I am hard on myself, people tell me this a lot. Sometimes I look at that statement in a negative light and think something is wrong with me and I look at it and realise that I can’t help it. Now I am looking deeper and see that it is a choice, a part of me has decided to be hard on myself and as with many things I am coming to realise that this decision can be changed – like everything in life.
If I can separate the word myself into my and self I come out with my self, to me these two words hold much more weight than they would as one. With the statement as two I can look upon me with love, this is my self, my child, my responsibility – my ability to respond to the child within.
I finished work on the 27th of July and had booked a B&B in Manly for a few nights and planned to go skydiving with a friend on my birthday, the 29th. We spent the first day walking around Manly and taking it easy, we were both quite tired for our own reasons so the day was chilled. Tomorrow we would fall from 14000 feet in the sky and somehow land safely on the ground, we reminded each other of the event now and then with smiles. “Guess what? We’re going skydiving tomorrow!”
We woke early and drove out of Sydney to reach the skydiving centre, my assumption was to sit through a long induction process and equipment lesson but within 5 minutes we stood in our blue jumpsuits webbed with a strong nylon harness adorned with silver links and buckles. As I was being adjusted by the instructor I looked over my shoulder and saw the prop kick over on a small passenger plane on the runway, a group of divers were gathered nearby fully kitted out with helmets and cameras, we would join them on the climb up.
The aircraft was squished, there was about ten of us in two rows all facing the rear as everybody did equipment checks and gave each other hand slide fist bumps for well wishes – I got one too and felt like part of the team.
We were the last four, my friend and I strapped to the front of our instructors like day packs on a tourist. We shuffled forward to the rear, my fearless symbiont and I the first to jump, I sat on the edge of the side door, the wind gushing through almost drowning out the noise of the propeller, the wing edge just out of arms reach and nothing but earth below. Barely had I gotten used to this position and we tumbled out trailing downward away from the noisy plane and into the peaceful sky – peaceful aside from my cowboy screams of joy as I hurtled downward toward the green and brown expanse.
The chute opened some time later, there was total confusion as my inner gyroscopes were thrown around like dice. And then peace, we drifted like clouds, my instructor navigating us toward the distant runway. We made a long slow turn and my entire body faced horizontal to the ground, what a view, it seemed to last forever, the green brown pastures broken by darker treelines, a long grey snaking highway with its traffic looking like coloured glitter. The sky was clear this day and the blue ceiling joined the earthy horizon in a line rule as we drifted peacefully downward.
The instructor gave me the controls, I took hold of the webbing and took us on a long left turn, this was such a graceful way to travel – I pulled down on the right strap and we turned back toward the airfield. I looked down and could see a big X marking the landing zone, those that had jumped before us were touching down and we were about to follow suit. With my legs lifted horizontal held up by my gloved hands we glided in, the grass becoming more defined, the people on the ground getting bigger and bigger, touchdown, I instinctively put my legs down on landing and the two of us landed by our own strength. Assistants ran to decouple the gusty parachute as I stood there in glee.
My friend landed after me and I ran to where she dropped, my eyes wide in excitement, we walked together back to the equipment room and de-suited. The instructors showed us photos of the jump, I laughed, the computer screen displayed my mouth wide and my moustache in vertical pony tails from these captures of uncontrolled excitement – we decided not to pay the king’s ransom for the photos and instead revelled in the blissful experience that was our first skydive.
We took the day and drove into the Royal National Park south of Sydney, had lunch on the way and ended up at Wattamolla where a freshwater lagoon meets the ocean, a space full of beauty and adventure. There was something amiss in me however, this whole day I had been feeling off, somehow unconfident, slightly anxious and a part of me was trying its hardest to cover that fact up.
This intuitive woman could sense this and gave me an observation as we sat in the forest, she identified my desire to have love reciprocated by showing my ‘love’ for others. By pushing affection to create some certainty that I would be loved, and when this affection was not openly returned I got shitty – I saw this with others, how rejected I felt when I presumed not to be loved by someone. I saw this with my friend as today she was not responding to my lavished attention. I felt like I wanted to cry and so desperately wanted someone to hold me and comfort me and tell me it is all right, oh look I was still in the drama.
We finished the day with gourmet pizza and wine in Manly before heading back to the room to rest. I slept soundly but woke at 1am to agony and angst.
My mind was furiously turning over and over thoughts of rejection which fed fuel to my emotions, I felt like I was being torn apart from the inside, every technique I had learned for calming the mind was useless, I lay there and suffered, I lay there and projected anger, how could she be so mean, the anger turned into depression, my life is over, this is the end, I feel so terrible – the emotions and thoughts went back and forth, over and over. Hours later she awoke and mentioned she could feel everything that was going on inside me, she then delivered the most painful ultimatum I have ever received. She ruthlessly showed me my aloof attention dramas and the fact that if I was not standing in my own truth I was not really in service of the other or loving the other – this hit me very deeply, you may have seen what I am like around people, offering my joy to strangers, well, it now all seemed like a sham, I look back at my interactions and see such falsehood. I am always taking things so personally so I overwork for those around me to love me to ensure that certainty, that safety.
I had zero opportunity to defend myself, my throat was super tight and I was sobbing, I felt awful, no words would come, I just had to accept her fury, and accept my own destruction.
The morning came, I had not slept, she gave me another ultimatum, I was trying so hard and so subtly to vie for her affection, my ego was this tantrum ridden young girl being severely dumped for the first time. I took everything so personally, I couldn’t help it, I was not in my power, I was not in my truth.
She suggested that we didn’t have to spend the day together and that we could go our separate ways, I still wanted to be loved by her and I couldn’t stand in my truth, eventually I did what I have done most in the past, asked her what she wanted to do.
I got out of bed and packed my things in the car to drive the long road back to Canberra.
I drove for hours, bleary eyed and working hard, I cried and laughed and vomited. I saw scenarios where I made such an effort to have everyone love me only so I could love myself, I sought the external to give me an internal. I was forcing people to love me, and I could not stand the idea of not being loved.
The next few days were as painful as the first, I wallowed in pity and caught myself doing so, I desperately wanted someone to love me, a tug of war between comfort and breakthrough, I realised that I was bullshitting myself, trying to seek comfort externally.
I am learning to check in with myself, to tend to the inner child. Throughout the days I would ask what Little Dave wanted and then collapse in tears saying over and over again “I just want to be loved”. I am learning to speak with Little Dave – “I am sorry that I neglected you for so long, I am sorry that I put work or lovers or friends before you, I love you and am here for you”.
THIS is self love, not some illusion of greatness that I had been pretending with the last few years. I had been bludgeoning my inner child into submission which only served to make it darker and darker. And then sometimes it would come up to say hello. For so long it would try and make me realise what my priorities actually are, I think I’m finally getting it and this is not a once off breakthrough, I am on the path of learning to love myself and pay attention to my inner child.
When we have children or pets we put them above ourselves, we nurture and love them close to unconditionally, and if we don’t? If we ignore the child? Look what happens!
So why don’t we do it for our inner children? Well I say for myself that I have never known how, never been taught or shown, always thought to supress with hours of meditation or a healing from someone or in other cases attention from lovers. It is in my perspective that I receive this world and yet I have not been looking after that perspective, instead I sought to muffle the one that perceives in favour of the world around.
No more struggles for suppression, I don’t need to fight myself.
It is time to love.
It is time to check in with everything I do to ensure that its right with me, with my inner child.
“Little Dave, I love you, I want you to know that you have a voice, you are so important to my journey, I need you and we’re here to do this together.”