Last Sunday in a powerful session with GD, I discovered where my fear of holding myself back from giving my all comes from. I always had a sense that I need to hold myself back. That I was never really willing to give my all – my 100% – to something – whether it be a task or a relationship or a person. I always wanted to protect myself from something. What I never understood.
I had asked GD why we try to belong to a group. It came from my recent experiences of trying to belong to a group as well as a simultaneous urge to rebel against the people in that group. It had become a pattern and I was noticing it. I could see that I am striving for something, seeking something. This itself was a clue that there was a personal agenda at work. To the best of my discernment I arrived at this – the need to belong.
As the session unfolded, the group discussed various aspects of belonging. What are we really trying to do when we say belonging? When do we say we belong to a group? Or to a person? Following a group’s agenda? Spoken/unspoken rules of conduct?
For me what emerged was when I say I belong to someone, it feels intuitively like a kind of stickiness, a gum. I feel stuck to a person’s ideals, thoughts, etc. and feel like a compulsion to be tuned into that person all the time.
The more I explored this feeling, the more I realised my state of mind reflected in the word itself: be-longing. Continue to long, continue to seek, continue to define. And that is when I hit the core – the need to be longing, where it all started.
Post-teens my rebellion broke out. One day, when my parents caught me red-handed doing something which went very against their tradition/value system, it broke my father’s heart. In anger and grief he shouted at me saying, “Just leave our family! We don’t want you here. You are not ‘ours’!” It released a wound that was created a long time back. The pain of feeling left out, alien. The pain that regardless how much I love someone, he/she will reject me anyways. This wound held me back from giving my all. Or atleast feeling complete involvement when I truly gave of myself. Going deeper, I regressed to that time in my family with a group of relatives who were praising my older cousin for something she had done. She was clever. I was the dumb one. She had answered questions smartly. I had no clue what they were talking about. She loved attention. I didn’t know what attention meant until that point. That moment something happened though. My focus fell outside. Associations formed, mind maps of attachments created, disconnect happened. I felt alone. And anguished. Then on I took on the craving for attention, the need for smartness, the need to know it all. Subsequently, I lapped up general knowledge books, entered and won competitions, became densely lodged in an I-me-myself loop and craved attention. I longed to belong.
Taking my inner child back to that moment, re-living that moment, a lot of pieces fell into place. That natural me was not attention-deficit. I did not have such a great void in me. I did not have any void in me in fact. This whole idea of being left out was false because it was my focus that fell out. I could restore my focus. And with this understanding, I just re-scripted that – only this time when the focus was about to leave me, I showed myself a mirror. In this mirror, suddenly I could see how beautiful I was. How nonchalant of all that was happening around me. It was nothing personal after all. It was okay to not have an opinion on everything that went on around me. So much of emotional charge got dissipated. I could see each one playing a role for the other. The whole need to hold on to this grief was gone. I saw myself walk out of that room of strangers without longing. I could even smile at my uncle as I left the room.
As I progressed to that moment of my father’s yelling, I could see his own trauma with his family. Being a musician, he was the odd one out in about 12 siblings. In his eyes I could see he felt more of an outsider than anyone else. Imagine being born with so much music inside of you (he has a LOT of it) with no one to comprehend it or even have the time. For a family who was stuck in survival mode and had a tough time trying to make ends meet, music seemed to be on another planet. He had persisted and at one point, he chose music instead of being with his family. The unspoken emotion seemed to have found its way in me, since we inherit emotions across generations. I was his mirror in that moment of transgression. I imagined looking into his eyes, the anger softened – both in him and me. In that moment of seeing where he came from, unforgiveness dropped. The understanding that excluding me was not his intention, to release his own wound was. Another awareness – people do love me. I just don’t see it yet.
In deeper introspection a lot of other dots connected. A year ago I attached myself to someone out of my need of a father figure who could be the sounding board for the emotional intricacies I experienced that felt unrequited with my dad. It seemed this man was so perfect. He was everything I longed for my dad to be – intellectual, smart, worldly wise, in control of everything, calm, collected, even highly educated. What I longed in my dad, honestly was a lack in me. I longed to be all of this. This man completed me so well, I felt. Not surprisingly, I felt the same unrequitedness with him as I had felt on some level with my dad. Slowly and steadily this excitement of finding ‘the one’ transmuted itself into frustrations of experiencing this childhood trauma of longing. It became too much for me to handle and slowly, after a lot of healing sessions, the emotional attachment diluted. I asked myself the tough question, “Is this really love?“. It sure didn’t feel like it. I felt embittered and heartbroken and left it at that.
Through this session with GD it became increasingly clear that my father was communicating a lot of subtle emotional layers that I was not tuned to as a child. The validation of it was how, after a lot of effort, I arrived at the same understanding of life that I grew up listening from him but never really grasped. The real heartbreak was not that I was not listening, but in fact the opposite – that I was not aware that I was listening to so much all the time!
For instance, his favorite advice to me over the years has always been, just learn to be happy with yourself. Now the profundity of it arrives. What I had heard it as was self-acceptance. Nonchalance even. Allow life to pass you by. Just be where you are. Don’t run. Don’t try to become.
As deeper equations emerge on their own, I am struck with the resonance of not longing. The effort to be-long is dropping on its own in the light of self-awareness asking myself the question: Where do I try to belong and what am I really longing for?
This article is a Gift of love to my dad. It has shown me love beyond form, grace that cuts across illusions. It is also a gesture of letting go & gratitude towards someone who has been my favorite mirror for the past one year. It has freed me from group politics realising that ultimately all group politics I played came from the roles I played to seek more love from my parents. Love and Grace.
When tangles untangle themselves
When pain reveals daily its joys
When enemies are as valued as friends
When knives are tools and guns are toys
What room is there for me to say
I want more structure in my life
More certainty, less ambiguity
Less walking on the edge of the knife
For Grace visits at every bend
Lighting my path with compassion
She asks nothing of me in turn,
Not even faith; I am the One.