I’ve been contemplating something, and I’m curious, what do you do when you are speaking with someone and they don’t give you a response? They may look at you, but there is no change in their facial expression. Or, maybe they look vacantly off into space, but there is no response. It’s as if you haven’t spoken at all.
For me, I consider then, what’s going on for this person? Have they been depressed? Are they having a flat affect because the depression has become very severe? Or have they been filled with anxiety, and their system has been flooded with cortisol and adrenaline and they are flat out wiped out.
But how does this impact your nervous system? What do you do? How do you stay present with the lack of response?
Well, I’ve been on this journey for a while now, and I have discovered that it is possible to keep showing up in our world. It’s possible to keep showing up and staying in relationship, even when you are not receiving a notable response back.
It’s possible to stay curious and open-hearted. This is possible especially when you have been discovering, empowering, and enabling your own system to experience how much you matter in those moments as well. We need to be able to take care of ourselves to be available to be supportive of others.
We need to be able to receive resonant acknowledgement of what it’s like to be us! In order to stay curious and open-hearted around what it’s like for others to be them. And, to have reciprocal relationships where I matter, and you matter. We all matter.
We need to be held in a container where our worst moment is acknowledged. I’ve had this happen just recently and it was pretty astonishing and transformative for me. Getting to be held by another, where there is trust, to go deep. Time-traveling to my little Gloria and checking in with her. Slowing down, being in my body and checking in, what is it like for little Gloria?
She was sitting there wondering how to be with this frozenness. Then, slowing down to go a little deeper, there is a fear in her, and a belief, that I will make it worse if I say or do anything. Especially if the other person is not giving a response. Really hyper-alert, hypervigilant to be able to tell, is there danger here? I uncovered a contract that my little one had inside of her, by being able to hear, “Do you need acknowledgement that it’s only gotten worse? That things only get worse in your world?” It was astonishing to receive that guess.
It was like, oh my gosh! I am actually being seen for what it was like for little me. And then another guess, have you stopped breathing? Is your stomach in a knot? Is it so scary right there, not knowing how to be with your experience? Is there a need for acknowledgement that you are stuck in alarmed aloneness?
When I received those guesses I could feel, especially through my right side of my neck and shoulder blade, it was this relaxation response. It was as if it had been held tight for a really long time. I was really needing to know there is no wrong thing that I could do in this world.
But underneath that, the vow that needed to be released was hearing my little self believe, “Well, I must be just icky. I’m an icky person. I will believe I am icky in order to make sense of the abandonment of my life. No matter the cost to myself or those I love.” To really believe that I’m icky, and it was such a little girl voice or phrasing that came out. To meet that with warmth, resonance and compassion, that’s so important.
So, I said, “Little Gloria, I hear this vow that you made to me, and I don’t like it for you. I release you from this vow, and I revoke the contract, and I bestow upon you my blessing. My blessing to know there is no wrong thing that you can do. I bless you with resiliency and courage to trust yourself. To trust your own inner knowing, the wisdom that resides within your heart, within your soul. To be able to keep showing up in this world, even when it feels so crazy making. For you to be surrounded with light, the light of love, to buoy you up and sustain you as you stay open-hearted and curious. Choosing relationships over strategies.
There was such a relief with this experience, and, I’ve worked with this a lot. Yet, there is something about the subtlety, the nuances, or untangling the circuitry within. It’s really powerful. It’s really important work.