I am a master at conforming all in the name of keeping myself “safe” and “likeable.” However, it generally backfires in ways that are far from gentle and loving.
I wrote the other day (Tuesday) about my experience when I turned off my Gifts as a child and the consequences of that very vital choice. It is important for me to note here that I do not regret that childhood choice – it kept me alive and sane to do so. I’ve never felt angry with the younger me who had to protect herself. I love her and appreciate her for being so friggin’ smart. What I’m recognizing now is, as with many childhood thought patterns, it has morphed into sabotage and self-destruction as I’ve grown into an adult.
I remember as a child feeling “different” and so not wanting to be “different.” I learned at a very young age that “different” was dangerous and, even, wrong and something, for which, I would be cast out. Not being loved, for me, is a painful existence so I wanted to blend in with the “normal” people and be accepted for being “normal” and be liked for being “normal.” In the process of blending in, I became a master conformist and that skill, today, has become a straight jacket from which I’m now radically stretching to burst the seams.
I dreamt last night that I was sitting at the feet of God. I was amongst the people who were also sitting at the feet of God. I looked around me and everyone was still and reverent, eyes closed, heads bowed. That I knew all that, in the first place, was a clear indication that I was doing it wrong, that I was being “different.” I felt fidgety and constricted. I could hear the voices from the silent people “shushing” me. I could feel them reaching to place their hands upon my knees, my shoulders, my hands, “Hold still, Angie. Be reverent.” I could feel the itch of the collar that was too tight around my throat. I could feel my feet sweating in socks and shoes that were uncomfortable. I could feel my frustration bubbling up and wanting to burst forth in a scream.
I was terrified.
I was going to be “different” in the biggest way in just a moment. I was going to scream in a place where I was supposed to be reverent. I was going to jump up and wiggle in a place where I was supposed to be still. I was going to open my eyes and raise my chin proudly in a place where I was supposed to show submission. I could feel the tension building in me and I couldn’t stop it. No matter what, I couldn’t stop the bursting. I yearned to move and sing at the top of my lungs and dance energetically. I suddenly remembered being a young girl and, after witnessing the amazing singing and dancing in church that is portrayed of Baptist religions, I asked, “They seem to be really enjoying themselves and showing love to God. Why do we not sing and dance like that in church?”
The answer: “We don’t do that. It is disrespectful to God to behave so… uncontrolled. We behave reverently and dress modestly to show God respect.”
That answer left me feeling more confused than I felt prior to asking the question. I felt angry and like I was being “tricked” because, after witnessing the rejoicing of that choir, I couldn’t deny that there were other ways to do things. But I was so masterly at conforming, I went against myself and conformed as a child and continued to do so to survive.
There, at the feet of God, amongst the reverent, still people who were doing it “right,” I was realizing that I had been duped. Still reverence was not my way. As I felt my energy building to an unstoppable level, I felt the greatest sense of “less than” that I’ve ever felt in my life. I felt more “different” than I remembered feeling before. I felt damned. With tears streaming down my face, I looked up at God and He smiled down at me and stretched a hand toward me, bidding me to rise.
Those who were still and reverent had no idea I had risen, that my eyes were open or that I was dancing. They remained still and reverent, eyes closed, head bowed until I burst into song and shocked them all awake.
As this dream was winding down, I began consciously interacting with it and learning the lesson before the dream ended. I realized that my frustration with and inability to conform to the practice of still meditation stems from my innate sense that connecting with God is an active process. Stilling my mind and my body for longer than one minute is like lassoing a hummingbird. That continual struggle was less of a connection to my Source and more of a distraction to connecting to my Source.
I am “different.” At times I feel like I’ve been plopped on this planet and I’m completely out of my element. I do things “differently” and what I’ve learned is… I’m beginning to believe that’s a good thing.