By Dr. Steve
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out, Come Out,
Wherever You Are!
greatest pretenses are built up not to hide the evil and the ugly in us, but our
emptiness. The hardest thing to hide is something that is not there.
what is it that our souls have been buried under? What has so anesthetized our soul? What
is it that leaves us disconnected from the very essence of who we are?
there are volumes of books written on the subject, so it would be hard to distill all of
that into a mere chapter, but let me see if you recognize this about yourself.
story is one of the classic ugly duckling who turned into a swan. We shared a couple of
classes together in grad school. We would often work on projects together, so we
spent a lot of time with each other. One night over coffee, Paula told me about herself
and the obstacles that had shaped her into who she was today.
me now, you would have never guessed what it was like for me growing up. I was short and
chubby until I was fourteen. My mom made me cut my hair really short. I wore a pair of
glasses that were from hell.
we laughed together.
I tell you that I was the object of everybodys ridicule? It was really
had only one seemingly saving grace, how well I did at school. Now, that was the only
thing that saved me from being totally ostracized by the kids my age.
get me wrong. I never kidded myself. I knew what few friends I did have liked me only so
that I could help them with their homework.
how did all of that change for you? I asked, not able to match the person I knew
today with the person in the scenario from back then.
funny thing happened to me. I dont know what it was, maybe my hormones finally
kicked in. I grew some, shed my baby fat, convinced my mom to let me change my hair style
and get contacts.
the very people who had taunted me began to embrace me. The only problem with dating
became who was I going to choose. I continued to excel in school. I had gone from
being the butt of everyones joke, having my name painted on the bathroom walls,
being shunned by everybody because of my physical appearance to the homecoming
that must have been sweet revenge, I said. The odd thing was, she didnt agree
with me. In fact, she started sobbing.
cant tell you how much hell all of that was for me. And it haunts me to this very
do you mean? I asked, feeling somewhat embarrassed for not understanding any of this
you see? Look, when everyone was making fun of me, it was because of how I looked. The
only reason anyone liked me at all was because of what I could do.
all of a sudden my looks became more acceptable and people liked me for what I looked like
as well as what I could do.
point is I never was liked or disliked for who I was. Me on the inside never impacted
anybody. I never learned to know me much less
value me. When I was too ugly, I hated me because of my appearance. When I became
attractive in everyones mind, well there you had it, it just reinforced that my
value was derived from my physical appearance.
all along, there was a whole me buried deep
inside myself. Never coming out, never daring to show her face. This part of me stayed hidden from myself and the world.
tried putting this together. So you never really built your life based upon who you
were, you just figured that people would like you for what you could do and how you
I mean I put doing and achieving above all else, above just being. I viewed everything as
a competition where if I didnt win, I was a loser. I never had any satisfaction from
what I accomplished. It was like there was a black hole inside of me that never could be
would happen to you if you were to become less achievement oriented? I asked her.
dont know. What pops into my head is, I would lose myself. I would be totally lost,
I would have no sense of myself.
sat quietly for awhile trying to absorb all that we had just discussed. Looking at
Paulas face, I could see that she had reopened some painful memories.
For me, I was more confused than anything. I just couldnt connect the person I knew
today with the person Paula was describing. I somehow felt responsible for not being
sensitive enough to what Paula was going through.
a few more moments, Paula wiped her eyes, then gently layed her hand upon mine, as if to
say she understood how hard this was for me to see her so upset.
she continued, The moral of the story is I had built my life on a never ending
treadmill chasing affirmation, acceptance, and self-worth through other peoples
recognition of my appearance as well as my accomplishments. But the point is, I had never
found a way to provide love and affirmation for myself about myself. I was completely
estranged from myself, unable to ever do enough or be enough to fill that void.
all recognize the pact that Paula made with herself. It sounds something like this,
In order for me to be accepted, in order for me to fit in, I will forfeit all of who
you understand what I mean by forfeiting who we are? We shut off, tune out, disconnect
from who we really are. The sense of importance we place upon other people accepting us
becomes so out of proportion that we lose ourselves.
what is it that we lose when we make this kind of pact? Inevitably, we sacrifice our whole
emotional being. In order to conform, in order to please, in order to pursue what others
deem important for us to be, we have only one choice: we disconnect from our emotions.
is this divorce, the divorcing of our emotions from our soul, such an inevitable outcome?
Quite simply, our emotions, our feelings are little more than the manifestation of our
passions, our passions being the manifestation of what is important to us.
emotions are a sign post. They are an affirmation of the path we are on, the people we are
with, the destiny we are chasing. When things are clicking, when things are in sync, we
know it by what our feelings are telling us. When things are present in our life in a way
that does not honor who we are, our emotions tell us that as well.
sustain a life in which our soul is not connected to what were doing, who were
becoming, means that we must learn to ignore our whole emotional-self.
emotions will let us know whether something is right or wrong for us. When we choose to
ignore what our emotions are telling us, then we set ourselves up to be hurt. Think about
the person who stays in an abusive relationship. Or how about the person stuck in a job
that may be financially rewarding but not a reflection of that persons interests and
talents? What about the people who forsake their personal life by burying themselves in
their work? In order to sustain a life with that many contradictions between who we
genuinely are and what we have in our lives, we must learn to ignore our emotions or
deaden them in any variety of ways.
second part that we disconnect from ourselves is the little voice inside of us. The voice
that guides us as we make choices. The voice that is connected to our soul. Some people
may think of it as intuition.
dont be put off by my choice of words. I dont mean to insinuate that there is
some para-normal experience taking place. I am only describing a phenomena that we all
experience. Our little voice is the guide we learn to trust, to listen to when we are
living our lives from inside of ourselves. You see, that little voice is the direct link
between who we are and how who we are gets injected into our lives.
we are [re]connected to our lifes journey, our little voice is honored as we clean
out the parts of our life that do not match who we are. Our little voice is followed when
we make decisions on what direction our life should take.
when we make the kind of pact that puts other peoples opinions and judgments ahead
of ourselves, then we stop heeding our little voice inside or we shut it off all together.
lets slow things down for a moment. This would be a good time to stop and reflect
upon what Ive just gone over. Does anything I have just examined hold any relevance
Have you made any pacts that have led to you disconnecting from your soul? If so
what are the pacts?
have you had to sacrifice about who you are in order to make and sustain these pacts?
not only lose ourselves by forfeiting who we are or disconnecting from the little voice
inside, we often times become overwhelmed to the point of being paralyzed by the wounds
that we carry around inside of us. What is it that paralyzes us, paralyzes us to the point
that we hide? We hide who we are, we hide what we feel. We hide what matters to us.
is a close friend of mine. Ive watched Johnny wrestle with himself over the years.
His life was out of control because he wasnt connected to his soul. He had abandoned
his soul at a very early age. Abandoned it so he wouldnt have to feel the pain of
betrayal. Abandoned it so that he wouldnt feel so consumed by the confusion he felt.
Abandoned it in order that he may simply survive.
survived by building a shell. A shell around his wounds. A shell that separated the world
from himself. Sadly, a shell that separated Johnny from Johnny.
has fought long and hard to awaken the parts of himself that he had buried out of sight.
As a result of his courageous work, he has found a way to be present in his life. Present
to the people he knows and the circumstances he faces. Today he enjoys a life free from
panic and fear. Panic that he would be found out for who he feared that he was.
see, Johnny lived in fear of anybody finding out, finding him out. And the way he coped
with that fear was by deadening his soul by totally disconnecting.
learned at a very early age how to finesse the people in his life. For him, it was a
matter of survival. He didnt see it any other way. Survival to him meant never
letting anybody find out. Never letting them find out his secret.
how could he possibly let the world get close? How could he run the risk of anybody
getting close enough to see? See his doubts. See his confusion. See the guilt that
paralyzed him. How could he possibly share the doubts he carried around about himself?
the only way for him to cope was to create pseudo-intimacy with the people in his life. He
knew all the right things to say. He knew when to say them. He knew as long as he kept
feeding them what they wanted to hear, they would never go looking for who he truly was.
only problem was the longer he hid who he was, the more shame he felt about who he was.
The cycle became more and more vicious. The more shame he felt about who he was, the more
he drank. The more he slid into his private world, a world racked with shame, fear,
confusion, and secrecy.
not only was he running from his past, he had to hide his present as well. But, he
convinced himself that was the only way to survive.
thats how he survived throughout his whole childhood. Unable to trust anybody.
Unable to feel cared about by anybody. Unable to feel safe with another person. He just
invented a new life. A life that was separate from what was going on inside of him.
at the age of thirty, he was still doing the same thing. Living a double life. A life
where he played at being whole. He played at being involved. He played at being connected
with the people in his life.
the longer this double life went on, the worse his drinking and drugging became. The worse
his acting-out became. The more shame he felt about his secret life, the more out of
control his public life became.
They would leave just as quickly as they came. Jobs. He had been fired from three in the
last two years. He would go through periods of being estranged from his family. There were
times when he was one step ahead of the bill collector, but that didnt keep him from
getting more credit cards and maxing them out. His friendships seemed to end abruptly in
fits of anger and disappointment, never to be repaired.
he could fool you. From the outside looking in, you would never have guessed. You would
never have guessed at the emotional swirl that was going on within him. You would have
never guessed how fear consumed his every waking moment.
would have never guessed how much pure panic permeated his emotional world. And it all got
acted out so that he could hide, hide from himself and the world around him.
fact, it seemed that initiating a new relationship was the precipitant of the cycle
repeating itself, always ending in tears and accusations. The more women he brought into
his life, the more he acted-out. Everything became out of control as he had to maintain
this double life until finally he went to get help for himself, finally reconnecting to
his soul by shedding the shell he had created to hide his wounds.
many of us, disconnecting from our soul has been a means of coping. Coping with the well
of pain, coping with the well of fear that has consumed us our whole lives. The cause of
the fear and pain may differ from person to person, but the means of coping looks the
same. We all have secrets. We all have our ways of hiding what we dont want the
world to know about us. We all inevitably hide parts of our soul so that we arent
believe we have to hide ourselves from ourselves and the world. The solution: invent a new
person. So we go about the business of divorcing ourselves from who we are by creating
somebody we believe the world wants us to be. The more we crawl into this shell, the more
convinced we become about how unacceptable the core of who we are actually is.
just keeps the cycle going. The paradox is what allowed us to initially survive becomes
the means by which our soul becomes emotionally and spiritually deadened. After awhile,
were no longer hiding the pain and shame that we feel about ourselves, were
only hiding the fact of how empty we feel inside, how empty our lives have become.
solution to ending this cycle is the courage we all possess, the courage to discard the
shell we have created. The act of discarding our outer shell will make room for the
emergence of our awakening soul. As we make room for those parts of ourselves that have
lived in slumber our whole lives, we will experience our lives taking a new direction, a
direction that enables us to step out of the shadows.
stop for a moment and think about the parts of yourself that you leave buried deep inside
of you. For example, there may be a part of you hungering to be loved by somebody special
but too afraid to let anyone else know that part exists inside of you. Or there may be a
part of you who feels very angry for always being taken advantage of by other people, but
too scared to let anyone know how angry you are. Or a part of you that is kind and gentle
but doesnt feel safe expressing that kindness for fear that your kindness will be
taken advantaged of. Or a creative part of you may want to be an actor but is frightened
of disappointing your parents if you dont become the executive that they want you to
the part(s) that you are aware of that are hidden away, lets see if you can first
identify what they are.
for each part you have identified, what is so frightening about bringing that part more
consistently into your life?
The point is we all have good reasons for disconnecting from our souls. The means by which
we disconnect may differ but the result is the same. We bury alive essential parts of who
we are. Without these essential parts, we are less than whole. In burying any part of who
we are, we have chosen to keep part of ourselves in the shadows. By [re]connecting
to our lifes journey, we will discover ways to escape the shadows by bringing all of
who we are to the table.
chemical dependency and its toxic impact on family members. Raise your
children to choose to be alcohol and other drugs
free. Learn how
to in Dr. Frischs, Psy.D. Recovery book series.