A while back I wrote a piece on the Fear Of Punishment. At that time I was becoming aware of just how much fear of being punished (for any/everything) controlled every aspect of my life.
Since writing that article, I’ve continued to dismantle this fear – sitting with it, asking for the layers of it that aren’t actually mine (that are collective or ancestral or cultural) to be cleared, and reaching out to my ancestors and also to living humans for support when this fear once again arises.
Happily, I’m experiencing so much more freedom — to be me, to express myself authentically, to serve according to my specific gifts — as a result! Yay!
Yet another descent…
And then, enter these past couple of weeks – a descent (yet again – oh, these turns on the spiral of healing) into more dark nights of the soul…
…heaviness, depression, extreme fatigue, difficulty expressing myself, anxiety around every little decision (and when I say ‘little’ I mean like, ‘Ohmygod, where should I put this dish into the dishwasher?’ type of little)… anxiety, dread, paralysis around larger decisions, just wanting to do nothing other than stare into space or lie in bed…
Until finally, the grueling emergence of this thought, previously fully repressed, finally finding it’s way into the light of consciousness:
“I’m a bad person.”
Underneath every decision: I’m a bad person.
Underneath the fear of punishment: I’m a bad person.
Underneath every moment of my day: I’m a bad person.
How could this thought/belief not be embedded deep within me?
Seeing it, hearing it, it is so obvious. I was born and brought up in a community that had for generations held the belief that each and every one of us is born into sin. And that, it is only through Jesus and the Grace of God, that we can be saved (from sin, which is in/of us, which is us).
I was taught from the moment of conception, as generations had been prior to me, that I am a bad person in need of saving. That anything (desire, sensations, intuition, pleasure, distrust…) arising from my body is not to be trusted because only that which is of God is Good and my body is not of God.
Somehow I had completely repressed this teaching.
Either that, or it was so deeply embedded within my psyche that I there wasn’t even anything to repress because it wasn’t separate from me… it was simply woven into the very core of who-I-am.
Consciously, for decades already, I thought I believed that my body, like the Earth, is sacred. I thought I believed that I could trust the impulses, desires, intuitive messages, etc that I receive through my body.
I thought I’d fully rejected the messaging of the body as sin and my soul in need of saving.
This growing ‘tightness’.
And yet, over these past couple/few weeks, I’ve felt this ‘tightness’ growing within me as this previously unrecognized layer of anxiety, fear, powerlessness began to surface.
I’ve felt it as I load the dishwasher (maybe I should have put that cup over there; yes, it would have been better over there; I am a bad person for not having put it there).
I’ve felt it as I’ve mentored beautiful people on their healing path (I should have said this instead of that; clearly I’m a bad person).
I’ve felt it in interactions with my son (I didn’t handle that right; I should have handled it this way; I’m a bad mother/person).
I’ve felt it as I’ve shared or not shared on social media (I should say something about world events; what if I say the ‘wrong’ thing; whether I share or don’t share, I’m a bad person).
It’s endless. It’s exhausting.
It’s terrifying to recognize just how much this thought/this voice has (unknowingly until now) controlled every aspect of my life.
And, all of this had (until this week) been operating under the surface. I was not conscious of any of this dialogue.
I’ve recognized as well the primary ways I attempt to counter this belief… how I either:
- try to do everything perfect; try to be the perfect mother, wife, friend, mentor… in order to convince both others and myself that I’m not actually a bad person.Or
- try to convince both myself and others that I’m not a bad person – perhaps through pointing out all the ‘good’ things I’ve done/said.
Tying ‘I’m a bad person’ into the fear of punishment
Let’s bring this back to the beginning… how can I not be afraid of punishment if I believe that at my core I’m a bad person?
If I’m a bad person, I deserve to be punished. Right? (My upbringing would agree).
So, in order to not be punished I need to be constantly proving (to you, to myself, to God) that I’m not bad… I need to be perfect so that I don’t stand out and you don’t realize how bad I actually am. I need to be constantly ready to defend myself and to have arguments on hand to convince you (and myself) of my goodness.
Oh, what I painful, exhausting loop!
And, oh! What a relief to see it!
What a relief to be able to separate myself out from it and to not just be swept up within it; simply believing it without even knowing I believe it.
I share this glimpse into my life/process in the hopes that if this is a thought that also operates undercover within you, it will have the opportunity to surface… for you to gain more conscious awareness of it as well.
Because, as always, awareness is the first step. Without awareness, we continue ever-onward in the same loop. With awareness, all (healing, change, transformation) becomes possible.
ps. does this story stir something within you? An understanding, insight, new thought? Feel free to reply and share. I’ll respond with a heart and perhaps even a few words.
pps. this is a big month in the Witchy Healer Wisdom School (where patterns/thoughts such as “I’m a bad person” regularly surface for awareness/healing). The wonderful Sarah-Lu Baker is joining us as a guest instructor for a Self-Illumination/Embodiment Workshop and I’m facilitating an Equinox Celebration in addition to the normally scheduled teaching, mentoring, and healing circle calls. Yay!
Want in? Read this page and then reach out for a consultation!
pps. early registration for Reclaiming The Christian Powers ends today. For those of us with fundamentalist Christian backgrounds (or Christian ancestors) this course provides a fertile path for the dismantling of the errors and distortions that have led to such suffering alongside the reclaiming of the beauty and healing power of the most compassionate essences of Mother Mary, Jesus, and Mary Magdalene.
ppps. have you read my Healing Fundamentalism ebook yet? Take the quiz and receive the ebook here.