I was mostly silent as a child. Because I lived with multiple families, a boarding school and a children's home I believed to be accepted I should be invisible and ignore my feelings. It didn't help that I grew up in a culture and era when parents believed children should be seen and not heard.
In my early teens I was stunned when an aunt asked me how I felt about something. I didn't know what to say.
In my early 20s I married a Wall Street lawyer in New York City who, like my mother, told me what to think and feel. Because he wanted to be the sole provider I was not allowed to work. When he said I babbled when speaking I became mostly silent again.
When he began teaching at a law school in Georgia I pleaded with him to allow me to finish my BA degree. He agreed. Two years later, after after a couple of affairs with other women, we were divorced. He left town.
I began to heal and feel empowered when I graduated from college and began to work as a children's therapist at a Mental Health clinic. I was amazed when coworkers, clients and friends valued what I said.
I joined a local outdoors group and began canoe camping, backpacking and hiking with other like minded people. I'd finally found my “family”and my voice.
I met Bud, my current husband and hearts companion in my late 40s. We've been together 15 years. He
is a dedicated wilderness person with a mind of his own.
When I began to feel invisible I was stunned. I felt like a child again. I kept asking myself, “Why do I feel I have to fight to be heard?” At first I blamed Bud for not listening or being more attentive. I became angry. Yet deep down I also knew my husband loved me and did care.
To figure out what was going on I asked Beth McKinnon, a dear friend, who also happens to be a life coach, “What's my part in this?”
She shared how past trauma creates limiting beliefs that affect our current actions, judgment and decisions.
To my surprise she said, “If you took radical responsibility for feeling invisible with Bud what's the part you play?”
I suddenly felt empowered. Because I felt silenced and was terrified of loosing my voice I believed I must “fight to be heard.” My communication was often adversarial. It was a huge epiphany.
Beth asked me to replace my limiting beliefs with empowering ones. Both came to me in a flash. “I have to fight to be heard” became “I own my voice” and “I fear losing my voice” became “I own the power of my voice.” For me this was a huge revelation. My eyes brimmed with tears of joy and relief.
Her powerful coaching/healing work about owning my voice had far reaching effects. When I shared my experience using her radical ownership exercise with Bud he softened and talked about the part he plays in our conflicts. I told him Beth asked if he may be feeling some loss of power and control right now. He teared up and shared some of the things that bothered him. Our powerful heart to heart talk brought us closer.
A few days later I had a second revelation. I realized why I was so angry with a friend. She told me she felt manipulated and controlled by me in our support group and asked that I enter a pact with her to stop talking when she gave a signal. I knew it was her problem. She'd told me she felt manipulated and controlled by many women. Instead of respectfully declining I became enraged. I couldn't understand why.
My epiphany about feeling silenced lead to a change of heart. Suddenly I was living a different story. I began to let go and no longer felt the need to force anything.
Over time my old memory imprints became less of a filter though which I viewed life. The release of limiting beliefs started to transform my relationships. I discovered my fear of being silenced was woven with being an unwanted child and feeling the need to apologize for being alive.
I could see how it's difficult to love others when I didn't love myself.
When I own my power, and do not expect Bud to GIVE it to me, I speak and listen in a different way. Our communication isn't a contest but a partnership. A gift to share. When I change, Bud changes.
When I discovered the origins of my limiting beliefs I stopped judging myself. I felt self-compassion. Truly compassionate people are now my role models. They touch a chord that resonates with my deepest yearnings. People flock to them. They are a refuge.
I understand now how my healing began when I recognized and released my limiting beliefs. When I let go of my life-defeating actions I opened myself up to a more life-affirming world.
Today I feel lighter and more joyful - like I've been reborn.
To learn more about Beth McKinnon's work or set up A COMPLIMENTARY Individual, group or teleconference COACHING SESSION go to http://www.bethmckinnon.com/
"Insist on your life, never imitate... Do that which is assigned to you, and you cannot hope too much or dare too much."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
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