You cannot heal what you will not unveil.
You will be too much for some people. Those are not your people.
The most important day is the day you decide you’re good enough for you. It’s the day you set yourself free.
Let’s talk about our stories of how we are too much; how we are not enough; and all the shame we carry within our bodies. Super fun topics, right?
Here’s a thing about these narratives we carry in our minds and bodies and spirits need to be named. They need to be brought out of the dark shadows they live in and into the light.
Naming these narratives we all carry is powerful. It actually helps us to claim power over these stories instead of allowing them to run rampant in our unconscious and impact the ways we connect (or don’t connect) with others and with ourselves.
Naming these narratives, admitting that we each carry them in our minds and bodies and beings, is only the first step however. Once we have named them we need to find intentional ways to release them from our systems; to create space for our own incubation and transformation (and learn to tolerate uncomfortable feelings, because believe me, transformation is very rarely, if ever, comfortable) and to reclaim those parts of ourselves that we hidden, stuffed down, and or ignored: our own strengths, power, and daring.
Before we can move into this process however, I believe it helps to understand where these stories may come from, how they get under our skin and into our being.
I believe these narratives come to us from two different types of trauma.
The first is inter-generational trauma. I define inter-generational trauma as the trauma that is passed down to us by our family of origin through their words and actions. It is a lived experience trauma and we all experience it to varying degrees starting when we are very young. It is passed down in the ways we are told what we “can” or “can’t” do, how we “should” or “shouldn’t” act. It is passed down in the language used in our families and the ways we are told we are wrong, told we can’t trust our own inner wisdom, told we don’t know what we are talking about (even if we are actually an expert in the particular topic).
It is passed down in the ways we are silenced by our families, in the ways we experience from our primary caretakers that we require too much of their time or energy, that we are too loud, too opinionated, too fat, too thin, too quiet, too sexual, too studious, we take up too much space, we are simply too much.
It is passed down in the ways we are told we aren’t (good) enough by those who are supposed to love us unconditionally. It is passed down in the ways we are encouraged to compete, how we are reminded that our sibling/friend/neighbor/enemy/person we have never met is better at this thing or that thing (or all things) than us. It is passed down in the ways we are corrected (often “for our own good”). It passed down in the overt and subliminal messages we receive that our best efforts are never good enough.
All of these messages are passed down to us both unintentionally and intentionally by our caregivers. Likely all these messages were also passed down to them as they were passed down to our grandparents by their parents, and so on up our family tree.
These messages are most damaging because they come from the people we rely on for our very survival. These messages impact the ways we are able to form attachment bonds with not only our caregivers, but in later life with our intimate partners and close friends.
These messages are then solidified through what I call Cultural Relational Trauma (CRT). CRT is the trauma we experience living in our current patriarchal, white supremacist, misogynist, ablist, hetero and CIS gender-normative, capitalist culture. It is in the ways we other people not like ourselves. It appears in the media, in our homes, in our schools, in our places of worship.
It also shows up in the ways we judge ourselves. If we do not meet the “standard” or “normal” or “expected” ways of being in this world, due to our gender, the color of our skin, the ways our body functions, whether we have “enough” financial resources, etc, we internalize the message that there is something wrong with us. We internalize the message that we are not good enough. That we are too much in some ways. And the shame of who we are, how we exist, burrows deep into our bones.
Essentially, if we are not a white, CIS-gendered, hetero-sexual, able-bodied, wealthy male who has a strong dose of toxic masculinity running in our being, well… then we are certainly considered by our culture to be “not normal” and thereby not good enough and to take up too much space. Furthermore, we also receive the message of how we should feel shame for not meeting these “normative standards.”
I want to quickly clarify that something being normal does not make it right or just. Racism and misogyny are normal in our current culture. Neither is right or just.
We receive these messages from our families and the messages are compounded by the outside world. It is no wonder how we have internalized these narratives. Culturally speaking, this is intentional. What I mean by that is the status quo requires us to buy into the messages of how we aren’t enough, how we are too much, and how we should feel shame, so it can keep on keeping on. If those narratives weren’t running through our minds, bodies, and being 24/7, can you imagine the world we would live in? I am highly doubtful it would be in the authoritarian oppressive world we currently have.
I talk more about these ideas in the 11 minute video below:
This essay is the first of a four part series I have written exploring our narratives of too much, not enough, and the shame we carry and how we can release them and reclaim our own strength, power, and daring. I hope you find it helpful and informative.
This essay series is also to introduce the themes we will be exploring in the fall online women’s circle Becoming Unleashed. We begin October 1 and space is limited to six women. You can learn more here.
To view the other essays and videos in this series, go to the links below:
The impacts of inter-generational & cultural relational traumas (this essay)