skip to Main Content

Authenticity and riding a bicycle

While I was working as a psychotherapist, a long long time ago, (feels like) in a galaxy far, far away…, I used to read questions to house psychologists in some magazines, to see what answers these experts would provide. In order for me to get inspired. Yet I mostly got upset.

Namely, very often the questions were asked by psychologically or physically abused people. There was much pain, despair in their questions, yet the answers almost always seemed to have an undertone of: “Well, you need to understand that your father/husband/aunt/boyfriend… must have had a hard childhood too, and are probably dealing, in the best way they can, with their inner demons, traumas… So, try to be understanding and patient, and trust that things will change…” It was not always said so directly, but somehow this message seemed to have been floating between the lines – the abuser needs to be understood, and the victim, well, aren’t we all victims, we all had difficult childhood, so let’s find our way through it, someday things will change…

I have gone through a lot of abuse in my childhood too, mostly psychological violence from an alcoholised father that traumatised me deeply, and on a few occasions where I tried to share my pain and helplessness with my aunt, or grandmother, I would get an advice: “Well, you need to understand him, he has been under lots of pressure in his work, you know that he has a very responsible position in his job, just move away when this happens again, because you need to respect your father, you see, he loves you very much and he is working so much in order for you to have a carefree childhood. And all this will pass anyway, you will grow up and live your own happy life…” Needless to stress how useless these advice were.

An acquaintance of mine had been sexually abused by his father, which, of course, traumatised him heavily. In his thirties this acquaintance of mine finally broke out of his deep depression, opened up and started to share these experiences with people, also with family members. The result was that the whole family immediately completely rejected him and he remains excommunicated to this very day. How could he speak like this about his beloved father, that humble religious man, that well-respected member of the society…?

I would not want to generalise it all here, yet it does seem to me that most of our societies are functioning in some sort of a collective pressure against honesty, openness, against authenticity. Don’t speak up your truth if it is inconvenient, if it endangers the status quo in the society.

In the last few weeks I had a very similar conversation with quite a few friends of mine and it turns up that, in our middle age years, many of us seem to slowly be waking up to an authentic relationship with our parents. And are slowly learning that by having always been patient, kind, nonviolent, respectful, by having stretched again and again and again in order to accommodate their behaviours and to not upset them, that we were not only doing a disservice to ourselves, but also a big disservice to them. Namely, deep in their hearts our parents, in the same way as we all do, long for authentic meetings, especially with their own children. This is what, deep in their very souls, they have been yearning for, although they get upset when we actually offer authenticity to them, as they have never learned, in this society of ours, how to handle it.

And so I am, at 53, learning about true authenticity, especially in the present moment. I have already managed to shorten my response time from months to a couple of hours, but a real-time authenticity is still not quite tangible.

As the real-time authenticity does not seem to be a static state of beingness, a static form of myself, but it looks more like riding a bicycle and learning how to flow in a dynamic balance. As in riding a bicycle it is all about development of my sense of balance and moving from one moment to another, also in the case of real-time authenticity it seems to be about developing a certain sense so that I will immediately capture inner deviations, slow down a bit to get back in balance, and continue… So, yes, slowly, clumsily, I have been learning… Living with a master of this art certainly helps.

And what is most important for me is that I am exploring this capacity of full real-time authenticity not because it is better to be authentic than not authentic, not because it is more spiritual, evolved, but because it brings more fullness to my life, it takes the imaginary boundary between me and not-me away. And because it supports me in landing fully into this experience of existence.