Tag Archives: fears of inadequacy

30 Days of Brené Brown — Day 14: #universality #inadequacy #healing #group #ACOA


Welcome to Day 14 of “30 Days of Brené Brown.”

Here is today’s quote:

Imperfections are not inadequacies; they are reminders that we’re all in this together.
― Brené Brown

Or, this shorter and wittier take, which I admire more:

We’re all alone in this together. –Lily Tomlin

It’s all true. We feel alone, but we’re not. We feel as though no one gets our pain, our perspective, our feelings of inadequacy and less-than -ness, but they do.


We all just have to be willing to take that step and trust the person we’re relating to when we say, “I feel like a loser sometimes…” and hope to Sweet God on High, that the person we’re sharing with isn’t Biff Tanner:

So, yes, we are alone until we open up. If you watched that clip, you can see the elder McFly laugh and try to “join in” when Biff’s friend mocked Marty, but it was fleeting. He wanted to belong, even if it meant making fun of someone else, which was against his inner goodness and character.

Opening up needs to happen with like-minded people; and they will come into your life in ways you won’t be able to imagine.

How? You must believe and be ok with the truth that you are “small,” not in an inadequate way, but in a “humbling” way: that you are a soul with lessons to learn from life experiences (“lessons”) both “good” and “bad.” You must allow them all to synthesize in order to grow.

When those lessons happen, and when you’re paying attention, their messages will line up for you, like ducks in a row, and then you will see that it all makes sense. Your challenges are not personal.  This is how the Universe, energy, fate and life work.

Taking the “inadequacy” route and the “victim” path will help you find other people, but they might not be The Best People to find.

Ultimately, we want people who help us grow, feel good about ourselves and thrive. You don’t want people who remind you of a problem or who sit and stew with you, right? Those stewers keep you in the problem.

Soul bearing and stewing are a “tear in your beer” song apart. It might feel good and help you get your stuff out, but after a while, you should want to take a shower (or have an “aura combing” as we did on the retreat) because it’s actually misery.

Short and sweet: A healthy person does NOT want to be miserable all the time. (You should see the face I’m making as I think about all that; it’s like I encountered a hairball in my closet.)

So yes: Helpful People exist, but you won’t heal until you open up and allow your humility to show you that you don’t have all the answers. Who wants to have all the answers?

Those Answer Guys. You know I hate ’em.

We get through this stuff together. Like The Breakfast Club. Even Dick Vernon, the teacher in that movie had his moment of self-awareness. The best character of all? The Conscience?: Carl the janitor.

"I am the eyes and ears of this institution, my friends."  (c) universal pictures

“I am the eyes and ears of this institution, my friends.” (c) universal pictures

The other lesson is that those other people on this planet who are still asleep: their antics are NOT about you, it’s about THEM and it will NEVER be about you and it will ALWAYS be about them. As much as it might pain you to realize that you don’t matter at all to them and in fact you matter so little that they do this stuff automatically as if you’re not even around, it’s the truth.

Here’s the good news: no one thinks about you as much as you fear they do. Here’s the bad news: no one thinks about you as much as you wish they would.  –Dr. Phil (I love that dude.)

They are still learning; sometimes they are us. We are they, they are you and you are me and we are all together. Remember that as you sit on your cornflake, waiting for the band.

I have a phrase, “The lessons will continue until we learn them.”

Woo-woo confession: I had a consult yesterday with an Angel healer because I’m really trying to figure out my purpose here on this planet. My mom was not my purpose. She was an agent of my purpose. Trying to save her from herself was not my purpose no matter how it was foisted upon me. It has taken me a very long time, 45 years, to accept that; so now, the question is: what IS my purpose? I’ve had inklings and thoughts and feelings and impressions and grand piano crashes, but it helps to throw money at someone else who can help you figure it out.

Sometimes we just don’t want to give ourselves the benefit of already knowing.  Or if you’re singing from my sheet of music: oftentimes you were told that what you saw or believed you saw wasn’t happening or real, so you condition yourself to not believe what’s going on, to push it aside and ignore your gut reactions and your intuition. Then you learn to rely on others (the deniers) as your barometers of truth and fairness. Sometimes you can be led well, other times you’re tossed off the track.

The consult was validating. The message was clear: my purpose is as a communicator, a healer and a teacher — because I am a seeker. I was told to write the memoir. Keep writing, but the best use of my talent and my life’s purpose is to create a book that has a practical application and which isn’t just about spewing my story. That was a huge interest of mine — to not sound like some inadequacy-nursing, lunatic adult child who never got her act together. I don’t see the point in ranting if I can’t be of service and add value to what I’m trying to impart. It’s just who I am. But I was stuck, so I really needed some guidance. The guidance was: share how I’ve survived the world I came from and how I’m thriving despite it.

The only way my work will benefit and serve others is for me to share my history and show its all-too sad commonality: there are a LOT of ACOAs out there. Many are afraid to come out. They needn’t be. What happened to us all is Just Awful.

So when I reveal and illustrate my feelings of “aloneness” I will relate to the audience that so dearly needs to hear that peace is there, that our truth is: it’s nothing personal despite the pins and daggers and shooting pains (physical and emotional) that feel like they are personally aimed at us.

The “imperfection” Brown speaks of: it’s in us all. We are all imperfect; that’s what makes it so great!

It’s because of that imperfection that we might repress, deny, or fear which allows us to be suck jackholes about or toward other people. It’s hard to admit we’re imperfect; if we don’t, we aim outwardly at others and it’s all projection. It’s along the same lines of “I know you are but what am I?!” playground smack. We can’t see in others what we don’t possess in ourselves. (Don’t worry, I’m not always deep like this at cocktail parties, but I am always paying attention, I can’t stop it now.)

So it’s a tightrope for us all: be careful of how you bemoan your life; for there is always a lesson it it.

i've done this. have you done this? i've been the demon, the kid and sometimes, the cookie. it sucks.

i’ve done this. have you done this? i’ve been the demon, the kid, and sometimes, the cookie. it sucks.

The thinnest line of all is when we consider another person The Selfish / Wrong / Jerky One and don’t see ourselves and how Wrong / Inadequate we are being as we label that other person*, “The Problem.”

So remember: the next time you want to mouth off about someone else’s imperfection, selfishness, hurtful behavior, arrogance or whatever, make sure you’ve got a mirror handy solution, or a drop of self-awareness, or allowing a  smidge of vulnerability to admit you’re hurt too. If that’s the case, that you feel that way due to personal history (you better get a handle on that history) that’s really why you’re mad.

Thank you.

*drawing and then seeing that cartoon shook me up a little. there are exceptions and it’s when life feels tragically unfair: when we are neglected, abused, cast-off and blindly hurt by other people, most often by our adults when we were children. this is the cruelest cut of all — i swear it’s not personal. but catch it though — see where that hurt and abuse repeats itself in other areas of your life: are you letting in more Biff Tanners into your life without noticing it? i wrote this post about when i’d done that. (click on the red.) or worse, are YOU continuing that cycle? if that’s what’s going on: get help. find help. use the help and then you will become the help.

False F(r)iendship, Feeling Unseen, Unheard and Dressing Very Old Wounds


This is gonna be one of my deeper “self-knowing” posts.  It is the culmination of a learning process I’ve been consciously on for almost 10 years. Don’t worry, I include typical moments of humor, to deflect what I’m really feeling ;), so you’re safe.  I propose that you leave only if you’ve never had a friend show you that you don’t matter to him or her anymore. This post also efficiently shows you how to be immature about it if you’d like to do the same (or to serve as a reality check if it’s happening to you).


I thought so.

OK. I started a post about a month ago, it started with the line, “Sometimes deciding to dislike someone isn’t enough.” Where I was going wasn’t pretty. It involved fantasies of freak and extremely isolated tornadoes, an unexpected job transfer, a mystery case of amnesia, a diagnosis of multiple personality disorder, imprisonment, even winning the lottery if it meant the person would move far away. Hey, I’m not moving.

The post was a knee-jerk reaction to seeing someone I don’t like anymore on my online space, despite the fact that we’d been out of touch and blocked by each other for months. Oh, yes, I have a few of those. I actually find it a badge of honor to be blocked by someone, and I feel that same special endearment for those I block.  Here’s my take: my Facebook experience is like a deck party.  People can come, everyone’s invited.  But if you’re gonna be a dick?  Or nice online but a freakin’ douchebag in person…?  Here’s the gate, use it. So regarding this online-generated froth I had, I had two choices: deal with it because they don’t like me either or quit being online.  I like being online. It’s no secret that I prefer life off the grid, but I like the social “pokes” and kindnesses I see via social media.

So I must put on my big-girl panties and deal.  That’s OK. I will. I am. I do.

I decided to wait on that post, because I wanted to step back, assess my feelings and not let it get the better of me. I’m glad I did that because it turns out I “wasn’t mad at what I was mad at” (thank you dear Fr. John J. O’Connor for that life-learning phrase) and what I was really feeling was jealousy and I got over it.

I stopped in that post before I got to talking about the feelings –emotional and physical– I have when I encounter a former friend or significant other. I get a pain, or more likely, a sensation that rises up in my very lowest gut, almost in the pelvic region.  The only thing I can equate it with for many of us who speed in our cars, is the sensation felt when the Five-O pulls us over.  What the what is that?  What is that feeling and where does it come from? I know I’m not alone in this; I’ve talked to other people about it — I won’t divulge my sources. But it’s a fantastically primitive sensation. Is it guilt? It sucks, whatever it is, and I know it means something, likely knowingly doing something wrong and doing it anyway and then getting busted.  Must be guilt.

But why do we have that feeling when we see those people again? Read on…  

I’m writing today because I got burned recently by someone whom I thought was a near-and-dear, but someone whom I realize was just as messed up, if not more so, than I was when we met.

I wrote this as my status on Facebook yesterday, “the lessons will continue until we learn them. then we become a teacher; then we will be free.

Carl Jung, the brilliant father of theory of archetypes, the collective unconscious and his studies of the human psyche has said many amazing things; I have thought that maybe I will write a blog post per my favorites. “A month of Jung…”  His most personally frustrating quote, which is indelibly written on my brain, is this: “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” Gah! I even hate seeing it!

I have lots of people in my life whom I’ve either pissed off or whom have pissed off me. You can’t be who I am, or someone like me: scarred, learning, fearful, bold, tenacious, loyal and quick with the biting wit and slicing tongue and not have a few foes.  Hit one of my pressure points, the unseen or unheard thing, and I can become unholy. Most of those foes have become so because I have either recognized a part of myself in that person and denied it or I have let the other person deeply into my heart and soul and they exploited my soul like a … a … cockfight trainer. Sad and true.  I know it, I see it and I usually work on it. You can’t get off this bus of self-awareness once you’re on it.  It’s like a case of … herpes, I guess (not that I’d actually know…): it has flare-ups.

Such is the beauty of the universe: its magical insistence upon flare-ups balance: You can’t have hate without love first. You can’t have spite without benevolence. You can’t have scorn without admiration. You can’t have silence without sound. It just doesn’t work. Jung said this too:  “Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness.”

Whatta know-it-all jerk.

Anyway, I have been on a journey for many years shedding toxicity (sometimes that means I have to shed entrenched behaviors) from my life.  This shedding means owning things: my temperamental tendencies, my reactivity, my fears of inadequacy and how those feelings transmute into trying harder, working harder, pushing harder, pulling harder, jumping higher, shouting louder, crying longer, hurting longer and just generally over-performing. It was part of my elemental and deeply primitive “see me, hear me, notice me, don’t leave me, i’ll do better” and layers-deep behaviors left over from growing up in a multi-generational dysfunctional trend in a family of truly gifted and brilliant people.

And guess what: it was bloody exhausting. Nothing quite like working your ass off to have someone notice you (bitter irony alert) who’s totally self-involved (too) because of shit that was also done to them when they were younger.  Boy, that was hard to admit. 

It’s an old habit with many people like me who are Adult Children of Alcoholics (I love my parents, so don’t think I’m being a brat, I’m just being honest). It’s also something that can come up from being a child of a mentally ill parent.  One of my sons had a preschool teacher who grew up in a world where her mother was so emotionally fractured and reactive that this woman as a child had to learn to show no emotion, none at all, so as a result she was like Spock. But she loved being around children because of their raw emotion that it sustained her, even though she was fairly ruined. I asked her about it one time and she said that getting help from a psychiatrist or other professional would be admitting that her mother did this to her… and I said, “so… uh, … what’s the problem with that?” and she simply couldn’t do it.

This journey of mine will continue and I’m grateful for it. I see the lessons now and I can write the lesson plan: listen to and feel the intuition, my true inner teacher, telling me what to do: “OK… here we go. Here comes one, feel that prick in your gut? that’s me (you, actually) telling you to … NO. Ugh… don’t make eye contact, don’t talk, dammit, ok… don’t talk much more. Shit! You shouldna said that, now you have a con-nec-tion, remember those? Ok, don’t say anymo– alright… reroute: look at your watch, look over the shoulder, there’s Bipsy, by the window, go to her.  Really?: ‘Why won’t she come over here?’ She’s not stupid… Don’t resume contact with this one …no. NO, don’t say THAT… Gaaad, OK, we can still save you.  You still have time to NOT SAY THAT… you’re on your own now… good luck with this stray… you now have a new project… initiating ‘fix this person’ mode. I’ll be here … in the corner under the dark felt blanket… being ignored by you for the next, oh, six years…”

But I am closer now. I think I’m really getting it. No, I swear!  In fact, when those relationships go pear-shaped now, I’m fairly ready and waiting. Sometimes I’m the dumper, others, the dumped. Despite the sting and the big hole, it’s OK though, because the lesson has been learned.

Feeling unseen and unheard for the formative years of my life has definitely had an impact on how I relate to people.  My mother used to tell me that when I was in kindergarten, I came home with “Five Steps to Making a Friend.” I believe it was a simplistic list adorned with my potato(e) (hahah, I miss me some Dan Quayle, anyone else?) people.  My mom said it went along the lines of,

1: Say hi to the person.

2: Tell the person you like their hair or clothes.

3: Ask the person their name.

4: Tell the person your name.

5: Ask the person to be your friend.

I think it worked. I remember many friends when I was little. I hope we all did. I don’t know what’s happened since kindergarten, but it seems that it’s harder to make good friends as an adult and the ones I have, I really want to hang on to. There’s the one I’ve had since 8th grade CCD and she won’t let me say how long that’s been… There are the built-in friends: cousins, and they are truly, anchors. My cousins have never let me down.  The adult / married built-ins, in-law siblings and their spouses have also been a blessing to me. And then there’s the cousins of the spouse which have also enriched my life.

There are a couple friends that I thought I had for the long haul, despite my intuition tsk-tsk-tsking, rolling its eyes and filing its nails the entire time.  The friendships that go from:

A: hi

B: heeeeyyyy…

A: i never knew my father.

B: my mother was an arsonist.

A: i was raised on dry dog food and two hours of sunlight a day.

B: i ate canned cat food and peed outside near a tree.

A: let’s go on vacation together.

B: i’ve got clothes in the car, i’ll drive.

within the first hour are likely doomed.  It’s sorta like dating: the people who are ready to jump in the sack within the first sip of the drink are probably not gonna be able to make the relationship stick without some serious attention, slowing down and patience.

The ones that seem to last are the ones that are slow to percolate (she knows who she is if she’s reading this, the poor thing) and that’s what my lesson has been: the people who take a while to get to know me and let me get to know them are the ones who see me, who hear me and who know that it’s important to take time.  It’s a lot like how I met my husband. (I started a blog on that too — how my life has been saved, so vibrantly enriched and blessed by simply having him near — and I put it on the back burner because I really wanted to honor it; he has been in my life longer than out of it now.) We weren’t hot and heavy for a while (you can come back out, Dad) as we spent many months talking and getting to know each other.  We let each other be seen and heard (even though I didn’t know it was happening) over years, and it’s still going on. Good! It has to.

If you’re incapable of having a mature, face-to-face conversation about the state of your relationship, here’s how to show a friend who trusted you that s/he doesn’t matter to you any more (or: Here’s how to mess with someone who trusts you):

1. Pose: frequently and openly preach authenticity, but don’t dare actually practice it.

2. Control: be reactive and maintain the friendship on your secret terms; expect your friend to read your mind.

3. Betray: tell your friend you don’t have time, but be openly friendly with others and definitely be friendly with people whom you know have hurt and don’t like your “friend.”

4. Confuse: when things are awkward and you’ve walked out on that “friend,” definitely dance around the perimeter of the friendship but don’t make meaningful contact (Facebook “likes” are an excellent tool for that).

5. Ignore: be unresponsive to your friend’s apologies, heart-felt vulnerability and soul-baring attempts at reconciliation.

Yes, this still happens to people at 44. Feeling invisible and feeling unheard is a very deep wound with some (most!) of us. It can have some good side-effects: ambition, success and audacity and guts.  It can also have some really (swear alert) fucked-up side-effects too: unrelenting flamboyance, outrageousness, loudness, larger than life-ness, chips on the shoulder, anger, disregard for how we appear to others because, dammit, we’re gonna LIVE, BABY!  Here’s a concrete example: I think almost all of The U.S. House of Representatives and New York City feels unseen and unheard.

The physical “guilty” feeling and getting that “I told you so…” tug in the belly must come from ignoring our intuition. It’s the knowing disobedience we inflicted on ourselves and the crash of “oh shit, now we’ve done it; mom’s gonna kick our butts” in our souls.

Those of us who feel (deeply) unseen and unheard are likely drawn to one another so so so strongly that we don’t realize we are simply repeating the pattern. Consciously we think, “This person gets me, s/he knows what it’s like, we’re gonna get along great!” but unconsciously, our bodies, hearts, spirits and souls are saying, “You’re gonna get ignored again. You’re also likely going to ignore this person when s/he needs you desperately not to.”  We might feel a “connection” but it’s really an attachment, which is waaaaay super-duper, I-can’t-tell-you-enough-or-how-very-deeply unhealthy.

We are lining up with people who are very likely to never see us and never hear us because they, themselves, are too busy working very hard to be seen and to be heard, hence betrayals and other acts of desperation to be seen and heard.  This was my pattern and that was my lesson to learn: I can not have an earnest and healthy relationship with another person who is as wounded as I am if that person isn’t working as hard as I am to beat the inner feelings of invisibility and irrelevance and truly listen and see the other person.

What’s worse than any of this? I’ll tell you: being rejected by someone who is totally vapid and self-involved. Why is it worse? Because that hits the unseen and unheard nerve like a cannon ball.  And if you’re asleep spiritually, you’re gonna do one thing and one thing only: GO AFTER THAT PERSON MORE. I’ve done it myself, but I stopped about two months ago and I see other people do it all the time.  In fact, I saw someone do it yesterday.

It’s a deeply old pattern and it’s gonna keep happening until, and ONLY until, I (you, we) stop it. Yesterday, I stopped it. I showed someone the gate. Lesson learned. I am free.

Did you know that band was all white guys? I had no clue!

Thank you.