Sessions With Self: Volume 5
It’s here in all the pieces of my shame— Rainer Maria Rilke
That now I find myself again.
I yearn to belong to something, to be contained
In an all-embracing mind that sees me. . . .
One of my oldest friends was just married. We’ve been friends since the third grade and have been through a lot together.
For a long time, we were inseparable. Back in high school and our early 20s, if you thought of one of us, you automatically thought of the other.
We were frick and frack. Two peas in a pod. Peanut butter and jelly.
We are still close today, but in recent years, the peanut butter became chunky for lack of a better metaphor.
10-years ago, it would’ve been assumed I’d be the best man at his wedding. But that wasn’t the case.
Rationally, I understood why he didn’t choose me. It actually would’ve felt disingenuous if he did. However, I couldn’t help to feel a tinge of sadness at his wedding as his actual best man gave the toast.
Another close friend didn’t pick me. And while that too made perfect sense, I was crushed.
I’ve always had a great relationship with my wife’s brother: light-hearted and respectful, engaging in the typical on the surface banter about work, business, music, movies, etc.
Then their younger sister became engaged and her husband quickly became the new favorite brother-in-law. At least, that’s how my ego saw it. The two of them were closer in age and both sports junkies, so they immediately hit it off.
Again, it made complete sense, but I couldn’t help but feel threatened, unworthy, and unimportant.
I’m nobody’s “best man”.
This is part of a running narrative within the back of my mind that feels slighted and overlooked.
It’s easy to chalk this up as a shattered ego that always craves to be recognized as the most important person in the room. But that’s too easy of an explanation.
It goes deeper than “look at me, I’m the man” bravado.
A bruised ego is nothing more than the surface area to a more painful wound pointing to a universal set of unmet needs.
It’s only the scab to a spiritual injury. But if what we seek is spiritual growth, then we must go deeper. As Rumi says:
“The wound is where the light enters.”
Here’s what has helped me uncover the real wound and what my soul is actually longing for.
Investigation is the key to getting to the bottom of any hurt. Start by asking yourself these two questions:
For any desire or urge… anytime you are frustrated, angry, or not getting what you want, always begin with that.
When you get an answer, ask these questions again using that answer. And again. Keep drilling down. If you keep asking questions, the real need you are seeking will become apparent.
By exploring these questions, I find that the pattern of being “nobody’s best man” points to a more fundamental, universal yearning: to be seen, heard, and valued.
And if I go even further, I end up at the last stop on the train: the simple need to be loved. This is where we all end up when we walk the spiritual path and take the time to do the uncomfortable inner work.
Underneath every bad mood or hurt feeling, if you pause and examine closely you’ll notice there is some sense that you feel you are falling short. Investigate this with:
This is the trance of unworthiness Tara Brach refers to in her work. It is our inclination to turn on ourselves when life doesn’t go how we want.
When I investigated this question, it was apparent that underneath my bruised ego were feelings of guilt and regret for not being a better friend.
Part of the stories we tell ourselves as a result of the same repeated shots to our ego is because we have to face some hard truths about ourselves:
After years of doing this inner work, sometimes the answer to these questions becomes the hardest pill to swallow.
As I mentioned before, at the root of every hurt stems an innate need to be loved. Here are a few ideas to consider:
Being the “number one” friend, brother, sister, son, or daughter sounds great. But it has nothing to do with being loved.
Just because my friends didn’t pick me as their best man, doesn’t me they don’t love me and value me. They can absolutely still love me in their unique way. It’s up to me if I choose to recognize that love.
Take responsibility for the state of all your relationships. Own your actions and acknowledge where you need to grow but don’t let this awareness comprise your value and lovability.
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