When I was 5 years old I went camping. I don’t really remember the actual camping part but I do remember the car ride back to the house and that’s because I had to pee.
I was sitting in the back seat of the car playing when the urge hit me. The simple solution would’ve been to tell the man driving that I needed to go to the bathroom but that’s not what happened. Something strong and powerful inside me said that if I did he would get mad.
So I held it in and did everything I could not to have to pee. My little legs shook back and forth, up and down, side to side, as I desperately tried to hold it in.
When I couldn’t stand it any longer I picked up a foam cup that was on the floor next to me and pee’d in it. Problem solved!
I pee’d in the cup, on the cup, on my hand, and all over the floor. It was everywhere. I made a mess but I was also very much relieved.
When I shared this story with my mentor he pointed out something specific. He said in that moment I was afraid to be authentic. He said in that moment I didn’t trust that it was okay to be me. He was right.
Something similar happened to me last week when my wife and I were out on a date. When our Uber driver picked us up to go home it was 85 degrees outside, all of the windows in their car were down, and the AC wasn’t on.
I wanted to say hey it’s warm outside could you please put on the air-conditioning but I didn’t. I was afraid the driver would get angry at me so I didn’t say a word.
Instead I sat there uncomfortable and I blamed the driver (internally) for how I was feeling. I was upset that they had put me in the position of having to say something to get my needs met. How dare they! When we got home I quickly gave the driver a poor review.
Saying something to the driver would’ve been the simple solution but in the moment, much like when I was five, I didn’t trust that it was okay to do that. I didn’t trust that it was okay to be me.
Those of us with childhood trauma sometimes have a hard time speaking up for ourselves. We don’t want to rock the boat so we go with the flow even if means being uncomfortable.
The problem is when we do this we fall out of alignment with our inner truth. It’s like saying yes to something when you really want to say no.
When we do this we are reacting to old wounds being reactivated and our unmet needs grow into anger or resentment. Then we blame the other person for how we are feeling which is exactly what I did with the Uber driver.
People aren’t mind readers. If we need something we need to be vulnerable and speak up. It’s a daily practice.
I wish I had said something to the driver but I didn’t and that’s okay. In fact I love the side of me that didn’t say anything because it’s an opportunity for growth and I’m grateful for that. Next time I’ll do my best to say something.
I’m going to keep stepping into my discomfort and asking for what I need. At the same time I’m going to work at worrying less about what you think of me because that’s none of my business.
Zachary, The Conscious Father