[kon-fawr-mey-shuh n] noun: the arrangement of the parts of an object; the act or state of conforming, or acting in accordance or harmony with prevailing standards, norms, or behaviors; one of the configurations of a molecule that can easily change its shape and can consequently exist in equilibrium with molecules of different configuration.
We are all born with a blueprint for our body and our emotions, meant to allow our bodies to work optimally and with gravity, and our spirits to function and succeed – in our lives and with others. Unfortunately, as children, we are quite often not allowed to follow those blueprints because the adults in our lives may have conspired to form us – body and soul – to meet a need or design of their own, or they want us to be a certain way that fits with how they perceive of, interact with, or fear, the world.
The child who is constantly told to “take one for the team,” or that “boys don’t cry,” or, “you’re too much/too funny/too loud/too energetic/too joyful/too sad.” The child whose frail mother trains him to be attentive, self-abnegating, and caring of her needs. The daughter who takes on masculine traits, activities, and interests to please a father who wishes for a son. The daughter of a beauty-queen mother, whose feminine traits, unselfishness, and looks are valued over her strength, energy, or independence. The son that is fearful, quiet, and keeps to himself because his parents suffered their own terrible traumas as children.
My family discouraged the feeling and expressing of needs and emotions. My father’s most prized thing was to be “in control.” I feel like I was probably born a more physical, emotional, person but that anything that didn’t seem controlled was frowned upon. I have begun to feel like my original personality and physicality was more unrestrained, free, and possibly even a little goofy and dorky; kind of like a Labradoodle. Dorkiness aside, however, I also feel like I have some Alpha elements – strength, power, and authority – that would have been threatening to the family status quo.
They preferred that I care for the family’s needs and well-being while being accommodating, self-negating, and codependent. When loved ones were uncomfortable, I felt a near-involuntary response to fix it in any way possible, caring for others to my own detriment and giving too much away. My body came to reflect all of these directives through a physical restraint, and a chronically tight jaw, head, neck, and shoulders to keep me from exhibiting emotion, and speaking without prior deliberation about myself and my needs. I believe my Alpha side was quashed, except when it benefitted someone else in some way. I also developed the body-changing autoimmune disorder that reflected the demands that were made on my form and self.
My SPRe mentor, Jill, and I refer to this process as con-formation; the act of being configured as children away from our natural blueprint by our families of origin. As children, we cut away unacceptable emotions or actions, stuff down needs, and our physicality is changed in order to “fit in,” and be seen as acceptable. Our bodies and spirits are co-opted and shaped according to someone else’s needs and requirements – so that we can exist in equilibrium with the more powerful molecules (parents) in our households – before we had a chance to form ourselves as we might or should have been.
Even away from your family, you maintain the shape created for you, and con-formation leads to physical and emotional de-formation – things like chronic muscle and joint pain, autoimmune diseases, IBS, heart problems, diabetes, MS, and ALS. Unrecognized, unaddressed con-formation adversely affects your body and your life as you continue to attract those people, environments, careers, and situations that fit your formations: unhealthy relationships, addictions, and life and relationship patterns that don’t get us what we really want and deserve.
I’ve been thinking about this process a lot lately as I undergo the training to be a SPRe practitioner, as I continue my personal journey through my body and psyche, and as I transform my life. My codependent de-formations have attracted a lot of people to fit them, people who have wanted me to maintain that formation so that I could continue to take care of them. Some of the people closest to me have really pressed in on these formations lately, in an effort to get me to do what they want me to do, and continue to soothe their discomfort.
The good thing is, con-formation and de-formation can be combatted by in-formation. One of the main tenets of SPRe is that we listen to and act on the information being conveyed to our bodies, from our bodies, about our bodies. Our bodies can tell us everything we need to know about what is happening now and what happened in the past. When cognition meets sensation, we can connect our minds with our bodies, matching up what happened, what our parents did, or what we decided as children, with the physical and emotional effects. We can then choose to rise above what was done to us and change the forms that were imposed on our physical and emotional structure.
I’ve learned that when I can understand what happened to me and match it with the physical/emotional, then I have the choice to continue with that particular con-formation, or choose something different. Using SPRe, I have been able to explore the information rising through my body – from my body – and use it to transform who I am and who I live. I’m exploring my family of origin and the ways it may have changed me. I’m facing my codependency and wrestling with it. I still feel faint pulls to do what some people want, as well as all the emotions attached – guilt, empathy, compassion – but I’m winning out, and I’m cutting out of my life those people who cannot support my new formations.
I’m noticing that the effects of the RA on my body are lessening, my body is at greater ease, and I am able to live much more fully. My jaw is looser, and im not getting as many headaches from head, neck, and jaw tension. I’m claiming my authority and power, and I’m also allowing myself to get the love and care I need and deserve without giving myself away, while allowing those I’m in relationship with to be strong and competent. I’ve decided it’s really time to choose something different. I choose Labradoodle – with some Alpha pitbull on the side.