Shapeshifters Anonymous Part 1

Shapeshifters are not just in science fiction.  They are here in real life.  And if you are reading this, there’s a chance you may be one of them.

Before I write another word, I am going to re-introduce myself.  Hi.  My name is Dana.  And I am a Shapeshifter.

Welcome to Shapeshifters Anonymous. 

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Whew.  That feels better.  I have been circling this blog entry for weeks now.  I knew it was the next subject but I couldn’t seem to get to it.  I’d be all set up to write and it just wouldn’t come.  Initially, the idea had been so clear.  It came so fiercely.  But as time went by, I started second-guessing myself.  I started slowing down.

Shapeshifting?  Who wants to hear about Shapeshifting? 

It can wait.

So I started looking at my list of blog topics again (yes, people, there is a list!) to see if something else called out to me.  Hmmm.  It didn’t.

This is when the ‘Evolved Me’ would usually say, “Dana, have you considered you might be resisting this?  Have you thought this subject might be a little too close to home?  Are you eating all that chocolate because it might just be too revealing?”

Problem was, ‘Evolved Me’ had clearly gone to Palm Springs for the weekend and I, on my own, just wasn’t getting it.

So I waited.  And tried to be gentle with my troubled little self. Until she returned from the desert and together, we confronted the ONE THAT WOULD NOT WAIT.

So let’s get to it.

As defined by the Oxford English Dictionary (courtesy of my British husband) a Shapeshifter is “a person or being with the ability to change their physical form at will.”

As a kid, I loved the idea of shapeshifting.  I remember a character in Space 1999 (Anybody?!) who was a Shapeshifter and I thought that was cool.  She could morph into anyone she wanted.  What a fantastic power.  Almost as good as flying.  I secretly wanted to be like that.

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What I’d give to time travel back to that girl with the Dorothy Hamill haircut and tell her – YOU SECRETLY ARE LIKE THAT!

I say secretly because I don’t think anyone knew.  I was very confident – especially as a teenager.  I seemed very self assured.  But that girl wasn’t really me.

She was a form of me.  A Shape I took in order to be okay in this world, to be safe.  From an early age, I learned that achievement would get me far.  We were a family of achievers.  I learned how to jump through hoops.   I learned how to get love and approval.  I learned how to work the system.  And I was good at it…

For a while.

But it was exhausting.  And the real me wanted some daylight.

If I could have just kept her buried, it all would have turned out fine.  But she would not keep quiet.  She would not be still.  This girl was going to be heard and I was going to have to deal with the consequences.

Problem was, like a lot of us (especially women), I had dual signals running through my energy system.  I so wanted to be myself and follow my own calling.  But at the same time, I needed to please that Authority Figure that kept showing up in my life.  That seemingly powerful person who I had to please so I could be okay.  Usually it was a man.  But sometimes it was an intense or controlling woman.

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I was so allergic to the type.  I wanted nothing to do with them.  So pleasing sometimes showed itself in me as rebellion.  But at the end of the day, as different as they seemed, pleasing and rebellion were two sides of the same coin.  Neither made me the center of my own universe.  Whether I was pleasing or rebelling, it was always about someone else.

Underneath it all, the ‘Pleaser’ and the ‘Rebel’ both need to be approved of to be okay.  They do it in different ways but the root is the same.  I was adept at taking on both roles.  One day I could be sweetly manipulative and the next I could be angry and blaming.  If I could just manage the moods of the cast of Authority Figures who were always showing up in my life, then maybe I would be okay.  Or maybe, more importantly, I could finally be free of them.

But as soon as I vanquished one, another would slip through the revolving door to take its place.  And the pattern would start all over again.

It was no fun.  And the world was turning out to be a very unsafe place.  I couldn’t please him and I couldn’t shake him.  This imaginary Authority had never given me permission to love and approve of myself.  That was his job.  He decided if I was worthy of being loved.  He decided if I was good enough.

I see this so clearly in hindsight.  I understand that for a multitude of reasons, I did not feel like I was allowed to take the reins of my own life.  And that created a lot of frustration and pain.  And a lot of feeling stuck and getting nowhere.

Finally, I realized I had to change and choose myself first. I had to be the one to decide if I was lovable or good enough.  And that meant being authentic. That meant I had to be real. That meant I was going to have to give up the Shapeshifting.

It’s an ongoing recovery.

Funny thing, the more I show up authentically and set that daily intention for my life, the less I see of that old Authority Figure.  He just doesn’t come around much anymore.

And when he does and triggers my old need to please (or rebel), I take a breath and say, “there will be none of that today.”  If I start to feel like I want his approval – if I feel myself wanting him to give me a gold star, I take a step back.  I push away from the bar.

It’s the deal I have made with myself.  I’m the only one who gets to give me a gold star now.

 

This has been part of my story of Shapeshifting.  I call this Part I because intuitively, I know there are more pieces to come  (when they are ready).   If you feel like sharing a Shapeshifting experience, please do.  Anonymously or not.  We are all in this together.

 

Website Remorse

Maybe you’ve been there.  You’ve had this little business for a while and everybody says, “Why don’t you have a website?” “How do you expect anyone to find you if you’re not on-line?”

Well, I had an easy answer for that.  People find me as they need me.  Word of mouth is just fine for me.  It all happens in divine time.  I don’t need to put myself out there. I don’t need for people to actually know what I do.

And besides, what I do can sound a little weird.  Not to me.  Not to my friends and clients who understand it.  But what about those other people?  You know, those facebook people you haven’t seen in 20 years or that relative who has no idea about the real you.  Did I really want to be seen by them?

I couldn’t deny the possible answer in all of this. Maybe, just maybe, I didn’t want to be found at all.

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So when the knock inside my head finally became loud enough and I decided grudgingly to start contemplating a website name, all the ones I liked were already taken.  That Go Daddy moment was definitely not working out for me.  Anything that sounded remotely like me just wasn’t available.

I was beginning to lose hope.

And I was beginning to feel relieved.  There were no website names.  Great.  I could retreat.  I could contract.  I could quit this whole enterprise – who needs the 21 st century anyway?  Maybe expanding out into the world and showing people who I really was wasn’t such a great idea after all.

I could just go back inside my hole.  What a relief.  There’s color TV in there.

Then I typed in three little words:  Showing Up Authentically.  Oh, dear.  It worked.  It was available.

And I was screwed.

Of course, I didn’t know that at first.  At first, I thought – terrific, hell yeah.  That’s the perfect name for my website.  I believe in those two things above everything else:  showing up everyday and being authentic.  It’s the combination that has changed my life.  I bought the domain name immediately.  No hesitation.  I signed on the dotted line.  I was overjoyed.

Until the next morning when I woke up with buyer’s remorse and a bad “oh shit, do I really have to show up authentically” hangover.

Now, I should put in a disclaimer here.  I’ve gotten pretty good at showing up authentically.  I work at it.  I challenge myself.  I’m a girl who can really feel her feelings.

But let’s not kid ourselves.  Showing up Authentically can be a tall order.  In the light of day, I was becoming more and more aware of those dark corners inside that I didn’t want anyone to see.  I barely showed them to myself.  And what, now I was going to have to BLOG about them.  Oh, crap.

After a little anxiety and a little hysteria, I sat down and had a little talk to myself.  Dana, I said, You believe in this stuff.  On a daily basis, this stuff changes your life for the good.  I believe that helping others live their own most honest lives is a great calling. So what are you so scared of?

That’s when I realized the website name was perfect.  Because we’re always a work in progress.  By calling my website Showing Up Authentically, I’d have no excuses. I’d have to show up authentically (or at least try) even in the hard places, even in the shame places, even in the places I don’t want to share.  But those places are real and valid and inform who I am – so far.  So that’s okay.  I can live with that.  And as we get to know each other, I’d like to gently suggest that you can, too.

Thanks for reading my first post.  I’ve got lots of thoughts and ideas and practices that I plan on sharing. I have launched a Showing Up Authentically facebook page and I’d love you to come visit.  Okay, strike that inauthentic statement.  Rather, come by, check it out if you like.  Oh, did I just say the word LIKE?  Ugh.  Clearly, authentically, I’m going to have to warm up to this!

To being real,

Dana