But sales pitch and Randi fangirling aside, part of what i learned was about inner boundaries. The boundaries i have with myself that support me to live a life that feels better to inhabit. The boundaries that support the change i am aiming for. The boundaries that remind me "not that way anymore, this way now."
These are some of the hardest boundaries to hold because they turn me towards the coping strategies that have saved me. Ok, so some of those coping strategies come with their own shit-ton of problems but they were the best i could do at the time. They were the patterns i learned to try and keep myself safe, win connection, figure shit out in this wonky world.
One of those patterns is people pleasing. I was an a grade, well trained footsoldier in the army of nice. I tried my best to ensure that everyone thought i was nice, that everything i did was nice and that the nicest thing about me was that i was nice.
Notice a theme?
This pattern had me swallow my truth, behave very inauthentically and subsequently very unnice things happened. My anger leaked out in passive aggressive ways. I couldn't trust myself so i self sabotaged, i didn't back myself and i felt, as a direct result, lonely, confused, hurt and disgusted with myself.
I also felt ripped off. I mean, here i was trying, as if my life depended on it, to be nice and people walked all over me. i was a screen for projection (unsurprisingly because i was absent from the picture and was just a facade of niceness). I was able to be an object of scorn because i wasn't treating myself with any respect. I was failing to turn up in ways that mattered to the outside world so i wasn't considered valuable. I was sacrificing myself left and right because that's the deal right? If i sacrifice, you will like me - isn't that the deal?
I would spend hours re-running interactions, imagining triumphant speeches, people seeing the error of their ways when they were mean. To no avail. It was familiar - i knew how to do it, it was a well worn deep groove of a pathway i didn't even have to think about. If i was doing it, at least i was doing something, and that somehow had to count as nice, even though it hurt and it was fruitless. Right??
I can see, through the Somatic Experiencing lense, that this was me trying to build connection, the very necessary-to-human-mammals part of the sense of safety. "If you like me, i belong, if i belong i am safe with you" is the best way to sum it up. It was my attempt at building that safety, that connection.
Trouble is it wasn't working and in undoing the pattern of trying to make people like me, i had to suspend myself outside the old ways until something new was strong enough for me to rely on.
I don't remember a particular time when i realised i couldn't keep being nice, perhaps a watershed moment was when i decided to stop doing things that made me resentful. Seemed innocuous, but man, did it turn things on their arse...
I won't lie, it wasn't always pretty. I made a lot of mistakes - clumsy and not deliberately mean, i didn't always get the new way of turning up right. I had to, as i changed shape, step out of situations i could no longer fit. It was tough.
But one of the hardest patterns to break has been the midnight ruminations. The running 200 different how to fix this scenarios while in the shower. Losing 20 minutes of walking the dog to, well as my photo says, fondling the shit. Some of the shit was mine but very often the shit was the stuff i was facing was the way i had been treated.
The more i cleaned up my end of the relationship, the more vehement the projection, the snideness and judgement, the more rapid the triangulation. I spent hours running through it like a crime scene detective combing for clues about how i could do it better.
And the truth is i was often just fondling their shit.
My hands got covered in kaka. No one but me and the people i loved could smell the stink. I ended up sitting in it and alas not in a "it all becomes compost" kind of a way.
So my instruction, my boundary with myself is "stop fondling their shit." and you know, it's coming up roses.