There's a song I love by the songwriter Yael Naïm called "Far Far." Part of the song lyrics go like this:
Far, far, there's this little girl
She was praying for something good to happen to her
From time to time there are colors and shapes
Dazzling her eyes, tickling her hands
They invent her a new world with
Oil skies and aquarel rivers
But don't you run away already
Please don't go
How can you stay outside?
There's a beautiful mess inside...
Take a deep breath and dive
There's a beautiful mess
A beautiful mess inside...
I guess I'll have to give it birth
to give it birth...
There's a beautiful mess inside and it's everywhere
So shake it yourself now deep inside
Deeper than you ever dared
Deeper than you ever dared
There's a beautiful mess inside
Beautiful mess inside
I occasionally listen to this song and, in addition to it's hauntingly beautiful melody, I let those lyrics sit with me for a bit. I have always been a creative person, which makes me feel already close to this girl in the song who utilizes beauty to soothe her. But this bit about giving birth to what's inside...that's really got me thinking.
I recently read a book called The Drama of the Gifted Child by Alice Miller, a Psychologist who has a lot of experience working with clients who come from difficult and abusive childhoods. This book isn't about gifted children the way we typically think of "gifted children." The gift she's writing about is adaptation of the self for survival. Three of the primary needs of a child are food, shelter, and love – the third essentially equal to the first two. Even as children, humans are very adaptable. If a child needs love, but isn't getting love, the child adapts - making himself/herself "more lovable" (or less ignorable). It's a survival tool. And it works. For a little while at least. Miller's book is kind of the pair of glasses through which Westerners can examine this process, how it impacted them, and what changes they want to make as adults. It's a very powerful pair of glasses. I definitely recommend the book. (But read it with a friend if you're feeling fragile!) So what does this have to do with giving birth to things inside us, like the song talks about?
When a child doesn't have a choice but to adapt her true self to be more "convenient" for people (that's Miller's word, not mine) and thus "more lovable," that true self is wrapped in layers of "false self" characteristics, mannerisms, behaviors, etc. Even the child's appearance might adapt to be more "lovable." But no matter how many layers cover that true-self child, it's still in there. And I think each person has a choice whether or not to give that child a voice later in life.
Is it scary? Oh yes. Will that child-self be needy and clingy? Almost definitely. Will we recoil from this self when we see its less "convenient" qualities we've hidden for so long? We've been trained to. But...taking a deep breath, diving into what feels like a mess, refusing to stay outside – it gives birth to that child that so deserves to speak and so deeply deserves to be loved.
Have you ever heard about those controlled forest fires? Highly skilled forest fire workers start intentional, controlled fires - the purpose of which is to burn off the things in forests that inhibit the birth of new things. "Controlled burning stimulates the germination of desirable forest trees, thus renewing the entire forest...Some seeds, such as sequoia, remain dormant until fire breaks down the seed coating" (sciencedaily.com).
Is there anything dormant inside you that wants to give birth? A something so amazing that, if born, it could renew your perspective on life? Maybe it's a something that you've had to hide or chosen to hide so you appear more "convenient" to people, but letting it see the light of day - letting it feel love in community with others - would make it less ugly, even grow in beauty. What's really under that self you choose to present to everyone? Something incredible? If you've ever seen a sequoia, use that as your image. This truly awesome, breathtaking tree can't even begin to grow if it isn't for a controlled burn, a diving in, a giving birth that hurts.
If this resonates something inside you, don't try to dive into this alone. I know I'm biased, but I highly recommend this kind of self work be done with an objective, caring, professional counselor. It might be incredibly painful. And it might be completely worth it. That giant sequoia has to start somewhere.