November 12, 2020
As a therapist who works a lot with clients around reconnecting to their truest selves, I find that in order to have real connection with oneself we need to be honest about where we’re at and what’s actually going on. In order to have a different relationship with our parts, we need to get to know them and what they are actually saying to us and asking from us. In short, we need to be real and get honest.
I myself am a bit of an introvert, and I know that some of you reading this can resonate with that. I have a small group of friends, consider myself independent, and can be alone for a decent amount of time quite happily. And yet even for me, the shear lack of regular connection with other humans during this whole thing has been unsettling, and definitely at times has left me feeling lonely.
The more I reflected upon this, the more evident it became that connection is a fundamental human need. Now, this isn’t a new concept or truth, as we all know what happens to individuals who go extended time without human contact (such as prisoners in solitary confinement). But because our world has never experienced something like what we are now living through, it was previously only a conceptual truth and not a lived, experiential one for most of us.
I write this not to indicate that we all have been living without human contact like isolated prisoners, but to argue that perhaps genuine human connection is as fundamental to our survival as food and shelter, and is intrinsically important for our mental health and well-being.
If some of you have felt a bit of what I’m trying to describe when talking about this dis-ease or “off-ness” (the state in which things just feel “off”), than you may also reflect on the type of connections that we’ve been able to have as of late. Interactions through computer screens, and six feet apart, and with faces half covered, and without touch, and with cautious appraisal, and heightened anxiety. These “connections” are a far cry from raucous Thanksgiving dinners, and drinks out with friends, and familiar embraces, and playing with your friends kids, and so on and so on.
Think about the moments where you engage in conversation with someone and discover that they too are experiencing something similar to you and can resonate and empathize. The moments of silliness and laughter with a group of people that you feel safe enough to be yourself with. The shared experience of a concert, or movie, or worship service that allows you to know you are not alone and can revel in commonality.
These things are not just the “old normal” and therefore things that we long for because they’re familiar. These experiences and encounters are the stuff of life, and they are fundamental to how we find connection; to others, ourselves, and our place in the world.
Before this moment, perhaps you haven’t given this concept much thought and have been just rolling with the punches and keeping on keeping on. If so, and that’s genuine for you, then fantastic. If, however, this speaks to something within you that you didn’t quite know was there, perhaps now is the moment to check in with yourself and get honest. How are you, really?
I think many of us, out of our own sense of independence, or perhaps out of a need to always be “all together” for fear of what it would mean if we weren’t, neglect the reality of what’s really going on. We confidently say, “I’m ok” without ever checking to see if that is true. The reality of finding honest connection with others is that we first must be honest with ourselves. We can’t share that reassuring “I know how you feel” with a loved one if we aren’t honest with how we are feeling. We can’t receive support and encouragement when we need it if no one knows that we do. In order to be seen and known, we must be real, honest, and vulnerable about where we’re at and what’s going on.
It’s okay not to be okay, beloved. And if I can share a secret that I’ve learned from being with people in their reality session after session… NO ONE has it all together all of the time.
I encourage you to find the space to ask yourself how you really are, and maybe this post has served as a catalyst. I also encourage you to find someone who you can share that reality with, and give them the privilege of joining you with care.
If, however, you can’t find someone that you feel you can trust, or be safe, or fully yourself with to share your current truth, we at Repose would also love to provide that space for you. You were never meant to be alone or disconnected, and we are here to support you no matter what season you’re currently in.
Respect and love,
Kara Phelan MAMFT, RCC