May 11, 2019

After about six months of peppering our sex therapist with questions regarding the logic behind her method, she suggested that I volunteer for an upcoming Somatica practitioner training. As a volunteer, I could see the method being taught and come to understand the bigger picture.

The volunteer list was already full, but seed was planted; after attending an open house I talked with Fru and decided to sign up for the four-session, twenty-day Somatica training course. Despite being laid off a month later, I committed to the expense. I’ve completed one five-day session so far, and it’s already been life changing.

I didn’t grow up in an environment that was open to analyzing internal feelings and emotions; perhaps folks only associated therapy with being psycho/already crazy. So therapy—and openly referencing therapy—was a big move for me on its own. Still, certain things I scoffed at and refused to consider. Through Somatica, however, I’ve come to accept the notion of an “inner child.” It’s not some imaginary friend or abstract concept; it’s the shape on which you were formed.

Think of a tree, cross-cut. When you look at the cut, you’ll see rings. The rings of the tree help us to see the age of a tree and the environmental conditions. Looking at the inner rings, you can imagine what the tree experienced at an earlier time. The inner child is you at an earlier time. You can look back, see something that happened, and trace the effects back to your current situation.

As a child, growing up in a rural area with no children besides my younger sister, I associated with friends and cousins only at school or church. In my mind, they all had their own neighborhood friends and shared experiences, of which I was not a part. The people I considered friend always had other friends—and often friends with whom they were closer than they were with me. From a very early age I had a notion of being included rather than belonging. I had a transactional view of relationships: I was welcome if I understood the rules, played the way others played. So I paid to play. That was how my little kid brain thought was the best way to survive, so that’s what it did.

Decades later, I’ve been around the world, changing locations and friends every three to five years. I operate in patterns and frameworks. I’m very good at integrating and have no trouble plugging into new systems. But I also feel very alone. I have a life path that is almost completely unsharable with anyone else in the world. I’m tired from perpetually designing myself to fit in rather than being my authentic self—if I could even identify what my authentic self is at this point. And an awful lot of that stems from the decisions made by an elementary school kid that never got revisited.

Going back to that earlier you allows you to revisit that decision and use your current perspective to find improved solutions. To peel away the security walls set up to protect that earlier you and allow yourself to grow beyond that point. To add new, healthier rings to the cross-cut you’re creating.

For me, one piece of corrective action is writing again. The things I wrote in the past weren’t any more or less interesting or profound than what I’d write today; it’s just that over time I subconsciously restricted myself from writing. People started becoming aware of my blog and so I worried about exposing my real thoughts. Employers had opinions that differed. Someone who I interacted with in some way might take issue with an opinion I shared. So Leftsider posts became longer, more thoughtful and less frequent.

But writing has always been a great way for me to explore, express, and present what’s on the inside of me. It also was the motivation for the regular maintenance and development of this blog and domain. Writing helps me think slower in a world where I’m constantly moving and reacting and multitasking.

Besides, I’m an old man now and I can get rid of some of this “trying to fit in” business. I’m past the age of being a poster boy or a promising young talent. I owe it to myself—back then and now—to know and love myself fully, to be who I am and care less about how that plays out with others. Truth is, you can’t predict or change how people think of you. You can’t ensure your actions won’t offend or disappoint the world around you. But you can’t be compassionate to others and not have appreciation for yourself. I am nothing to be ashamed of. I am deeply flawed and still perfectly fine. And I’ve got a pretty good life despite all those shortcomings. I’m happy I can now recognize that.