The Art of Being

Identity 

By Deborah Chandler, Ph.D.
Posted 3/6/21

How do I know who I am? The first influences were the family. I embodied the obedient child, desperate for the conditional love available. In those years, the me you could encounter was the …

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The Art of Being

Identity 

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How do I know who I am? The first influences were the family. I embodied the obedient child, desperate for the conditional love available. In those years, the me you could encounter was the projection of my parents idealized child. Adorable, crocheted into knots of acceptability.

I submerged my being in silent depression. Terrified of what wasn’t pliable and obedient, I raged toward suicidal destruction to vanquish the impudent devil within. In my early twenties, I gave up the expectation of others and was left bereft, hollowed out, shamed at my core. I failed—to meet expectations. But am I? Could I be?

I had one secret consolation. I danced. I danced to live, to allow my being to be alive. I’ve spoken with other women who also found solace and confirmation of their being through the silent world of dance. Behind all the discipline of formalized dance, lurks the uninhibited, sexual, wild child who finds a secret embodiment of the unacceptable.

Dance revealed a truth about myself that took years to accept into my non-dance being. 

Human development follows two arcs. One arc is the outer arc of moving from untamed baby to civilized adult. The second arc in the inner journey to the core of being.

There is no way to stabilize ourselves on the path of outer conformity. The rigors of this outer path are a constant drain on our being. There is never enough stuff, enough success, enough love to relieve us of the burden of proving our value.

The inner arc offers respite and wonders. To travel this arc requires devotion to an ideal and courage to face our inner doubts. My own inner journey has taken me to many therapists and teachers. I’ve learned from each. I’ve had the good fortune to leave most before the path got perverted into someone else’s journey, before becoming a fixture in another’s gratification.

At the same time, I’ve had the good fortune to settle down into a path that offers renewal and inspiration without re-creating the outer arc of subjugation. We are susceptible to teachers and flim-flamers who promise easy access to our core. We need great discernment not to be deluded by quick answers and easy adulation. Am I a bauble for another’s ego, or am I shining in my own light?

When I traverse my inner arc, I encounter the light within my own being. I transcend my history of suppression and expand my capacity for love. Sometimes I fear the engagement and get side-tracked. But my courage grows as I rely on the inner arc to take me to my own mesmerizing core. May we all meet in the light.

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