turning your back on your truth

Jillian Arsenault — November 8th, 2022


Turning your back on your truth

Even for a moment

Is too high a price to pay

For the temporary comfort of fitting in.

These words came to me during my morning meditation and hit me hard.

I'm familiar with my survival pattern of abandoning my truth to keep someone’s love and safety.

What I wasn’t aware of was how pervasive and all-consuming it was; I had no idea I’d been doing it for 38-ish years of my life, and definitely wasn’t aware that it was happening in every one of my relationships, intimate or otherwise.

I’ve never identified myself as a “people pleaser” because I’ve lived my life way too far outside the social colouring lines; I thought I was rooted, self-assureds, confident and unwilling to settle.

Until recently, 7 months after the ending of a confusing, chaotic, toxic 8-year relationship, I started meticulously teasing apart the roots of my survival patterns with my therapist… and there it was.

My interpersonal relationships were saturated with the insidious pattern of seeking belonging and love.

These kinds of patterns can go easily unnoticed because they’re so deeply wired into our systems; they happen automatically, within milliseconds, before our thinking brain has any time to discern or respond.

(In some ways this is good because it means our autonomic nervous system is doing it’s “job”, but it becomes problematic when the nervous system is responding to older threats that it believes is occurring right now, when it isn’t.)

After months of healing work following the end of my most recent relationship, what I began to see was that I’d been choosing to stay in a relationship that was destructive to my health, well-being, creativity, life force, vitality, and ability to take up space.

It started to make so much sense: as soon as I saw the pattern I couldn’t unsee it, and over time it started showing itself in most of my interactions with people.

I was so quick to shift away from my own truth.

I was so quick to abandon my own needs, or my expression, or the tone of voice I wanted to use, or the boundary I wanted to place…

And I saw it in the way I was with my family, my friends, my clients, the cashier at the checkout, hell, even my dog.

There were moments I’d walk on eggshells to keep the love of my dog…

I was careful not to take up too much space, or inconvenience anyone, or get in the way, or maybe too much “noise”.

I’d be agreeable or change the tone of my voice when I spoke, or ever so subtly say what I thought would be more well received.

My truth had no place in my interactions with people. And because of that, I was operating from the unconscious belief that “I” wasn’t worthy. I wasn’t enough, or I was too much. In one way or another, I was unlovable.

This pattern of “fawning”, people pleasing, placating, or appeasing others silences our voice and reduces our power to the approval of others.

When we operate from this place (and to be clear—there is no shame here, our patterns make so much sense) we suffer because we hinder and oppress the truth of our soul and its expression. We bind it to something so much smaller than it was ever meant to be.

Our souls came here for their fullest expression; this is a necessary ingredient to experiencing a fully lived life.

Our work, then, is to receive the opportunities that often present themselves as loss or painful lessons.

To work with the medicine of suffering and allow life to shape us; smoothen our hardened edges and reveal more of the veracity of our soul.

And it ain’t easy.

It’s the hardest, most vulnerable and sometimes painfully excruciating work I’ve ever done.

But the price of the alternative— a small or partially lived life— is far too high.


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