She stumbled onto the beach in a haphazard way. The cool moist sand squished between her toes, but the sensation didn’t have its typical playful feel. The sun was getting low and the breeze was whipping at her big, floppy shirt. She was not there to gaze at the mesmerizing sea in reflection, nor to revel in the beauty of the patterns in the surf. These satisfying pastimes, her usual choice, were nowhere in her thoughts. Tonight was about the screaming fog inside her head.
Everything was in a whirl; pain, sadness, anger, shock, disappointment, fear, confusion, and then, more hurt. Just when she sensed that one thought might be coming together in a cohesive shape, it swirled away, draining her focus. As she meandered closer to the breaking waves, her footsteps became heavier, though not any more sure of a direction. She wanted to pound the hurt away, to release this brooding monster from within, to make it all disappear so she could return to living. It didn’t happen, not that night.
This woman (myself) was caught in a cycle, a very damaging one.
It left her feeling powerless.
In her relationship there was a huge disconnect. On this evening her internal storm muddled the pain and misunderstanding into a debilitating confusion. With hands on hips she stomped away at the wet mounds left behind by sand crabs. Pacing and circling, her behavior may have been amusing to an onlooker, but it was tortuously serious to her present situation. Nothing made sense. How could she explain herself? How could she be heard? She felt invisible. And still, the stabbing pain of rejection and isolation (though she couldn’t identify at the time) prohibited her from deeper introspection. The habit, as always, was to pray and cry until it subsided ‘enough’ and then just pick up where she had left off. So, after perching on a damp bench until the first stars began to emerge, she felt the tsunami inside subside. It was time to collect herself, retrace her path, and emerge on the home front as a settled beast. The storm had been harnessed and compartmentalized, not defeated, not truly addressed, but squelched enough to be human again. But, sigh…
Was this really living?
If I could go back to that woman, all those years ago, there are a few things I’d do and share. Although I’d love to put my arm around her and tell her, “it’s going to be okay” I know at that point she would not have believed me. And, it seems so natural to call her and set up a coffee date, but even that would not have been affective. She didn’t think anyone cared. And, on an even scarier note, she wasn’t truly caring for herself, so receiving love and understanding from someone else was almost impossible.
To silence the screaming and disperse the fog we’d need to create a very safe space. In this place acceptance was guaranteed. Honor was a lifestyle. Hope was a friend. Dreams were real, with do-able steps. Freedom and fulfillment were the norm. And, we’d do this by embracing courage as the garment of choice. In that peaceful yet vibrant setting, I would ask her an important question. This question would be a game changer. It would challenge her. It would comfort her. It would change her. This question would identify her values. It would speak of her gifts and destiny. It would be a sign of her contribution to the world. And, although she may not have known the answer immediately, I’d promise her that together, we could find it.
The question: What. Do. You. Need?
It’s true, that seems primal and faintly ridiculous. Any adult is fully cognizant of their needs, right? And, as adults we’re completely able to express them in a way that is clear, aren’t we? Don’t we fully respond to each other’s needs, so that comfort is restored and a closer connection is achieved… ummm, not so much. Therefore, let’s go back to the starting block.
“Hey there, you half-crazed woman, stomping in circles on the beach. Imagine you can truly listen to your heart. Let the whole world stop for a moment. Yeah, just slow it down. You are safe. You can think and feel with no pressure to be a certain way. Now, take a deep breath. Close your eyes and relax. You are accepted. You are loved. You are precious. You are brilliant, bold and beautiful. Look inside, to that deep, inner place. What’s going on in there? Nope, no… there’s no fear. It’s okay. Look again, you got this. With all the care and attentiveness that you’d shower on a precious newborn babe, gaze with love upon yourself. Dear, dear dazzling jewel, oh so valuable, please see your heart. With tenderness and affection listen in closely. What do you need?”
I’m guessing a whole torrent of words would have come rushing out. Some would have been feelings. Some would have been descriptions, recounting experiences. But slowly and lovingly we would have discovered those overlooked needs. This is where it starts. This is how healing begins. This is what makes communication grow and relationships thrive. Your thoughts, feelings and needs matter. Let’s do this together.
The true you wants to live out loud. The true you wants to be heard.
This one tool will keep you in touch with yourself and help you to navigate safely in relationships. By listening to your heart and identifying your needs you will never again be trapped in a screaming fog.
Can you identify with this feeling? Have you also experienced such deep emotion and the need to be heard? What’s your story? Please share.