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October 27, 2022

Bodily FreedomHow old patterns become visible in a group

The ‘I’m-not-good-enough’ syndrom rears its head

It has been a long time since we got into a group with more than 10 people for several days. The experiences, conversations etcetera trigger something in me. I see that I am not claiming my place. I stay behind. I’d like to be invisible. If there’s not enough room for everyone, I don’t sit at a table, for example. And I see that there are several people, just doing their thing, whereas they came here to be in action. Part of me is filling this gap they create. At the same time I know They ARE and I DO again. And some are doing things, which I don’t dare. Time for reflection.

We arrived in France almost a week ago to build a tiny house. We arrived only at a time when all sorts of things were going on. The owner’s dog fell seriously ill on the afternoon of our arrival and had to be euthanised the very next day. A group that same day came to help with pruning and lumbering for a week, while the group of people on the estate was actually in mourning at the time.

My naturally shy self, is always probing first. I love meeting like-minded people, getting to know them and having 1-on-1 or 1-on-2 conversations. But I find group dynamics more difficult, I notice.

I have often heard during workshops/courses about personal development that I can claim my place. Even last night this came up briefly during a conversation with such a beautiful soul. I am allowed to have my place in the group. I can see that I am not showing myself. Not claiming a place at the table. Picking up the tasks that need to be done. Not because I like it, but because someone has to do it.

I hear conversations about courses related to tantra and massage, for example. Where you not only learn how to ‘do’ things yourself. But where you also are the ‘client’. Undergoing it yourself. And once again I realise how many things I don’t do because I don’t want to undergo it myself. That threshold is so high because I don’t want to ‘force’ others to have to touch my body. OR have to fulfil expectations that I might not be able to fulfil (e.g. healing or relieving pain).

For quite a few years, I have been walking with the thought that I should actually do something with my hands. After I fell down the stairs in 2010 and slightly ruptured my ankle ligaments and suffered a big bruise (I even had to chatter after it happened), 6 weeks later my hands initially started losing strength AND I lost feeling. As if some kind of numbness occurred. Something like when a body part ‘sleeps’. It doesn’t quite feel like part of me because the feeling is not complete. And a tingling takes place. At that time, I even found it difficult to put a tail in our daughters’ hair. After another couple of weeks, the strength returned more and more, but I have not regained full sensation and my hands continue to feel somewhat stiff and numb. The possibility of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome has been medically ruled out. And no other explanation has been found. My GP once managed to do a brilliant test to find out if I had loss of strength: I had to squeeze his hands, and e.g. push his hands outwards with my hands… And that went fine. And he determined that I had no loss of strength. I had to laugh hard: He didn’t even know how strong I was before that. What was he basing his conclusion on? Mister was a fairly fresh graduate and this was, according to him, THE exercise to establish this. A frame of reference was not necessary, according to him. (How indoctrinated can you be that you can’t see for yourself how trivial a test is if you don’t establish what you could do before then). But that aside.

In 2011, I got the opportunity to pursue training from work. The publishing house moved from Kampen to Utrecht and I was given a position in which I was anything but happy. As a non-ass-licker, I was demoted. Since I was eager to leave, I was allowed to choose an education. I hesitated greatly whether to do a coaching course, or something with REIKI or something similar. But I was the sole breadwinner and I couldn’t overcome the thought that my income would be uncertain. That I would then have to start a practice and start helping people and market myself that way… I found that far too scary.
So reason overcame and I started doing NIMA-B (Marketing Management, level 2, a study at EQF level 6, which is an HBO degree). And I managed to pass the practical and written exams in one go (at 40!). This resulted in me joining a new team within the publishing group where I worked. There, I was able to specialise in the field of email marketing and teach the online marketing colleagues of all publishing companies how to make money with email marketing. A role I quite enjoyed. I could shape my own job and activities. And that was great. Especially when email marketing became high on the agenda and people had to start getting sales through the publisher’s webshop.

But… the feeling that I could have chosen a different path and didn’t, has continued to gnaw. Because ultimately, that feeling came from uncertainty and not daring to trust a good outcome.

From 2016, I started learning more and more in terms of personal development. And my self-esteem and self-love grew. In 2019, I took another leap and pretty much dissolved my ‘money-blocks’. The limited beliefs around money and having too little money have partly to do with what we were told in our childhood. BUT… it also has to do with a lack of self-esteem.

Our financial situation improved. But when the opportunity arose to take a REIKI 1 course at the centre I preferred, I decided to get an answer through a pendulum. And that was a No. Leo did get a Yes, and it indeed turned out to be a good move for him. With what he learned there, he became an even more powerful energy healer.

In addition to REIKI, massage also emerged in recent years as one of the possible options I could do. Especially when it comes to intuitive massage. That seems like an amazing thing to be able to do. To make people feel wonderful. Yet I don’t do it. My heavier body, makes me more likely to touch people with more than just my hands. And I find that an unpleasant idea. Besides, a fear of ‘not being good enough’ naturally surfaces. What if I can’t do that at all. Or someone finds/didn’t like the experience at all?

Leo and I did a tantra massage workshop on one of our wedding anniversary together with 6 other couples. Since we always go to nude beaches, even went to naturist campsites, being naked is not a problem for me at all. Do I find myself beautiful? No, absolutely not. But this is the body I have. And I have to make do with it. And if someone else doesn’t want to look, they can just look in another direction. This evening was also about massaging your partner. NEVER EVER would I have considered being massaged by someone else. Then I would not have chosen this evening in any case. Touching another person? I thought that was terrifying at the time.

In 2021, I started Biodanza in Portugal. Biodanza made me show my feminine side more. AND… I largely overcame my diffidence to touch others and to be touched. Both men and women. Claire and Priya knew how to create a safe environment in which I could grow and blossom. And this was one of the most difficult things to give up when we left Portugal on April 1st this year. Since then, we have been little with people, except since we were in Friesland for the last 5-6 weeks. There, there was plenty of cuddling again. BUT… this is also always WITH clothes on.

Touching without clothes is a different story anyway. I think I have been massaged 2x in my life. 2x at a sauna. Once a hot stone massage by a man. Terrifying but wonderful. I do notice that I constantly have to tell myself to relax. And the last time was a massage that Leo and I got at the same time by 2 different people. The girl who did me thought for sure that firm people also need firm touch. I assumed she knew what she was doing. But my back hurt a lot for days after that.

I certainly can’t really relax during such a massage. I’m always in my head: depending on where the hands are, my head starts thinking about what that person should think. Both my head and my body bother me a lot in this.

Even at the tantric massage evening I find intimacy in the presence of others terrifying. That I did that massage at the time is a giant step. But as I said, I stay in my head and even then I have to keep reminding myself to relax.

I was at a women’s day recently. There was no programme, but expectations were set. None of it came true. In the afternoon, we were supposed to have a massage. But this turned out to be a tantric exercise where you put one hand on the Venus mound and one hand under the tail bone. Very little was explained. And at one point it was said that you should then say, ‘Come’. In my naivety still not understanding that you can come that way and thereby open your lower chakra.

A teacher of tantra was one of the participants and she had picked me to do the exercise with (I only discovered this afterwards). Hardly anything had been done on introductions. And NOTHING had been done to create a safe base.

I held my hands still. As the ‘chairman of the day’ had told me. For my afternoon partner, this was not good enough; she kept telling me how to do it. And I only had the idea that I needed to make her come. Since I had completely failed to understand the whole exercise and its purpose, it felt so wrong.

Fortunately, the ‘chairperson of the day’ saw that things were stiff with us and she intervened. The tantra teacher admitted that she always wants control. And her bad luck was that she had picked someone who is green as grass in this area. Had I known beforehand that this was on the afternoon programme, I would have NEVER gone. Even though the ladies were wearing their knickers. This was way too fast and totally not for me. So the tantra teacher did not need to ‘treat’ me either.

I do love it when I see women who are aware of their sensual bodies and their sexuality. Often they are immensely balanced and can greatly appreciate touch, from anyone.

Deep in my heart, I would like to be such a woman

But I also see that those women have a totally different body from mine. And although I realise and know that many do not find themselves or any part of themselves beautiful. There is a big difference between fat and thin. Not only in my perception, but also in the judgement others have of them.

Just yesterday, our daughter said, as she lay back against me for a while, that she couldn’t imagine a mother who was thin. That wasn’t nice to cuddle at all! And I must honestly say, my children have never been judgmental. They always thoroughly enjoyed my cuddles. And I can well imagine that cuddling with a slightly fuller person, is more comfortable than when two skinny bodies cuddle each other. Since I have never been like that, I don’t know that experience. However, I do now enjoy giving hugs, even if they last longer than the standard greeting.

Even before we had children, Leo always said I had those motherly hands. I hated that. I didn’t see myself as a mother at all and I wasn’t really happy with my chubby fingers. Nor am I a typical mother who loves being pregnant. I was happy that my body was mine again.

More and more I hear that I have a motherly energy. In Portugal, some people even gave me the nickname: Amma of the Algarve. Wow! That also came up yesterday. And honestly, no matter the age, often I feel a motherly love for someone.

Do these ‘motherly feelings’ have something to do with my shyness? Is a mother not allowed to be sexy.
Or should a ‘(big) MAMA” just be? My body looks more like that of one of those great fat African women. And with that tan added, I probably would have worn it with pride. But with my white skin, it looks like a ‘misfit’.

For years, I’ve been hoping to achieve that ideal picture. So far, it is not there and I keep myself small as a result. And after 3 days of group dynamics, today I am extra aware of this and withdraw. There is clearly still work to be done for me. And in this case, it’s not about losing weight. I have already lost more weight in my life than I weigh now. It’s not in that. It’s not in nutrition either. It’s in something else. And after every insight of ‘having to stay strong’ and letting go of that, it didn’t get better until now. Letting go of the knowledge of what is good and bad in terms of food is also another thing. Knowledge is also sometimes your enemy.

I had hoped to have cracked the getting-thin-code by now. And that I could have helped others with it. That would be my ideal scenario. And then not losing weight through a diet of course, but through that underlying reason(s). That still feels like an unfulfilled mission.

But apparently I still have something to learn from this body. And it seems that everything I want to do, I have to do with this body. And… when I think about it, that’s not surprising either. Being free under certain conditions is not freedom.

That bodily freedom, I do want to experience. So it looks like I need to learn to do that with this body, which although I have accepted, I don’t like. So if I can feel that bodily freedom, with this round body, that might be a ‘mission accomplished’.

Right now, I can only dread that. For now, that’s still a step too far. And that, too, is okay for now. Though I look forward to the day, when I have climbed this mountain too.

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