I thought, that with all my years of writing love letters—for me, for my book—for this blog, that this process had been fully explored, but OMG! Writing this is kicking my ass.
Maybe because there is so much my body and my heart are trying to process right now. Maybe because there is so much I just don’t understand. So in honor of myself, my family and my country, I am going to practice staying open.
I am open to this deep sadness spilling out of me. I am open to this burning rage. I am open to this glimmer of hope.
I am open to the uncomfortable, vulnerable, scary feeling of not knowing. Because I don’t know. And I will allow this opening and all this feeling to move through me and heal me through my radical, uncompromising acceptance of it.
“There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”
— Leonard Cohen
There is a part of me who breaks my heart—she is harsh and holds impossibly high standards. Can find fault in pretty much anything. Even when I do something “right,” she wonders how I could have done it better. That may be the theme, the never-ending game of self-improvement. Because her wrath is harsh and unforgiving, (and always in the name of helping me) I find that I am confined to an ever-shrinking box of mute existence as I try to avoid her wrath.
I have heard that she is part of my very nature; we Virgos are known for our perfectionism and critical nature, especially with regard to ourselves. Times two for me. I’m a double Virgo thanks to my birth time, day and location.
I am repulsed by her. Triggered when I see her in others. I want to be different. And there’s the rub. It’s a trick. The very nature of the Virgo (and the ego), when I choose to only see this part of myself as who I am, becomes my suffering. I am who I am and who I am is someone who is always trying to fix myself. I become the dog chasing its tail. Though I suspect the dog is having more fun.
My 15-year-old is a Virgo and I watch with sadness sometimes as I see these qualities in him. And yet, he is one of the kindest, wisest, soulful people I know. His kindness can be hidden by what our cultural expectation of kindness looks like. But it runs deep and true. And because of those cultural expectations, I sometimes lose sight of it. He is a beautiful mirror and teacher for me.
Thing is, I’m pretty sure it’s not just us Virgos who engage in these games of self-hate.
So how do I embrace this part of me, the perfectionist, the critical one and stop trying to change her or rise above her? Transcending is a lovely idea, but is not sustainable if it means stepping over or denying a part of ourselves. (Trust me. I have tried.)
Breath by breath. I invite her into the open, which can only be done when I am willing to let go of my judgement of her. I wrap my arms around her, tell her I love her. I see her. I hear her. She is scared and trying to help, to keep me safe. Ironically, she is also trying to help me, escape me. So first I must acknowledge her.
Yes. I have some perfectionist tendencies and yes I can be hard on myself (and this can translate into some pretty high expectations for those I hold closest to me).
Second, I look into unlimited possibilities for interpreting this information. Remember a shift in perspective is a miracle. How else might I open up to seeing this part of me?
Yes. She is discerning and has excellent taste. She is deeply soulful. She really knows how to get shit done. Yes. She likes things just so. So what.
Time to get curious.
Yes. She is here to serve me. What does she need, what is she wanting to reveal?
So finally, I write her a love letter.
My dearest one,
I see you and I hear you. Even though I do not always choose you. I understand that you care deeply and want to help. What a gift you are! Uncomplainingly suffering a world of incompetent fools. You rock.
Seriously. I love your persnickety nature. Of course you like it when things are just so—who the hell doesn’t!
I am here, I am with you. Always.
Bonus points for humor. No need to take ourselves personally! There is a prophecy by the elders of the Hopi Tribe that is quite relevant now. One of my favorite lines, “At this time in history we are to take nothing personally, least of all ourselves, for the moment we do, our spiritual growth and journey come to a halt.” You can find it in full here.
And so my friends it is time, if you are up for a little fun, to write yourself a love letter. What part of yourself is calling to be embraced?
Please, comment, question, share your love letter. When we come together in community, the love we give ourselves, we give to all of us. When we can show up and heal even a tiny bit of ourselves, those who have been gifted to witness are also healed.
With great admiration,
4 thoughts on “Embracing the Critic”
wonderfuly open and thought provoking post which is clearly underwritten by an authentic search commissioned by your soul. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and your insights, sincere regards, Barry
Hello Barry. I am so pleased to connect with you! Thank you for your kind words. I just read some of yours and find myself smiling in delight. What a wonderful practice we share.
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Hello Wendy, what we share is the fuel of awakening which in essence is the heartbeat of being and of seeing and of sensing and of loving and all that that is, is just what it it is, and what it is, is the energy of all things and everything, Namaste
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