Failing Others, Coming Home

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My biggest fear is other people’s suffering.

It was the first day of processing during my Ayahuasca ceremony, realizing that all that pain I was feeling was in response to other people, but not actually other people. This gave me some control back, these were still my feelings to process.

But still, seeing other people’s pain is the hardest thing for me. And this includes their disapointment in me.

And so, fear of disapointing others which is a form of other people’s emotional discomfort, has been debilitating to me.

It influences much of my fear of success – I’d rather not start, or not impact more people, if that would mean possibly disappointing them later on. Yes, this idea coulda affect more people, but what if tomorrow I decide to stop doing it? Then more people would be angry, dissapointed, and hurt, after building that expectation that I’d be there for them.

Subconsciously, I am affected by my father’s dissapointment in my lack of religiousity, and in my mother’s unrealstic and impersonal expectations of what success should look like.

(Writing about my parents while they are still alive is a unique challenge. But in the past I’ve written things that I hoped that they’d see, but which they actively avoided. At this point, not intending them to see this is good enough for me)

My biggest terror is failing my kids. I’m set up to fail – I barely have enough resources to handle myself, let alone give them the time and energy they need. I get triggered up the wazoo by my eldest child, who reminds me of everything I dislike in myself, and takes up as much energy as I do (which is a lot). There’s not enough air in the room for both of us.

On the flip side is knowing what failure looks like. Will I be able to handle it if they are half as angry at me as I am at my parents? Am I as oblivious to their needs, the way my parents were to mine? Will I slowly fade away from their lives as my career picks up, the way my father did?

No amount of rationalizing, of telling myself that I am in a better place, better equipped, that what I fear for them will not come true because I fear it, helps. The debilitating fear of other people’s suffering, which in this case are those most entrusted to my care.

I’m glad I’ve discovered this, because now I can sit with it.

And I believe this fear, of disappointing others, is at the root of much of my ADHD, and of holding me back from being as entrepreneurial as I could be.

Here’s what has worked, so far: reminding myself that I don’t owe anybody anything. Even if the whole world depended on me, I could still quit tomorrow, it’s my right as a human being. Others may respond as they will, but I don’t owe anybody anything. Theirs is their world to navigate, mine is mine.

On top of that, I keep bringing myself home. To a home right under my feet, one that I take with me, one that is occupied by my inner child at multiple ages. Somehow this is soothing like nothing else. I have nothing to prove, no where to go, no one to make happy. I’m already home. I cannot disappoint anyone when I am already home, apparently.

Here’s a short meditation:

Take a nice deep breath in, and out, and let yourself relax, here and now.
Feeling grounded in the chair, feeling the ground beneath your feet, allow yourself to feel home, right where you are.
Home is beneath your feet. Allow yourself to feel the safety, comfort and familiarity that comes with home.
And in this place, allow yourself to connect to your inner child in all their ages.
Infant, child, tween, adolescent.

6 months, 2 years, 6, 10,14, 17.
Feel all the ages that are significant to you.
Allow them to all interact with each other.
To accept each other as they are, because no one else knows who they are like they do.
Accept the things that each child cannot do at each stage.
Notice the unique quirks and behaviors that make you uniquely you. Embrace them.
Celebrate the existence of each other like no one else does. No one else gets you like you do.
This is home. Acceptance. Understanding.
You take it with you wherever you are.
As you go about your day, when you wake up and when you go to sleep, allow yourself to instantly take a breath, allow yourself to relax now, and come Home.

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