Something interesting happened to me today. It’s taken me a while to accept what A says about the fact that I’ve fragmented my life. And that at some point, to truly heal, I have to take those memories and feelings I’ve relegated to different versions of me and put them together as a whole unit.
I think of my life in four separate time blocks. Child me, teenage me, adult MO me, and current me. And working with A has really allowed me to realize that this is how I operate and that this is how I have always operated. When things are too much I relegate it to history as if it happened to someone else. I even talk about it as if “past PD” is a different person than current PD.
Today, my boss (and good friend) essentially chastised me (privately and through Skype so not even in person) for being on my phone at my desk while I’m trying so hard to get my employees to get the message that being on their phone at work isn’t productive.
He had every right to say it. It wasn’t delivered in an angry way or with malice but more “do you think your actions support the message?” And was more of a teaching moment… And yet it came with this incredible reaction. Of me feeling horrible and angry and awful and not good enough and like I’m the worst.
So I paused. I thanked him for the accurate feedback and said I understood and I spent some time being mad. At something. Me, I think. But then I realized I was having this huge reaction to something relatively minor. I realized the reaction was not matched to the incident. So I took a walk and sat with my thoughts and went “ok self. You’re upset. Why. You know he is right. He didn’t cross a line in his delivery. And yet you feel bad and ashamed and not good enough. These are old feelings. Where do they come from? It’s okay that they’re coming, they probably make sense, but they don’t match this situation.”
I was able to work through it a bit. I realized that I felt like I had let my boss down because I wasn’t perfect. The shame was coming from having made a mistake and being called out on it because mistakes are not allowed (an old belief) and I am better than mistakes (another old belief) and if I am not perfect I will not be cared for (again an old belief, an older one though) and that I don’t deserve his friendship or my job and I would be better off isolating from everyone.
So I talked to myself. Maybe young me or teen me – there was a part of me that was so upset over this interaction. I sat down in our work hammock room and was like “ok, this is how you feel. And that’s totally valid. Because any little mistake before led to these feelings. But you’re here to learn and grow and be self aware. You’re in a supported environment. It is a good thing that these things come up in a communicative and supportive way. You aren’t bad, you made a mistake, and mistakes are seen as a sign of personal growth in this environment. You’re going to be okay.” And acknowledging it and having that conversation had such a unique effect.
Normally that incident would derail my whole day. But because I’m opening up to this idea that I have old rooted feelings I’ve tried to separate into past chunks (I picture the security gates in the Titanic to prevent it from sinking) I was able to identify where the feelings come from and that they were not of the present moment but also able to talk myself through them.
It’s still a foreign concept to me, the image of myself as different PD’s and my inability to connect events together, and the idea of using the imagery of little PD with A as comforting – it’s foreign and kind of difficult and at times uncomfortable to acknowledge the work that lies ahead – but it is working and I’m warming to this idea that I can work through what comes up simply by tuning into myself and my feelings. That by just acknowledging them and hearing and attuning to myself I can assist myself in staying present and calm.