you friends – “tell me about it Michelle OMFG”). Then it’s about meeting them ourselves.
We CAN learn to meet those needs, to ‘re-parent’ ourselves – and that’s a huge subject and something I do in my programs/client work, but in short, it’s finding the gaps, and meeting them in your own unique ways.
For myself, I have found ways to meet my inner wounded child, and for me, uniquely for me, these ways have included sitting with her sadness, writing to her, talking to her, and taking some physical risks that I imagine I would have done with an active dad (trying to skateboard, etc.).
The result, I am at peace. I see the proof in my healthy adult relationship (which is NOT like my previous wounded relationships which were emotionally abusive and basically played out my early childhood dynamic).
I can see the proof in my dream self. I can see the proof in that I am able to share this with you!
Some pain just doesn’t go away, but what changes is how you relate to it. Relating to it differently includes the opportunity to show yourself endless compassion, to return to peace, and to embrace wisdom.
And then, of course, through your compassion and wisdom and peace, you can be a light unto others.
My 6 Step Roadmap to Holistic Healing.
You can learn how to create a powerful emotional healing journey in my free 6 Step Roadmap to Holistic Healing (which includes a full appendix of common trauma symptoms and an explanation).