A week ago I lay flat on the floor. My back had gone out and my chiropractor appointment was several hours away. What did I have to do but think about the past year?
It hasn’t gone the way I’d imagined it would. In January I felt gusto for my new Resonance Coaching practice. I was designing my website and brochures. I was meeting with people to share my plans. I was leading my first workshops and experimenting with my first coaching sessions.
My confidence began to ebb in late spring, as my work wasn’t taking off the way I’d hoped it would. I didn’t want to admit it, but I was beginning to fear that I couldn’t stick it out as a small business owner. I loved the coaching, the Resonance Circles, and the workshops, but I didn’t love any of the other necessary work. Anxiety mounted as advisors suggested business strategies that I couldn’t embrace.
In September I decided to let go of my expectations. I would find more stable employment and do resonance projects on the side. The shift was a huge relief. I felt like I’d been walking into a wall again and again, and now I’d found a door in the wall. I walked through and closed the door behind me. Now I’m teaching voice lessons, leading workshops as they arise, and volunteering. I’m applying to grad school.
And that was it. Leave behind the old plan; walk forward with the new plan.
Which brings me to last week, when I lay flat on the floor. I’ve had hip and back instability before. After months of pain back in 2012/2013, I found an underlying energetic issue at play: anger I’d repressed since the dissolution of my first marriage. That energy was still living in my body, and my physical pain didn’t let up until I expressed what I’d been holding back for five years.
So lying on the floor, I asked myself: what emotion have I held back this time?
Shame. I tell myself I shouldn’t feel it, but it’s there.
I feel embarrassed when I remember the Hannah I was in January. I had a grandiose vision of bringing Resonance Work to the world. I believed I was starting something that would affect thousands of lives. Well, my plans didn’t work out the way that I expected them to. Either my dream was foolish or I was inadequate to the task of making it come true. In either case, I failed.
I never let myself say, “I failed.” I’ll bet even as you’re reading this, you’re thinking, “You didn’t fail!” You might tell me that having a big dream is beautiful, no matter if it didn’t work out the way I planned. We might talk about how every experience teaches us, how my Resonance Work will impact my work in the future, and how it’s about the process rather than the results.
All of that’s true. There’s only one problem. If I’m constantly positively reframing my experience, I will gloss right over my difficult emotions.
What if I let myself feel angry that I didn’t get what I wanted? What if I admitted my shame? What if I wept over the death of my dream? Put aside for a moment the sweet narratives I weave about my spiritual journey. What if I spoke out loud what I’ve carried in my gut like a boulder?
Lying on the floor, it didn’t seem unreasonable to express pain. On the floor, pain was a reality that demanded attention.
Now the physical pain is a lingering memory in my body, but it prompted me to write down the feelings that I skipped over this year. Embarrassment, sadness, anger. I read the pages out loud. I feel like a fool. I feel that Dreamer Hannah betrayed me. I feel like I need to grow up and become Mature Hannah and never listen to the dreamer again.
St. Irenaeus wrote, The Glory of God is a human being fully alive. For me, fully alive means I let every emotion move through me. I don’t want to push the unacceptable feelings down. Refusing the dark emotions dampens my capacity to experience joy and wonder. I want to give Dreamer Hannah plenty of room to play and then to let her grieve and grouse like a child when her dreams don’t pan out the way she wanted.
Today I went to the ocean. I had the frigid beach all to myself. I gathered stones and shells and threw them one by one into the still water. “This is my anger,” I said to the wind. “This is my shame. This is all the time I spent that now feels like a waste.” I threw until I’d spoken aloud all the shame that I’ve been holding back.
I highly recommend this. If you don’t have an ocean nearby, you might throw rocks into a river, a field, or a forest. What might you speak aloud? What truth might set you free?