We’ve been taught that frauds are not nice people. Frauds pull the wool over our eyes; they are counterfeit, claiming to be something or someone they aren’t. In my case I was a reluctant fraud. I fooled even myself, so unconscious was my justification for living the life I led.
This revelation came to me only this past week. I was on a retreat for gay men at Easton Mountain near Troy, NY. I attended a number of compelling workshops on spirit and life. But it was my conversations with James Dickson that zeroed in what had been motivating me and how misguided I had been for at least the last 25 years.
As always my story starts with wired as highly sensitive. That set the stage for my reactions to the world around me. I had feelings of disconnect and isolation as early as age four that kept me squarely in crisis mode. My deep empathy drew toward me a constant stream of emotions from around me. Relationships with peers felt threatening from the start and caused me to over-think everything.
Yet we humans are meant to live from our hearts. The beating heart of a human embryo is the first evidence of viability. Only when the heart forms does the brain stem then follow, springing forth from the stem cells of the heart.
Western societies since the 19th century have mostly disconnected themselves from the heart-centered approach. Today more than ever brain power dominates our culture. Like many I unknowingly separated my head and heart and allowed the former to take control. I shut down many of my feelings in order to cope.
Any criticism of me or my work triggered self-doubt, anger, depression and profound loneliness. I got my regular validation “fix” by being successful in school and behaving agreeably. Not feeling part of the world my peers traveled in, I created my own world. Though I had one or two kindred spirits along the way, by the time I was thirteen I yearned for more connection. But the next year my efforts were short-circuited by collective bullying by classmates. This set my heart back and pushed me further into my brain. By the end of the year I had shut down and began to compartmentalize my life.
My survival technique was very consciously to reject the tastes, activities, and interactions of my peers. I cocooned myself in the illusion of total independence. I didn’t need them. I turned to God and religion since good, religious boys get to heaven. Though my God was never mean or angry, he didn’t seem to care that I felt so useless and alone.
Unfortunately my parents had shared their childhood traumas with me, my brother and sister, and hinted at even more horrible experiences they had had. We became their emotional caretakers and so I felt I could not burden them with how unloved and empty I felt. Their belief that life and the world were dangerous places only fed my paranoia.
When I thought of becoming a priest my head was in the clouds. I felt lifted into another realm where I would have value, a purpose in life, status, a role that would set me apart from everyone else. I studied hard, earned multiple degrees, published, and tried to be a powerful spokesman for the church.
But still I encountered mixed messages. I looked for divine love and acceptance and found a very human church that I didn’t want or like. I continued to feel alienated from my peers and complaining that the diocese was not valuing my talents and skills. After several personal experiences of the dysfunction in the church I began losing faith in God and in humanity. I grew increasingly cynical. I called it being “realistic”.
I had enjoyed preaching, teaching and leading worship. They were venues for my intelligence and wide breadth of knowledge. They offered me a chance for attention. Look at me; listen to me! I’m a spokesman for the Truth! It was a way of rising to the top of the pile and trying to undo the bullying. Now I could tell others what to do while still imagining myself to be a kind of hero. New programs and projects fed my inner passion for validation, but I became bored once I mastered aspects of my work. Without something new on the horizon I felt empty, tired, depressed, and anxious. And so I learned to numb my feelings, especially with television and a very private interior world.
After 32 years of this narcissistic struggle I snapped. I left the ministry I thought I loved and never looked back. In time I believed I was on the road to reinventing myself as a life coach who could quietly help others move forward in their lives. But I had to move forward into my heart.
Dickson helped me to hit bottom and begin the climb back up. He guided me into an unprecedented depth of self-revelation and enabled me to see my upside-down emotions. My passion often had been rooted in anger and long-standing resentment. Righteous indignation and pride had motivated me. Fear of financial insecurity had dominated me. I was reluctant to ask for help for fear of being judged. I had sought my own convenience, always calculating along the way how I might meet my needs with deliciously subtle passive-aggression. I had believed that the universe owed me a life for the abuse, misery and pain I had experienced. I had been envious of others and played the victim so that I could delude myself into thinking my judgments and stories about them were true. I had even tried to manipulate God. It’s no wonder why I hadn’t felt his love.
I have been a reluctant fraud, trapped in a mind enveloped in concentric walls of logic that were supposed to protect me from pain. Though my brain served me well in many ways, I now know and feel deeply that I must depose my tyrannical brain from its throne and release my imprisoned heart to take its rightful place as my true spiritual guide.
These revelations are like a five ton weight lifted off my chest. I share them with you because they are universal human experiences. They are radical truths about a life of contradiction and ambiguity, lived inauthentically and unconsciously. Where are you, my heart? Lead me to rediscover faith, hope, and love!.
Contact me email@example.com
I feel like, reading this, that you have an understanding of how you’ve been living, and a kindof an idea somehow of how you now want to be guided to build your new life.
But it also feels like that’s where it all stopped, and you’re sitting wondering “Ok, now what?” It’s a very lonely place to be. That rebuilding to a new model can be difficult, and it’s easy to slip into old grooves. I trust you have resources in place to help with mapping out how to live life from this new set of criteria and to enable you to do so.
It can be wonderful, and confusing, as wonderment often is. Sending love to you on your journey.
Thank you Ted. You have named precisely where I am in this moment. I have support and help and realize the uphill climb it will be to reorient my way of living and listen to a heart that has often been neglected. I need to learn its language and how it tugs at me when it has a message for me. My default is my brain and it will require a lot of discipline for me to put it in its proper place and order!
The healer Rosalynn L. Bruyere used to say that the idea was that you followed your heart’s desire, using your mind to figure out how to achieve that. Most of us let the mind override the heart. It can be challenging to remember which one should be in charge!
And then there are the times when the heart says “Let’s do this!” and the mind says “It’ll never work!”, and you go with the heart and somehow, magically against all the odds that you could come up with, it does.
Love it! Thank you Ted.
Thanks for sharing your heart, Michael. Pretty awesome experience, for real.
You came to Easton Mountain ready for transformation. Your description above makes it very clear – you wanted to define your life in your own way. You have done that now. Your spirit created the possibility – and the many men at Easton Mountain nurtured your soul’s desire.
Whatever you create next will be as miraculous as changing lead into gold.
Why do I suggest this? Simple physics – for over 40+ years you’ve been making a rock grow so large and heavy that it was bigger than you at times.
Suddenly, you let go of it. It isn’t that you are ‘just’ lighter — that rock is rolling down a hill towards the pricks that laughed and scorned you and every other believer trying to find their way.
And that rock is going to do some damage. Because carrying that boulder for so long has made you one hell of a strong man.
You have found the true FAITH that you sought for so many years. The FAITH you wanted is now yours. Your faith is knowing that ABSOLUTELY NOTHING is worth the torment and punishment that people put others through — and you give hope to others to NOT REPEAT your mistake.
BE THE SPIRITUAL GUIDE that young men and women seek out — let them hear what is the true passage of a human soul in this world, before they ENTER INTO A COVENANT with their eyes not opened.
You have learned through humility the power of SURRENDER. You surrendered your will … finally, after all these years. You are now open to doing it a different way. Great place to be. And your reward? Not a thing. Not a damn thing. But without this surrender, the next steps could not happen.
And what happens next?
It is your story to write, though you asked me for my notes to add to your first page — so here are 12 words that I got as a list from the author Alan Cohen — I love his quotes and amphorisms (you can subscribe and get them, or read his books).
I don’t remember what he called the list of twelve, but I’m calling it:
TWELVE POWERFUL WORDS NEEDED FOR SPIRITUAL FULFILLMENT
The twelve words are originally by Alan Cohen. I put it into a narrative to help explain the meaning of some of the words — though I may have made matters worse. I tinkered around, and had to stop. Here is my viewpoint.
TWELVE POWERFUL WORDS NEEDED FOR SPIRITUAL FULFILLMENT
Know that you are always at CHOICE (1);
to believe that you didn’t have a choice is a lie.
Believe in the lie, and you begin to not take
responsibility for your actions. And soon, you lose your life.
Master the skill of taking
appropriate ACTION (2).
You begin to develop a trust in your skill
when your actions bring you towards BALANCE (3).
Watch for and prepare for correct CYCLES (4)
before stopping or starting any part of
‘the vision you have been holding.’
— once the cycle starts
(like a surfer taking a wave towards the beach),
‘Trust the PROCESS (5)’ (quote by author unknown)
and take with you the only currency you have in this world, which is
your INTEGRITY (6).
Integrity is a testament to the basic need that each of us must be whole and complete.
“Those that proclaim they have integrity do not.
Holding integrity is like holding a heart beat (similar to holding your breath).
It can’t be done while you are alive.” (~ Dickson)
A level of integrity is needed before
one can provide transformational healing
to others through the power of COMPASSION (7).
Let go of all EXPECTATION (8). All of it. Every bit of it.
Once you let go of it, you aren’t there yet.
Try again to let go of your expectations.
What you expect your life to be, how you expect to be treated,
the inalienable rights you expect to have and exercise.
You could spend a lot of time here.
Finally, you SURRENDER (9). Sometimes because you just can’t go another step.
Sometimes because you have tried every other way possible and they didn’t work.
When you get here, do nothing. Be present.
With PRESENCE (10) Attend instead to this spontaneous and arising moment.
What happens will exceed all your expectations, always.
The mind is completely incapable of holding the quality of fulfillment we derive from a single experiential moment.
When we live by these words, the ultimate end is a world of UNITY (11). To know this as truth, is to know true FAITH (12).
Dickson, thank you. Words fail.
Happily, I am “changing my practice” pretty well upon my return. I am engaging. So good to be able to observe the patterns that come with being 5w4 and to make choices. I am off to P Town for the week and I am happy to be the person that I am. I have begun with The Positive Enneagram – although I am being aware of when my fiveishness needs to do something else! Thank you and I hope you are well. Patrick
Thank you for being so vulnerable and transparent. That is the first step toward healing.Some call it “facing our demons”, “coming out of denial”.Either way , it reqiures a deep honest look into ourselves.As I know…………. Living years of deception , and than , facing the “truth about ourselves”, can be difficult. But what I also know….the seeking searching heart- will find answers!To thine own heart be true,Listen to your heart….are not just nice sayings……..They are the “WAY”. and they will lead you to the place of Life, Peace, Happieness, and Love.
I believe you have had an awakening, you have shifted from brain to Heart! You have found courage to attend the workshop, you have listened to your heart to be fully present during the workshop to arrive at some other place… Amazing.
The best thing you have done now is to write this blog, to share your heart’s Journey… it is a journey it is not over, it is unfolding as you write, as you go about your daily life.
Dickson, comments shine a light on your path, choose to use the tools there…
Beautifully done. I look forward to reading your progress!