There is this pattern I sometimes unconsciously slip into that does not work well for me. I learned it early- a coping strategy in a childhood home where the adults’ underlying rage and unhappiness was like an ever-present threat beneath the antiseptic scent of well-scrubbed appearances.
What I learned to do to survive was to continuously tune into others: to vigilantly and constantly watch and listen with my whole body and being; to anticipate what might be required; to disconnect from any sense of my own life – whether casual preferences or soul-deep desires – in order to serve the other’s priorities.
I felt I had to earn my right to be for one more day, every day.
When my marriage to my sons’ father ended I remember telling a friend, “When I live with another I turn too much of my inner face toward them and lose myself over time.”
Oriah Mountain Dreamer
Palace Gate Counselling Service, Exeter