“This is the bright home
in which I live,
this is where
this is where I want
to love all the things
it has taken me so long
to learn to love.”
– David Whyte, From The House of Belonging
During a bodywork session years ago, my rolfer said to me, “Well, you’re in there; somewhere.” I raised my eyebrow, looked up at him awry, and asked what he meant. “There’s a part of you locked away in there,” he said. “It hasn’t come out yet.” I may have looked at him quizzically, but I got the gist of it.
Having been told, “You are the most authentic person I know” by numerous friends, colleagues, and clients over the years, and having done good work in the world, I wondered what was left to unfold, what part of me was ‘still in there. But I could feel what my rolfer meant. Even though I have created well-received art, content and experiences, and am well-regarded and inspiring to those who know me, I feel like a large part of me is still in a closet. When compliments or recognition would come my way, I’d think to myself, “They’re only seeing 25% of me.”
“One of the deepest longings of the human soul is to be seen,” wrote John O’Donohue, which is likely why I knew something was there, somewhere. The thing is, I felt blocked from that other 75%.
Later, and unprompted, my osteopath echoed my rolfer during our first appointment. He shared a bit of his own story, how he discovered this, and what he went through to bring that part out. “It was like I’d found Gollum at the bottom of the well. He hadn’t seen the light of day for a long time, but there he was.” He added: “Be very gentle and patient with that part of you. It’s skittish and afraid to come out.”
I heeded his experience and advice, yet still felt blocked from that part of me that felt like an aquifer of unexpressed life. I started to have a bit of FOMO around this part of myself. What am I missing out on? Was it a part of my dear self that I’d put in wraps and carried through safely up until now because it wasn’t safe before? Was it simply a part of me that was inaccessible because of the biochemical and physiological havoc that chronic Lyme Disease wreaks? Was it an expression that was too afraid to come out because of what the world would think?
There’s a strength that comes from being authentic, as our podcast guest, Virginia Bauman, notes in this episode. And as she discovered after attending our first CEO Bootcamp, “There’s a wholly other level of authenticity there that I can’t touch.” She knew that unless she went through the process of finding out who she was, she’d never get a taste of what kind of leadership comes out of that person. And, she noted that that person was afraid.
Like Virginia, I wonder what else of me had not come forward?
I hear the words of my osteopath again: “Be very gentle and patient with that part of you. It’s skittish and afraid of coming out.” And when it does, it will integrate into the whole of you, namely because you loved it into being. Because you gave it space and time to come out on its own accord. Because you no longer cared or feared what other people would think. (As Nayyirah Waheed writes: “if someone does not want me it is not the end of the world. but if i do not want me the world is nothing but endings.”)
Perhaps I need to live my way into the answer as Rainer Maria Rilke wrote in Letters to a Young Poet, “…I would like to beg you dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”
I think that’s exactly what Virginia came to do. Leaving the bootcamp, she ended up living her way into the answer to the most dearest question one can have: Who is it that’s in me, waiting to come forth?