I want to be important.
I hope to write something that’s pleasing and relevant. I want you to fall in love with me, to be charmed by my appeal, to be seduced by my wit and clever words. I want you to see my value, to get something from me, I want the pain to have a purpose, for my life to have meaning. And as I ask this of you, I know it’s not possible. I know your opinions of me can’t make or break my sense of self-worth. I’m the one responsible for making myself feel that way.
I’ve carried around a lot of shame about being born, an unwanted baby born to a couple of teens. I was an unplanned pregnancy, there was no “original want,” and their burden, their mistake, became mine to nurture and bring forth like a gene. I had no choice in the matter, it was imprinted on me from the start: you are not wanted.
I spent the last year in an introspective practice of yoga-teacher-training and through it I uncovered the truth about myself. I discovered that my shame around being born has been my default stance from inception to present. I’ve devalued myself, my talents, and dreams to keep myself small to ensure that I fulfill that role. I’ve done my part to make sure I wasn’t wanted, I told myself stories and lies to validate that premise, and I hurt myself a lot in the process.
As much as I craved them, I found it painful to receive compliments, painful because I didn’t believe them to be true. I wanted validation but nothing was ever enough, I couldn’t be convinced that I was valuable. Like everything else I’ve dealt with in my life I learned the healing had to come from within. But I didn’t know how.
I didn’t know how to heal myself from something I didn’t cause but believed to be true. I couldn’t undo something that had already been done, a living, breathing part of my DNA, but I did know that having awareness of it was enough of a start. I also knew that I had to be kind, patient and loving with myself. I needed to nurture and support myself in all the ways I wanted from others. I wanted a momma so I became my own mother.
I spent a lot of time thinking about little Shannon–my life as an infant, toddler, child, adolescent, etc. and how I could re-parent her. I went through meditative, visualization exercises of imagining my naked, infant body lying under the sun in the sand, hot, red and full of need. I came out of the ocean like a mother-goddess–the adult version of myself–wet hair, strong legs, eyes fixed on the baby. I go over to my infant self and cradle her in my arms, she clings and nurses with a fierceness. I tell her, ” My dear sweet child, I am so sorry you weren’t wanted by them. But I want you. I love you and you’re important to me. Your life matters. You may not know your purpose but you have one, whether you see it or not, its there, and I’m here for you now.”
There are different versions of my new story, and one for each phase of my life. There’s one where I’m five and beating down a path running with a tiger, I tear off my sundress and become the tiger. In each scenario I become my own hero. It takes a tall-tale to outdo the negative pull of my base position, the lies that tell me I’m unwanted. I have to counteract those fuckers and up the ante. I have to be willing to as a friend says, “Go to any length” to recover from the mapping of my childhood.
When I take my power back I make myself important. When I make my wellbeing the most essential thing in my life I cultivate value. I create my own self-worth by taking extreme steps to nurture, care for, honor, support, and love myself in all the ways I didn’t get as a child, or that I don’t get in my adult relationships.
This isn’t a–one-time fixes all–kind of situation. This shit takes work. I’m bombarded in my daily life with opportunities to drop back into that feeling of being unwanted. It comes natural to me. It’s easier for me to feel unimportant and small than it is for me to feel valuable. I can turn the most benign situation into a feeling of rejection, and one that feels so real. This is why I have to stay vigilant. I have to fight the urge. This is why I’m writing about it, to remind myself that it is up to me to own my worth, and to value myself.
The value is in the writing not the response. Yes, of course I hope there’s a take-away for someone, but the value of my work, isn’t defined by it. I stopped writing for almost a year. I was too afraid to say anything because I cared too much about what you all thought of me and my writing.
Writing again is a gift to myself. By writing I’m honoring myself and all the things I have to say. I’m important. My life matters, and what I have to say has value.
Thank you all for reading and for being a witness to my life.