So, there is this overly friendly octopus that seems to live in my head. Let me explain.
You know how I’ve mentioned that existing in my own brain has been kind of revolutionary for me, well, that other state of being all up in other people’s energies and brains has felt like having that octopus in my head. And its tentacles like to reach out to the other people in the shared energy space and just check in.
Like how are they doing? What can we (the little octopus and I) be doing to make sure that they are happy, safe and taken care of? But before they even ask…and to regulate my own wellbeing by pleasing them.
You see, I’m a recovering serial people pleaser, which I’ve come to realize included behaviors that I wasn’t aware of and that can be rather manipulative. It is also a very inefficient way to regulate ones own emotion. And, for me, is very likely a trauma response. Needing to feel safe and this was the only way I knew how to do it…and the generational trauma gave it more importance.
Let’s talk about the space between us.
I first really had that explained in a book by Kristen and Rob Bell, The Zimzum of Love. It is a book on marriage and while I usually don’t have interest in reading many marriage books (especially Christian) this one had some unique things that piqued my curiosity (long story short: Bell is considered a bit of a heretic in Christian circles and he and his wife wrote the book together opening the wisdom up to more than simply Christian doctrine).
There exists this energetic space between people, a space where we can connect on that level with the people in our lives. It is a space that is heavily influenced by what we put into it. Unconscious or not. And a lot of us put a lot of our energies (octopods) out in this space without maybe meaning to exist so much in this in between space. I know I didn’t realize how much I was existing here.
I was almost completely existing in this space between people. The octopus was fully hanging out in this space and happily trying to get all up in everyone’s business, tentacles wrapped up in other’s energies and brains just so I could feel safe and comfortable. I didn’t know any better.
Because while the space between us is important and necessary, living there is not.
So that moment where it all kinda clicked for me and suddenly the hubs and I were more in our own brains, well that was the moment that I understood that the octopus was overly friendly and needed to be schlepped back into my brain. This was also the moment that I understood what it meant to be myself, fully. What it felt not to abandon myself for others, as was my unfortunate habit.
This new existence is really uncomfortable. Good and still weird. I love the new confidence it has found within me and I am also unsettled. I have to remind myself that if someone is upset with me, needs something from me, or wants to talk to me that they will let me know. I do not need my little octopus to get loose again and go browsing for the signs. I am allowed to focus on how I am feeling rather than how others are feeling.
And, please, please, please do not misunderstand. Others are still important, I’m not going full selfish here…though it sometimes feels this way because I’m not used to taking such good care of myself. Of not abandoning myself for others.
Other people have the right to have their space, too. To communicate their wants and needs before someone else attempts to interpret it for them without asking.
So, let’s surrender the space between us a bit more. Understand that intentionally existing in that space is far more considerate than letting those pesky, overly friendly octopods get all up in each other’s business while running rampant. It may even help us feel more confident in ourselves, in knowing what we want and need. Help us recover from people pleasing as our sense of safety.
I hope y’all luck in surrendering the space between, as necessary, and, hopefully, living a little more confidently in taking care of yourself. And, allowing those in your life the space to actually let you know how they are doing and what they need. It is a bit scary at first but so worth it.
With all the love,
P.S. I thought it appropriate to reshare my art of the Cattapus in all his underwater glory. He may be part octopus but he is pretty ok keeping to himself for the most part.