Almost a decade ago, I got the first conscious glimpse of my core wounding “Not Welcome, Not Wanted, Not Important”. I was at Harbin Hot Springs in CA shortly after my very first HAI Level 3 program. I was hanging out with some of the other participants from HAI and we were getting a seriously cold response from the residents at Harbin. We were too happy, too loud, too much for them. Three of us went into the 4-person sauna and were talking.
One of the residents stuck her head in and huffily asked how long we were going to be. We told her we were going to be a while but said she was welcome to join us. She declined. We continued our conversation. About 5 minutes later she asked again how long we were going to be. We gave her the same answer and again invited her to join us. This time she did, but she spent the entire time bitching about how much she hated when HAI had workshops there and how disruptive she found us. She filled the sauna with negativity until we left.
I had been through a challenging weekend and there had been a lot of tears. That evening, I had tried to get a single room, but only the dorm was available. So, in an effort to be kind to the others in the room (I snore when I’ve been crying), I took the only bunk of the first floor, next to the door – something I would usually not do since it feels unsafe to me to have people coming and going by my bed as I sleep.
A few hours into my sleep cycle, a woman comes and shakes me awake (no, it was not the same woman). She tells me I’m snoring. I apologize and offer her extra earplugs that I have. She declines. I get up, drink some water, blow my nose, and stay awake for about 10 minutes, trying to let her get to sleep before I go back to sleeping and snoring again. Some time later, she wakes me again and tells me that I’m going to have to find somewhere else to be because my snoring is too loud. At this point I snapped. I told her that I had tried to get a single and that there weren’t any and that she chose to be in a communal sleeping area and therefore needed to deal with that. I offered her the ear plugs again – she declined again. Then I told her that if she touched me again, I’d break her hand and I rolled over and went back to sleep. She didn’t wake me again.
The next morning, I went to breakfast and sat with some of the HAI people. We were laughing and enjoying ourselves and getting dirty looks from the residents (no, this isn’t a silent retreat center, this was just what the universe was handing me). The others left just as I was getting my food so I was left alone with the reproaching stares and I started to get in touch with how I was feeling – thoroughly unwelcome. And I thought to myself, “I have never felt so unwelcome in my entire life… “and then that thought was immediately replaced with the thought that “no, I have felt EXACTLY this unwelcome my entire life” and I started to cry into my oatmeal. I looked up at the universe and said “I get it, you can stop now”.
I cleaned up from breakfast and went into the silent meditation pool to release the emotions I had found swirling inside of me. While I was letting the tears out, a man I didn’t know came over and offered to float me while I did my work. It was a beautiful offer and I accepted, allowing him to hold me in my pain.
Over the years I have done a lot of work around these issues. Another round came when my mother died and I was left to grieve alone. Another part of that story coming up in relation to the mother who was never really capable of showing her love for me in ways I could receive. Each time I do work on it, it gets a bit better.
And this month I’m doing another layer. I posted a couple of days ago on Facebook about that part of the journey. And then my friend Trish called me and we had coffee and processed some more. So today I am sitting with some of the revelations from that conversation.
I realized that I still have that wounding from being the new kid in town all the time because we moved every year or two. To make it worse, I was the kid whose mom dressed her in boys clothes because they were cheaper and whose coke-bottle glasses obscured her face. I didn’t know how to look nice because my mother never learned so she couldn’t teach me. And I was smart – too smart to be one of the cool kids and too eager to please, so I became the class brown-noser, always trying to be perfect so I could earn the love I so craved in life. And so I was not welcome in the world of kid-dom.
And this has felt like the case for much of my life. When I try to contribute to a group, I feel like no one listens unless I step up and take charge and then it often takes too much of my energy. And so I have retreated over the years from community-based groups because instinctively, if not consciously, I knew I was doing it wrong, but I didn’t know how to do it differently.
And so today, I’m sitting with how to do it differently. I’ve recognized the controlling energy that comes forth when I engage my yearning to belong. I have it tied up in a corner of my mind, watching it like a hawk to keep it from taking me over. I am having a meeting this morning with a friend to talk about how we want to design the classes that we will run cooperatively over the year to come. This is the perfect time to do this work. I’m going to let her in on this so that she can help me keep this as a conscious process as we work together. Wish me luck.