–By Coralie Raia Darsey-Malloy
My father’s mouth twists in a snarling expression as dark foreboding eyes spit sparks of rejection that sting the very essence of my being. The volcanic intensity of his energetic eruption sears into my spirit and I recoil within in a futile attempt to reduce the impact of his diminishing words. “Create—all you ever want is the time and money to create—create what?
You can’t make a living creating—you’re just lazy—you don’t want to work—you never finish anything—grow up– take some responsibility! Quit all the daydreaming and get a real job. You will never amount to anything creating—it is bloody well ridiculous! Then he’d mutter some indistinguishable words as he stormed away leaving me feeling as fractured as Humpty Dumpty after his fall—with no Kings’ horses or men to put me back together again.
I loved my father and desperately wanted his love, approval and acknowledgement—but after a lifetime of trying to measure up, I never succeeded. Little did I know then how his rejection of my basic essence would warp things and lead me down a path that was fuelled by a desire to be perceived as responsible, productive, and hard-working and most certainly a finisher—at all cost. Without really understanding the process, a rift began to develop between what was authentic for me and things I needed to compensate for because of my father’s rejection. Through time, the chasm grew.
His unyeilding criticism and rejection distorted my sense of self and I began to define myself outwardly because of an innate lack of self-worth. My father’s rejection showed up as a harsh inner critic that continued to drive my perfectionist behaviors. In contrast, the whisperings of my inner spiritual world had creative urges that sought expression. When for fleeting moments I would tune into that inner space it felt graceful, inventive and teeming with possibility. Unfortunately, the creative urges were difficult to fulfill within the distraction of outer busy-ness. There was a greater need to prove to my father, the world and myself that I was not the inadequate, irresponsible wing nut Dad said I was.
A mind-trap developed and it drove me hard. There were some pay-offs though and I often found myself basing in accolades from others. I interpreted their comments about not having an off-switch—or being the energizer bunny and laughingly saying they wanted to remove my batteries as proof that I was not some idiosyncratic misfit. Their comments fed ego-driven needs that pushed me onwards and upwards. The ‘busy-ness syndrome’ became a way of life and helped keep the inner critic at bay. Through time, the incongruities of living within a house divided began to create a variety of health problems.
Feeling burdened by inadequacy and living an inauthentic life led to the development of two eating disorders. Patterns of compulsive coping alternated between self-starvation (anorexia nervosa) and binge/purge cycles of bulimia and laxative abuse. Long muffled signals of what it felt like to feel unencumbered, free, happy became distant echoes for over thirty years. Other times feelings of fear, dissatisfaction and inadequacy engulfed me completely. Other times the ‘busy-ness’ would cause my body to rebel and the only way it could preserve itself and slow me down was to create illnesses or accidents.
Even then, I could not relax and truly let go—my mind was so locked into driven, self-punishing workaholic’s pattern did not allow l for sustained periods of inner peace and balance. After a series of setbacks, I developed fibromyalgia. That turned out to be one of my greatest life lessons because it had such a slowing effect that it allowed to realize I was searching for something and I began to look for new ways to increase my spiritual bandwidth.
Somewhere along the path I had rejected most forms of organized religion because my mind could not reconcile the gaping discrepancies that were (in my opinion) too blatantly obvious for any thinking, questioning person to ignore. I wanted a relationship with a different kind of Deity—one that was available every moment of every day and one that could provide a more compassionate lens for me to view my life. That was not what I found within many pious pulpits. After many health challenges I began to look for a spiritual life rather religiousness formulated only on the outer and perceptions of human thinking.
Even though my busy mind kept waking hours jammed to the point of bursting there were more frequent connections breakthroughs to what I knew was a Higher Power. During those times, I would feel calmer and was kinder and gentler towards others. In a similar feel, there were some expansive periods where outlets for creative self-expression returned and so did the bliss. However, those times were short-lived.
The hard-wired imprinting of my youth would re-activate the negative areas of my brain and the old groove would become a vacuous trap that would suck me back into deep feelings of inadequacy about not being productive—and therefore not good enough. The mind-trap of busy-ness that had become a distinct personal identifier took years to transform. Nevertheless, the interesting part of it all was that my personal challenges and healing journey led me on a quest and that allowed me to create a successful career as a life coach, group leader and free-lance writer.
Eventually I developed enough awareness to see that the inner saboteur was making it difficult to take care of body, my whole self and I began to find ways to re-frame my thinking, and as I changed my beliefs— my outer life changed as well. After recovering memories of sexual abuse, I was able to overcome both two eating disorders and live a more balanced, fulfilling life. As I healed and became whole, I met the love of my life and married for the second time. My relationship with David created a safe haven for what at times felt like a bedraggled body and spirit. With his encouragement, love and support I began to see things differently.
During the times my driver would come back in full force David would create peaceful pauses by gently asking—“When is enough ever going to be enough for you? As I watch you, it is clear that you never take any real pleasure in your accomplishments. You finish something then barely pause to enjoy anything before saying NEXT! You are a fiercely creative and a original thinker yet you reject the very essence of who you are and what you do. Can’t you see that you are treating yourself and your achievements the same way your father did?”
One would think that kind of feedback would be an epiphany and clang a chord that evoked instantaneous change—but it did not happen that way for me. As with most growth processes change comes by taking three steps forward, two steps back then three steps forward until we make lasting changes. It took awhile, but the positive reinforcement from David began to re-frame the old programming.
It was daunting at times to confront ingrained mindsets but with persistence and cognitive re-structuring my inner landscape changed and so did my outer world. After years of white-knuckle, nail-biting challenges I now have a ‘so what’ attitude and no longer feel any need to justify I how I choose live. By choosing to stop worrying about other people’s perceptions, it is easier to follow my own Loadstar.
That attitude allowed me to slow down and write a 500-page manuscript about my healing journey and spiritual development. I’ve Been There—A Testimony of Hope www.ibtbook.com. It will be another visual reminder that will assist me in erasing my father’s opinion that I am not a ‘finisher.’ The ripple effect of that inner knowing has allowed me to become more capable, responsible and discerning than I ever dreamed possible.
Being able to accept that my quirks, flaws and eccentricities are a viable aspect of what makes me unique has finally silenced that harsh voice from the past that contributed to inner and outer chaos. Repeated exposure to any emotional state creates coping patterns that can be healthy or unhealthy. The old continuum has found a different path to follow and the momentum continually contributes to improved health, increased well-being and a more balanced lifestyle.
It is very different from the fragmented, disjointed, dissociated way I once lived. Once I grew tired of feeling entrapped within my ‘personal displeasure centers’ my intention to change created a positive ripple effect. I built upon the original desire for change by opening myself to the love and support of my partner David, having some and holding firm to the decision leave old self-perceptions behind live a more authentic life.
Thankfully, with practice and persistence it became easier to reveal more of who I really am. That has created a sense of solidarity between my inner landscape and outer activities. Once I told he inner critic to put a sock in it I could hear the inner whispers from my soul and heart’s desires. Both my parents have passed on and with the balanced life David and I now live we live within our means I listen to the All-knowing voice within. I am aligned to the Feminine Divine aspects of the Divine and the spiritual guidance and support I receive during meditation loves, is encouraging and more powerful than anything my father said. Consequently, I am free to live an authentic, conscious Source-centered life on my own terms!
My journey to health and wholeness gave me an opportunity to grow beyond the past limitations. The healing and life learning created a passion for whole person healing and dynamic living and is the focus of the personal development company David and I co-founded and co-direct. For more information about Fresh Beginnings check the website at www.fresh-beginnings.com