I will start with talking about something that I talk about in every single session, workshop, or otherwise Healing Elaine® exchange. one of my vulnerabilities.
to preface this. one of the reasons that I did not continue to pursue my psychology degree (which was my major at Northeastern University) at University was that I did not feel it would allow me to be as vulnerable as I wanted to be with people. the reason that I wanted to be vulnerable with people, and continue to be, is because I find it gives them “permission” to do the same and then change. as a true quantitative slash artist hybrid, I walk the line between both human designs. the artist in me wanted and wants to express my core more strongly than the quantitative helper in me, in order to help others. this is why I landed outside of my major and “role” in life: psychologist. psychotherapist. psychiatrist.
as said hybrid, the artist in me breaks down the walls and barriers that would not be suited for a traditional therapeutic environment. and so hence we also have this blog. I will say that yes, despite my vulnerabilities which can make me feel very trapped at times, I do feel extremely free. and it is simply because I am not owned. not on paper, and not in any other way. this is something I would not trade for the world. freedom. it is why I have not accepted investment offers for my business as of yet. it is why I have not done many things. and yet I work hard to be aware when I am working from fear versus the conscious choice to not be a sell-out. the value of freedom is so important to me, because I never had it when I was young. my entire being did not belong to me. I digress.
back to freedom. being free allows me to express my vulnerabilities in a very raw and unveiled fashion, and the one that I wanted to share today (again, you can likely find variations of my sharing of it in other posts) is my fear of success. no, I don’t have a fear of failure. I have a fear of success, that would be quickly followed by a fear of failure tied only to that very success. this, I understand, is a widespread or common problem for people. and we all have different stories and experiences that back it up; stories that are both individual and collective in nature. mine comes on the heels of the simple fact that every success I ever had was followed by a catastrophic and terrifying event. as well as absolute radio silence about my achievements unless it suited/benefited someone else. and so I would like to share my experiences, feelings and process around my particular vulnerability revolving around success that I follow to manage this “dis-ability”.
let’s go back in time. when I was fresh out of college, after one of many rough patches courtesy of completely external factors, I was offered a “dream job”. I had pink business cards and they had my name on it. my role was to run around and collect money from big entities like real estate developers and fashion brands and place them in a magazine. yes, it was ad sales. I was using a foreign language to conduct all meetings, I was living in what felt like paradise with beaches and palm trees, and all of my interests seemed to collide in that one period of time for me on that one pink business card. although I had suffered unthinkable trauma that year between family and a very close friend, and a convicted felon landlord who spied on me constantly, I was ready to take on the world! or so I thought. I must admit, there was something about those Barbie pink business cards that really made my heart race. the color, to me, meant that I was about to finally “make it” in life! the way that I got this so-called dream job goes like this. leading up to the job, everything horrible that could have happened to me in a 6-month period of time did, and at the end of it I was out of a job. instead of applying online, I went out to the hottest nightclubs and events wearing my resume on my shirt. this landed me this job. I drafted a business plan for the magazine along with my intentions, and the job was mine within a few weeks. the only problem was, it felt too good to be true. and, it wasn’t too good to be true. I was just used to never getting what I wanted. and so the very thought that something could work out, in my favor, AND be all of the things that I wanted on paper, was…well, it sent my heart racing. I couldn’t sleep for about a week. now for those of you who don’t resonate with my past or the trauma that came before this example I am sharing, I will say this: imagine the absolute unknown, and that it is terrifying because it negates everything that you have ever known. imagine that an example of this might appear totally normal/benign in your eyes regarding the experience of someone else, but that it is very real indeed: the threat of something good happening and what comes with that. remember the time that Oprah gave the homeless man a whole bunch of money, bought him an apartment, counseled him, helped him get a job, and so on? and how a year later he was back on the streets because it was most comfortable? yes. this is how trauma works. it takes years to push through. this is why we can not have shame over our vulnerabilities. they each look different, and for each one of us. and for me, those pink business cards were a real trauma. I was a young woman, attractive, I finally had an exciting job with decent pay, I got to dress like Shakira circa 2002 for my job yet still be treated as a professional, and my business cards…pink. to me, this job represented all of the things I had ever wanted in life — basically my sovereignity– and I got to use my minor in modern languages on a daily basis. I was a rock star! and I couldn’t sleep. because for the first time in my life, I had something that I wanted…that no one else had wanted for me, or had claimed for me…
during this period of time, like Murphy’s law would constantly present in my life, a biological “care taker” came down to steal the show. there was a major incident followed by a medical emergency which landed both of us in the hospital within days of one another, and my life went back to “normal” again. depressive. chaotic. broken. dramatic. scary. completely without support. the way that it impacted this dream job was sort of like a slow burn. I clearly wasn’t able to be present, and my worst fear had occurred again, just like it had earlier that year — my success was not about me. it would never be about me. it would be about someone else, who would either take it or ruin it for me. each time I got on my feet, I was knocked over with pure force. I should have known better. but I was still a kid. a kid, living as far away from chaos as possible, but chaos would always find me – at any cost.
the reason I talk about the pink business cards is that the color pink really meant something to me. it was my favorite color as a little girl. it seemed to be this most fantastic and “dreams can come true” color, which, for whatever odd reason, meant a lot to me. it reminded me of Barbie or something, and the philosophy that “you can be anything”. since I did not receive those messages in a healthy way, I found this permission through my art, creativity, and playtime as a child and young adult. when this trauma of having and losing my dream job (which was really just a basic, not terrible life, by most people’s standards I imagine) happened, that color seemed to bleed all over the place, and the beautiful pink business card with my name on it is something that serves as a symbol for not only that time in my life, but for important imaginative times in my life. it would be a long time before I could find the metaphor for a pink business card again…it would not be until I started Healing Elaine®, in fact. Healing Elaine®, something that, finally, no one could ever take away from me. HE is my pink business card now.
fast forward. you can imagine the years of processes I went through, before the above story, and after it. our vulnerabilities are always a work in progress. and today, another shred of this vulnerability of mine, the sheer fear of success, was revealed. now this may sound like a life sentence to some, who may think “man that really sucks, you actually have to wake up every day and put all of your effort into one foot in front of the other for something so stupid that takes me no effort to do? I’m sorry, that’s awful”…but you know what, if it’s not one thing, it is another for us. we are all challenged in different ways. it’s called relativity. and believe me, this is just one of many of mine. and I share it to give you permission, if it, or something like it, resonates with you.
today I woke to a phone call from someone lovely who I worked with many years ago. the way that I stay in touch with people from the past who I have worked with is via remote sessions (they can be booked by calling the business line by the way — they are 2.5 hours total), occasional workshops, and when I hire folks I’ve worked with for various things. I love to build from the inside out in this way. anyhow, during the phone call, and it could have been a message for this person as well, I was alerted to the ways in which I still make myself so small. the ways in which I still settle, despite what the world may perceive about me from the outside. I do this still, because, unconsciously, I fear imminent physiological death and destruction. every few months and years I make MAJOR strides. and then I plateau. and then the cycle ensues again. and I do not mind it. and each time I reach new contrast, or a new mountain peak, I am reminded (again) that every one of our vulnerabilities is a process. there is never a destination. now, more on my vulnerability of fear of success…
one of the ways in which I have both consciously and unconsciously chosen to deal with this fear is by challenging myself with a fearful action on a daily or weekly basis. this may be as simple as answering a phone call that scares me (or that I have an assumption or intuition about one way or another), or sitting down to complete a task that seems “tedious”, like a business plan, that could actually take me further and make my dreams come true. I have to sit and think about whether I am using my intuition, or my fear, at all times. and that’s fine. I welcome it. one of the unconscious ways that I have “chosen” to deal with this fear is the fact that I am 100% certain God will not let me not be extremely expansive with my being. this is evident in the undeniable, and daily adrenaline rush of purpose that I feel in my veins. it’s something I can not get out of. if you have this, you will know what I am talking about! if you do not have this, it doesn’t matter — there is always an unconscious way in which you are being challenged or will challenge yourself when you are sick of being “stuck”.
the biggest and most SUBconscious piece of my fear of vulnerability, sits on the heels of being afraid that no one will like me if I am successful. how ironic, right? living in the age of complete media whores who will do anything to be seen, noticed, given attention. but this particular fear goes way, way back. and when we notice a fear like this, particularly around success, we have to take that string and pull it all the way back to the beginning. I sit and write my fears: the real ones, and the ones that PROBABLY won’t happen. and even if they did, so what? for me, I still struggle with this idea that if I am successful, I will die – because I will be killed. perhaps not physically. but through so many halting (and criminal, on so many levels) experiences around what should have been joy and pleasure of personal success, my mind body and spirit were trained to HALT. don’t move. don’t breathe, even. do not breathe! I still hold my breath…a lot. the idea that I will die if I am “too successful”, is very visceral in my body. and I work on it every single day.
in order to “survive” the “threat of being successful from the outside world”, I have made myself small in many ways. when my phone would ring off the hook, particularly when HE was first peaking about 5 years ago, I was careful not to return “too many calls” at once…because that would mean that I would “make too much money”…and “someone would find out”…I’m serious, these were real fears. nearly conscious. but not totally conscious, or I would have confronted them. instead, I was given a series of shitty circumstances to confront them.
my modern day / today fears still center around being “too much”, “too successful”, “making too much money” “having more than just my very breath”…and I see how my unconscious mind will work to accommodate what lies just beneath the surface for me. right under the conscious mind is that bridge between the trauma that we can not remember in entirety (and probably thank God for that – our brain serves to protect us until we no longer need to be protected), and the daily shit that annoys us about ourselves. consciously, no, I am not afraid of success! and clearly, I am consciously NOT afraid of vulnerability. because here we are. but in that territory of the unchartered…the basement without a light…the creatures still crawl up with their pink business cards and meet my conscious mind. and it is in between the two realms of psychological thought that I constantly negotiate.
to me, being successful, consciously, means that I can give others permission to do the same. and I do do exactly that. it’s what I get paid for. I also get paid for the unique processes that I use to get people beyond their hurdles. to me, being successful, also means imminent death. this is on the deepest and most unconscious levels possible. yet of course, I am conscious that it is there. and when my unconscious mind alerts my conscious mind to “danger”, that I might be incredibly successful, my subconscious mind comes up with all kinds of stop signs for me. the stop signs look real. they look like pink business cards, sometimes. and while it is painful to know that someone with so much on the ball (me), with so much potential, could still be stopping themselves to make themselves small so that they are “safe”, I find a real beauty in this tragic reality. the beauty is that I will transcend it. and the beauty is that I have no issue with sharing myself in a way that makes other people who struggle exactly with the same, either in specificity or theme, feel safe enough to recall, acknowledge, and address their vulnerability.
with all of this said, consciously I’m on fire with regard to what I want. but I continue the labyrinth of the hidden mind, reminding me that horrible things will happen if I am a great success. and the funniest part about all of it is, there is nothing I can do to stop the Universe’s destiny for me; my biggest fear and weakness, born from experiences only, has become and continues to become my biggest intention and strength. this is how we transcend evil. because what I dealt with was evil on all levels. having things taken from me that no one had any business taking and claiming as their own. and all the while, the paradox of the entire process itself, is a true beauty. this is the labyrinth of life!
some related updates here pertain to past and prospective work with patients…the person I spoke with today was concerned that I was over-booked and would have no time for them for a remote session. I do have time right now, for past patients only (no one gets a remote session unless they have had a traditional or pop up session, first). most of the remote sessions that folks booked at the tail end of last year have been used. so I am booking them again this week. I am also offering a couple of pop-up house calls for former patients only, which include a house clearing. this is something I have done recently on a fairly 911 basis, and it has been beautiful. as I get more organized with my time, it is allowing me to make space for some of these remotes and pop-ups — just during certain times only, because I am in a flux with other projects that can take a strong direction quickly, and there may be long periods of time during which I get suddenly and subsequently blocked off/out and will not be able to offer a remote or anything else. as for pop-up sessions for those I have never seen, stay tuned for the announcements for such. I am not sure if/when I will make another pop-up offering. you must also read both of the pre requisite books in my About section prior to inquiring. these are my general updates for my offerings beyond my TEM and PE focuses/launches (which I am very excited about!).
I hope this post was helpful on a variety of levels.