Thursday, July 23, 2009

Stumbling Through Middle Age

I have a friend who is entering middle age as I get closer to the end of it. We have many deep conversations about this stage of life. I think middle age is a time when all your emotional roosters come home to roost. Father Richard Rohr or someone else I have read or heard speaks of how a breakdown is often a break through in your life. Not everyone has a breakdown but many have some kind of cathartic experience that kind of fast forwards their spiritual growth. I have never really had a noticeable breakdown or anything I recognize as a cathartic experience. My spiritual growth has been more like a stone that becomes smooth from the endless flow of water passing over it. This type of transformation is so slow and imperceptible that most of the time it feels like nothing is happening at all. Most of my life I have been a strong person who has always been able to keep it together and from the outside I may seem to have no issues at all. It is only in recent years that I have been able to perceive some chinks in my armor. I have come to realize that I have needs that stem from a sense of not feeling loved. It is a need to feel special in someone's eyes. It is in recent years that I have felt a great need to be noticed, to feel loved, to be appreciated, to receive affection, and to make a difference in the lives of others. These are not exceptional needs. I suspect that many people feel like this. However, most of my life these needs have seemed unfulfilled. I grew up with parents who showed little emotion or affection. I never received any kind of compliments about who I was or what I did. This pattern has more or less continued within my current family. I'm not saying that there wasn't or isn't any love, affection, or emotion. I'm just saying it was and is rarely expressed. Within my family of origin I am the oldest of six siblings. As younger siblings came along I felt pushed further and further into the background. I know this was not done intentionally but subconsciously I felt less and less noticed. I think all of this has contributed to my Enneagram Nine personality. I say all of this believing there are people who do care about me. My reality, however, is that I rarely feel it. I don't really know what it would take for me to feel like I want to feel. My personality type has a deep need and desire to feel connected. Oddly enough I am usually able to see the connections in life but I rarely feel them. I believe this lack of connectedness contributes to my other feelings. Part of my continued journey through life is to attempt to resolve these feelings or at least make peace with them. Feelings and perceptions can be troubling things. A feeling or a perception is not necessarily reality. Of course, to the person having the feelings or perceptions, they certainly feel like reality.

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