Dr. Katherine Coder holds a PHD in Transpersonal Psychology from The Institute of Transpersonal Psychology at Sofia University and is a Transpersonal Psychologist working through elemental medicine, one-on-one meetings, and group trainings. She invites people to realize and express their full humanness – to themselves, in relationship, and in community.
Dr. Kat’s specialties include trauma resolution, healing shame, relationship healing, cultivating the deep Feminine, ceremony, and one-on-one client work for those looking for a deeper connection to themselves and their world. Her transformative work connects body, mind, and Spirit to allow people to integrate at a profound level and live from their true essence.
This article has been re-blogged from her website blog http://www.katherinecoder.com/blog/
By Katherine Coder.
In a moment of reflection a few days ago, I was gifted with the realization that one of my oldest places of pain had faded away.
It had faded away so silently, that I’m not sure when it made its final farewell.
I’m reminded of burned swaths of forest eventually birthing new life, blackened earth and broken trees replaced by wildflowers, enthusiastic bushes, and young saplings reaching for the heavens.
I’m not sure how old I was when I realized that it was best to fear others.
By the time I had words for such things, I had determined (based on the information at hand) that I was not likeable. Before age 8, there were a few people that seemed to like me – my childhood best friend Betsy, my grandmother’s housekeeper Pauline, my aunt, and my dad.
Betsy and I had an easy way with each other, our parents being friends, so we met at age 2. For a long time, she was really the only friend I needed, and I was happy to have such a friend. Pauline seemed to like me for no reason. I never really understood it, but every time she saw me, her whole face lit up with such joy that she almost seemed to be in pain, small tears forming at the corners of her eyes.
My aunt, who we called Annie, was a champion of fun. She loved both my sister and I dearly, and we felt deeply prized in her presence. She always had a gift in hand and a big smile on — her enthusiasm was a marvel to my young mind. My father seemed to have accepted me into his fold, and he was committed to helping me along my way. Given the dearth of friendly faces in my early life, I was grateful for whatever form his love took.
I also had a steadfast and fierce relationship with a sock monkey I called Monkey. He and I were inseparable. Any threat of him being washed or left at home during outings was met with a battle cry only a toddler can enact. For a tiny little being, I could make myself known.
The responses I received from my first tribe were disheartening.
I never seemed to be doing or being the right thing. I was sensitive and shy, preferring to hide behind my mom’s leg than run around and talk. I did not like strangers, much less want to engage with them. The whole social sphere felt pretty confusing, overwhelming, and uncomfortable.
My only good option growing up in my family was to fit in. As a young one, the promised land of acceptance and love was dependent on me learning how to make myself like the others. It was clear that no one was going to meet me halfway. If I did not want to be alone or marginalized, I had to make some serious changes.
Until my teenage years, I did my best to comply with the terms – grateful for any small moments when I could stop performing and just be.
It was challenging to know that I had to learn to be different to find a place in my family. Usually once a year or so, I broke down into an emotionally-undone heap as the burden of constant performance exhausted me.
By the time I reached my teenage years, I was deeply hurt and desperately angry. I made a point to not go along with everyone else, ruining every family photo with a classic scowl. To this day, my grandmother keeps one of those photos on her fridge. Every time I see it, I wince.
It was around this time that I was conscious of living in constant fear of being disliked by others. Each time I had to speak in groups, I turned bright red, flushed with a tidal wave of shame at the most benign self-exposure. I hid in a large pack of girlfriends, doing the best I could to not make myself a target of attention. I always marveled at those who genuinely enjoyed receiving attention, often befriending them so that I could live vicariously through someone so startlingly unafraid. It was like being friends with a miracle.
The next couple of decades brought both relief from and worsening of my fear of being disliked. At times I started to believe that I was lovable only to be crushed by a social disaster that reminded me that I was hopeless and would be lucky to gobble up any love scraps that fell from the banquet table.
But, emboldened by this nagging sensation that there was more to life, I set my sights on finding that.
The Journey Toward Healing
I began my healing journey in my late teens and just kept going. When setbacks happened, I redoubled my efforts, making myself my top priority. I invested heavily in myself – financially, emotionally, and temporally. I let go of other markers of success – climbing a corporate ladder, financial gain, marriage and the like, and gave myself to myself.
I went “under the knife” with a number of therapists, healers, bodyworkers, and shamans. I went so far as to get a doctorate in it never knowing if I would ever be “whole” enough to offer anyone anything of value.
I pursued my healing not with a blind faith that I would get better. I pursued it because it was my only chance of really living.
At points my PTSD was so bad that social interactions would leave me shaking. Grad school colleagues teased me to stop burying my head in my phone, but it was one of my only lifelines in moments of deep fear and discomfort. My anxiety texted.
As I started to claim my work in healing and give from the places I had healed, my fear of being disliked became less relevant. As I engaged from my deepest wells of meaning, I began to understand myself more. Although I’ve never been one to amass a large following, I began to attract others who wanted to engage the way that I did. We met each other in various capacities, giving ourselves over to the noble task of self-healing, and we found joy in our fellowship.
Little by little, my fears and scary projections subsided. My shame came out of the closet.
Deep humility and burgeoning dignity presented themselves more and more, outshining the ancient terror, hopelessness, and emotional emaciation.
Day by day, I grew stronger.
Sometimes my clients ask me how long it’s going to take to “get over” certain painful experiences, metaphorically looking at their watches and tapping their feet. I often don’t have an answer. “It takes as long as it takes,” and “It depends on how far you want to go” are not the most satisfying responses to those in pain.
What is the value of meeting someone new and knowing that you will like them (or not) and they will like you (or not), and that there is nothing wrong with any of those outcomes? In other words, what is the value of knowing that you will not die if someone doesn’t like you?! How long would you work to reach that place?
How long would you spend healing your body, heart, and mind to be free from constant suffering?
Maybe I’m a glutton, but I will spend the rest of my life healing so that every day I experience more and more freedom and get to be more wholly present for the best and worst of times.
So, was it worth it? Was sacrificing everything to get better worth it?
Since 1975, the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology at Sofia University has continued to be an international leader and pioneer, moving humanity forward in the areas of transpersonal research and transpersonal education. training clinicians, spiritual guides, wellness caregivers, and consultants who apply transpersonal principles and values in a variety of settings. The Sofia educational model offers students not only a solid intellectual foundation, but an extraordinary opportunity for deep transformational growth and personal experience of the subject matter. How does Sofia University accomplish this? The university builds upon its strong, whole-person psychological foundation to give students a greater understanding of the human condition.