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  • The Art of Reappearing

    I stand here waiting. To disappear or sing. ~Francesca Lia Block

    There’s a tragic trick that some of us mastered as children. We learned to disappear.

    We made ourselves, our feelings, our needs and our desires invisible  to save ourselves. We did it to keep peace in the home and to make ourselves less of a target. We did it to appear self sufficient so that we would be less of a burden to the ones we loved.

    As children in our families of origin, this disappearing act was adaptive. It helped us survive.

    The trouble with this response in our adult lives is that it no longer serves the purpose. As adults, we have far more control over our actions, our reactions and how we choose to show up in our own lives.

    When we disappear, we shortchange ourselves and everyone around us.

    Disappearing takes many different forms. All of them are destructive to us and our relationships with others. We may disappear by:

    • Refusing to take care of ourselves because we only find value in caring for others

    • Keeping quiet when we have something to say

    • Ignoring or suppressing our feelings because they are not convenient

    • Filling up our time with commitments and distractions so that we never have to really feel our feelings

    • Telling ourselves that honoring, valuing and loving ourselves as much as we do others is selfish

    • Allowing ourselves to be mistreated by others

    • Refusing to set boundaries

    • Anticipating the needs of others and expecting the same from them

    Reappearing is not easy. In fact, it can feel really uncomfortable. We are asking ourselves to let go of a deeply ingrained way of being and to embrace something new. As with all change, small steps work best.

    We can begin to reappear in our lives by

    • connecting to what we feel, when we feel it. Try journaling or talking with a trusted friend about what you are feeling at any given moment. Examine your day, what stands out for you and how did you feel in each instance?

    • setting boundaries. Boundaries are a challenge for many of us. Boundaries: Where You End and I Begin by Ann Katherine is an excellent resource. This article can be helpful in learning more about boundaries and their significance.

    • remembering the analogy of the oxygen mask on the plane. We cannot care for others without first caring for ourselves.

    • asking for what we need. Out loud. And giving others permission to do the same. We are not mind readers and neither are our loved ones. Love doesn’t mean anticipating every need. Love requires an open, honest dialogue.

    • speaking up when we have something to share. What we connect to in others is their authenticity and their willingness to be vulnerable. When we bring these qualities to our relationships we invite a deeper connection.

    • keeping a margin. Eliminating some of the distraction and commitments in our lives frees up physical and emotional space. This quiet time can be scary so fill it with things you love. Reading, hot baths, yoga, a chat with a friend or a walk around the block.

    • finding as much value in caring for ourselves as we find in caring for others.

    How will you reappear in your own life? What feelings do you have around self care?

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