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Lost and Found: A Journey to Unconditional Love




My job as a therapist has shifted in remarkable ways over time. My role used to be focusing on the problem, the pathology, the thing to fix. Implementing a protocol, a technique, to push the dis-order come into order.


But, my job is no longer that of a fixer, but of a finder.


A compassionate witness who has learned that the most joyful, creative, playful parts of you are longing to be found. But, have learned to play hide-and-seek.


These parts of self are often the young ones who, while seeking unconditional love, found nothing but conditions.


You are loved if….

You are held if…

You are worthy if….

IF.


They shapeshifted into what their parents, siblings, teachers, and cultures wanted them to be. And, along the way swallowed burdensome beliefs that never belonged to them -- but would become theirs to carry for a lifetime.


Unless, that is, they are found.


They are witnessed.


They are held in the gaze of true unconditional love.


It is there they tell us their stories.


It is there they unlock their secrets. Their hopes. Their dreams.


Their deeply unmet needs.


It is there we find a lifetime of pain that has been managed by creating a team of fierce protectors – parts of self who make sure to keep those little ones’ pain from seeing the light of day in hopes of redemption and resolution.


The over-achiever. The aggressor. The perfectionist. The procrastinator. The addict. The workaholic. The people pleaser.


The roles are endless.


Subpersonalities who also once had their own special purposes in our multidimensional psyches but were forced into working extreme roles they never intended to serve.


The cheerleader who became the critic. The gentle nudger who became the tyrant. The defender who became the abuser. The healthy distractor who became the dissociator.


And from this cast of characters -- of protector parts -- we inadvertently build a life.


One that is spent trying to redeem those young, burdened emotional parts by suppressing, overcoming, and forcing them into submission. A seemingly malicious – but actually loving -- intention by parts who want to meet one’s needs by locking the young ones away and efforting and pretending their way to love.


But, that isn’t love. So, it won’t ever lead to wholeness. Only more fragmentation and polarization.


From this place, clients usually reach out to me for therapy.


Souls journeying through a human life who have tried it this-way and that-way and every-way-in-between to just find joy and purpose but feel stuck in varying degrees of disillusionment, exhaustion, sadness, anger and fear.


They know there is more to life, but that something has been lost.


Or someone.


A journey into wholeness requires nothing short of all of you.


So, to create order in the dis-order we have to find who has been lost. We must get to know who has been protecting them. And, the truth is all of those answers are inside you. They are all part of you. You just need to know where to look for them.


When I developed a chronic illness, I had no idea that I had so many lost parts looking for me.


In fact, I didn’t even know the depth of what “me” meant.


But, illness became the most brutal, but wise, teacher who would point to the parts of me crying out for reconnection and integration. I didn’t know I had lived a life from parts of my psyche who were fiercely protecting me from pain. Who would do anything to keep me from ever experiencing those painful moments and traumas from my past again.


And, what a gift it was to see that in all that confusion and darkness that came with being brought to my knees in illness was a relentless invitation into unconditional love.


That intelligent fabric of the universe that (in my experience) feels like

Effervescent Golden Velvet Light.


A super-human quality that lends me to believe it is, in fact, not human at all.


More Spirit than Flesh.

But, regardless of its origins, it lives inside each of us. We only have to learn how to attune to it. To connect with it. To embody it.

From there, we learn that the one we’ve been looking for our entire lives is already here.

It lives in us, moves through us, and sustains us.

And, when I found that this love lived inside of me, I began to see how it lives inside us all. Even if we haven’t yet found the way to connect into it.

From that place of embodied compassion, curiosity and presence I found that all my parts were willing to speak to me. To share with me their stories of how they came to be, and how they perhaps need assistance. To point me in the direction of the little ones who had been lost and stuck in another time and place due to injury, trauma, and pain.

So, from that place of unconditional love, I learned that the game of hide-and-seek became more about finding and less about losing.

I began to saturate with love the parts of me that were easy to find compassion for—like this little 5 year-old girl in the picture (who I keep on my desk as I work with clients to remind me of the compassionate "Beth-ness" I easily see inside her).


But, before I could really get to know her I had to learn to love the parts of me who I wanted to reject—the parts who were hiding and protecting her in ways that were hard to acknowledge. The part of me who was harshly critical and judgmental to protect from shame and fear. Or, the part of me who after being sexually assaulted learned to dissociate and pretend. The part of me protecting from the terror of a violent childhood who learned to overcompensate with forceful bravery and willfulness. The part of me who people-pleased and betrayed myself and my needs to fit in. The part of me who sought perfection as a way to receive belonging.

But unconditional love….is without conditions.


There is no if.

There is now how.

There is no why.

There only IS.


So, just as a flower bud that is closed tight, I learned that so, too, was my traumatized system. Forcing it open would lead only to destruction. So, I had to lead with love, no matter the part who needed attention. And petal-by-petal I got to know the parts that comprised me as they unfolded with their stories. The beautiful, the ugly, the selfish, the greedy, the fearful, the weak, the needy. But as I learned to trust the wisdom of this internal system, I found the greatest treasures. A blossom of all-that-was-really-me. And what a beautiful creation it was.


The finding became a reckoning. A homecoming. A revival.


I found the little ones who I never knew were there. The 3 year-old who faced a broken home and felt abandoned, fear and despair. The 5 year-old who was terrified of school and worried herself sick. The 12-year old who faced violence at home and would hide and pretend. The 18 and 19 year-olds who were assaulted and learned to dissociate. The 20 year old who learned to be seen they had to be perfect and achieve.


The discovery was that these parts were not only hidden, but also not who I thought they were.


They had been holding beliefs, emotions—burdens—due to their circumstances. They held these in their bodies, their tissues, their energy fields. So much so that MY body started to cry out with dis-ease. But, I learned that they were not their burdens. They were so much more.


They were in fact JOY!

Spontaneity

Creativity

Playfulness

Peacefulness

Trust

Love.


And, like a tender, attentive parent I began to intimately connect with the young ones and the ones who protect them. We became like one big family -- but unlike any family I had ever been a part of. Instead, one with a leader at the head who exuded an unending supply of unconditional love. My True Self.


That supernatural, nearly other-worldly Self made of Spirit who could give to these parts with the peace, patience, kindness and gentleness that these little ones were starving and thirsting for. They found the antidote to their love starved state.


So, as I’ve learned to be the finder and lover of my own parts, I’ve deepened my ability as a guide to help others do the same.


No longer is my job about forcing an outcome to fix a problem in a predetermined number of sessions. But, now it is to open up to the natural unfolding of an internal landscape where treasures abound and wholeness is realized.


If you are breathing, you have hope to find this wholeness.


It is in you and all around you. And, it is waiting for the True Self you to step in and lead the way with love.

Start the journey. I assure you that you will be glad you did.


For more information about IFS (Internal Family Systems) I recommend reading “No Bad Parts” by Richard “Dick” Swartz (the founder of IFS)

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