i am a cup of love. i am shannon.

November 19, 2012 | 114 Comments

Shannon Fisher and daughter

None of us is a carbon copy of Mum or Dad. Instead of adopting all their parents’ negative traits, adolescents seek their own authentic way of being. But to the degree that we feel unloved or unworthy, our uniqueness fails to flower. Since our attempts to be lovable by imitating our parents didn’t pay off, we begin to define ourselves as being not-Mum or not-Dad. I was in my 30s before I realised that a major part of my personality had developed in rebellion to my mother. I wasn’t really Joan. I was not-Lillian.

The Therapy that Changed my Life by Joan Borysenko

The truth is this: the 8 days at Hoffman left me with a lot of fucking work to do.

I didn’t come away miraculously cured of my shame, self-loathing, insecurity, depression, vindictiveness, or head-chatter. I came away with full-body experiences I couldn’t forget if I tried. I came away equipped to loosen the strangling grip of awareness that is, apparently, a gift.

I came away with a picture of what my patterns have cost me and a compelling desire to change. I came away with friendship and community. I came away with self-love, self-forgiveness, and self-compassion, which set me up to give from a place that no longer vibrates with need. Or, at least, vibrates less.

I also came away with personal-chef entitlement syndrome. GAWD I HATE FEEDING MYSELF.

The biggest aha for me was the expectations I place on others. The expectations come because, as Joan Borysenko wrote, I am “covertly ruled by the wounded, emotionally immature child within, who searches for the unconditional love it needed but did not receive from its family of origin.” I wrote a list of all the things that piss me off about Steve and labelled them as either in conflict with what my parents modelled or the same as my parents.

Traits unlike my parents in Steve are because I sought out someone different, and then found myself incensed he’s not like them. Steve’s similar traits are emotionally familiar, and thus triggery. CRAZYSAUCE. And amazing to know.

I made a list of my expectations of Steve. I was foaming at the mouth, madly scribbling out his deficiencies. I dotted my i’s and put down my pen with smug satisfaction. The teacher looked at my completed list and asked, “Is this a list of your unmet needs of childhood?” I looked at my paper. Huh, so it is, yes. She asked again, “Is it fair to expect Steve to make up for your childhood?”

Well shitfuckers. NO.

I’m going to work on meeting my own needs. What a huge fucking relief that is. Steve is not my mom and Steve is not my dad. Steve is my Steve. If realizing that doesn’t help me show up in this relationship differently, we’re super fucked (worst. superhero. ever).

I’m gonna show up differently.

Part of the process is digging deep into the ways parents didn’t meet needs, and feeling the resulting anger. Enraged would describe my two-day shit show. We were moved through the rage, with writing and a series of visualizations, to forgiveness, compassion and a respectful understanding for our parents’ hurts and struggles.

So… I forgave my mom. I forgave my dad. I forgave my step-dad. I cut ties with my self-righteous contempt. I’m still proud of myself for setting up a boundary with my mom and step-dad, but I can maintain that boundary out of love instead of continued resentment. That’s a win, friends!

No one can offer a child (or anyone for that matter) unconditional love all the time. Even if it were possible, kids will still experience hurt because they have—surprise—their very own lens. Shining light on this stupidly simple truth squished the self-loathing I burrow into when I knowingly or unknowingly mess up with Emma. My best and a lot of begging for forgiveness is what I have for my baby girl. And it’s enough. It is. Her and I are going to be okay. We are okay.

Another brick to the face was discovering most of who I’ve become is out of rebellion, which leaves me not knowing who the fuck I actually am. I’ve invested large amounts of energy into hating horses and makeup and nicknacks as a scoff in my mom’s direction. Turns out, I don’t hate any of them (except maybe nicknacks).

I’m going to start dating myself; I’ll be Julia Roberts in “Runaway Bride” sitting with platefuls of eggs cooked all the ways.

Some of the ways I rebelled against my mother were actually helpful[…] But as long as those interests were associated with the rage I felt toward my mother, they could not flower from my soul. I needed to work through the anger I felt for my mother and to move into a place of forgiveness, where I felt free from her control.

All week at Hoffman, all 20 of us wore our parents’ names on our name tags. On our last evening at the celebration, we each shared about our week. We started the sharing by peeling off our parents’ names, one at a time, from our tags and claiming, “I am not Brian.” I tossed that label in a basket. “And I am not Marian.” I tossed that label, too. “I am Shannon.” It was powerful to watch each one of us shed our parents and free ourselves up to be our true self. I’m excited to see what flowers from my soul and to discover a Shannon free from her 37 year old clingy, needy, rebellious, resentful hurt.

I picture myself as a cup of love, he told me. I don’t feel pushed away or rejected anymore. I can love somebody and not care about being loved back. The feeling of love is its own reward.

I am a work in progress. I am a cup of love. I have always been a cup of love. I am Shannon.

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Join the conversation

  • Kim

    You are such an incredible writer!!!!! Such HUGE insight. I love you, Shannon. Inspirational!!!!!

    • Shannon

      Thanks, Kimmie. I love you and how YOU inspire me. xo

  • Jocelyn

    You are a cup of love, without holes. Proud of you girlfriend!

    • Shannon

      No holes here! Thanks, Joce. You’re so great.

  • Fonda

    man I love you, and I love the work you are doing, and that you ARE doing it. still here cheerleading for you mama! xo

    • Shannon

      Thanks for all your support and encouragement. I’m thankful for the people in my life. xo

  • http://splatospheric.blogspot.com MizYank

    A very courageous post to complement a courageous decision. I love to read your writing for the smart insights and also the smartass insights. You rock, rowmie. Oh, and i fear you’re stuck with me. I got attached.

    • Shannon

      Smartass insights were my major. Major Smartass. I like being stuck with you.

  • Mariesy

    Shannon. I have no words. Only tears. I want to cover you with hugs and kisses!

    • Shannon

      Well then our next encounter shall prove interesting! Will the Girl Guide Holly Tea and Fair be able to handle our bounty of love?

      Can’t wait to see you!! xoxo

      • Mariesy

        Meh. I’m sure Girl Guides have witnessed girl on girl action before. In fact… isn’t that what camp is all about?

  • icescreammama

    you keep drinking from your cup of love. seems like it’s gone from half empty to half full. :)

    • Shannon


  • http://www.thedoseofreality.com thedoseofreality

    God, this is so damn amazing. I just sent it to my sister. Every single word of this I related to deep into my soul. Thank you.

    • Shannon

      Hey, wow—thanks!

  • http://www.iasoupmama.com IASoupMama

    Wow! Sounds like you did a lot of hard, hard work while you were there. I am so happy that you’re feeling good about it, too! Hard work sucks, but when you get it done, you get to live in the glow and that makes it worth it. Great job!

    • Shannon

      Oh man, the hard work just started. That was the womb. It’s scary out here! ;)


  • http://amorninggrouch.wordpress.com A Morning Grouch

    Sounds like Hoffman was an amazing experience for you. That self-compassion piece is so important….and SO HARD to do sometimes. It takes constant, constant work. Good luck to you (and Steve!) on this journey.

    • Shannon

      Self-compassion is the biggest gift I came away with. I’m not sure I’d ever considered it before.

  • http://www.living-authentically.blogspot.com/ bill dameron

    This is healing, cathartic and beautiful. Congratulations on becoming that cup of love. It is difficult, but it can be done.

    • Shannon

      Thanks, Bill. I feel pretty great about it.

  • http://restraintunfettered.wordpress.com Emma

    This is truly inspiring. Speaking about your baby you said, her and I are going to be ok, we are ok. Wow, did that get to me. I want to believe that about my girl. Thank you for all the comments you left me. They mean the world to me. I admire the work you’ve done. Makes me want to do the same.

    • Shannon

      Believe it about your girl. Believe it until you can’t, Emma. You have to, otherwise you’re giving your energy to something that may never be. Hoffman was amazing work! They have it in the States, too! xo

  • Jennie

    Well done, you. I really think you can, indeed, learn to show up differently. Most of the time. And the times that you don’t, you can step back and ask yourself “What happened there? How did I show up?” And that can be a chance to do better next time.

    Good stuff.

    • Shannon

      How do I want to show up in this situation, has become my mantra. I love it.

  • Rebeca

    Dang. Nice work Shannon Fisher.

    • Shannon

      Thanks, RDK!

  • Nicole

    Love this. (and you!)

    That is all.

    • Shannon

      Love YOU. Thanks for all your support and encouragement, friend.

  • http://www.notappropriate4.blogspot.com Angela Ryan

    Such a beautiful and inspiring post! Continue being a wonderful cup of love.

    • Shannon

      Thanks, Angela. That’s the plan! :)

  • Gina

    I am in awe of your courageousness to share these wonderfully well written words with us. May your cup spillith over.

    • Shannon

      Thanks, Gina. My words don’t really feel that courageous. They feel like the truth.

  • http://www.lemondroppie.com Ginny Marie

    So many hurdles you’ve had to overcome! All that hard work sounds like it paid off!

    • Shannon

      Oh, I’m not over them yet! I’m pretty sure they’ve just lined up in front of me, actually. :)

  • http://disorderlywanderlustblog.blogspot.com Gem

    Very moving. You are a strong awesome woman! And this Hoffman thing sound Intiguing. I can never figure out if my childhood and relationship with my parents is/was wacky and damaging or if I’m just over sensitive. But now I’m tempted to go write lists, lol. I’d be interested in hearing more of your self journey.

    • Shannon

      NOT over-sensitive! (I don’t even believe there is such a thing; your sensitivity levels are just right!). Hoffman believes that EVERYTHING is tied back to our parents. We either take on their shit to get them to love us more, or we rebell to be less like them. I was reluctant to believe that at first, but after 8 days, I’m convinced. I’d love to tell you about any parts of my journey! Fire me an email. We could even chat on the phone, if you want. Sharing is fun!

  • Peach

    I know this was huge for you. Thank you for sharing your discoveries, your stumbles and most importantly, your growth from both of them. Sending you hugs, you badass. HARD. xox

    • Shannon

      Thanks, Peach. It was huge. Thanks for READING my discoveries. I seriously love that you’re here. It means the world to me. I sure like you! You’re pretty badass yerself. xo

  • http://www.michellelongo.blogspot.com Michelle Longo

    Wow. That is so powerful and real. Good for you. A cup of love. I love it.

    • Shannon

      A cup of love IS lovely. I’m adopting it for the evers.

  • http://inthetesseract.blogspot.ca Azara

    Dating yourself – what a great line and idea. I agree with what Gem said in the comments – sometimes I wonder if my issues with my parents are just me being overly sensitive. I’m very curious about this Hoffman course now – going to google it.

    • Shannon

      You and Gem and I should have a chat!

      And thanks!

  • deborah l quinn

    I don’t know what or where Hoffman is, but sounds like it produced a kind of plate tectonics in your life: shifting large psychic landmasses into new positions. Causes hellish earthquakes, too, but can produce amazing new vistas.
    And now I’ll lose the not-quite-working metaphor and say: you’ve got some serious life-lessons under your belt, and sounds like you & your relationships are going to be the better for them. Freud said once that any couple is also in bed with each set of parents, which makes for a pretty crowded bedroom. Kick the parents out of the bed, figure out how to write our own scripts… it’s all really good advice and yet hard as hell to actually, you know, DO.
    really great post, thank you.

    • Shannon

      I love this analogy! And yeah, they said that thing about Freud at Hoffman. It was sobering.

  • http://www.mamarific.com Mamarific

    This is so eye-opening. Now I feel like I’ve been to therapy, too! And believe me, I need it, so you’ve done a public service with this post! :)

    • Shannon

      Thanks, Mama! Glad you got something out of it. PSA. HA!

  • Lynne

    Wow. Where to start? I guess, firstly: Thank you for being awesome you, and for being courageous and writing this. Somehow I missed this post in my earlier perusals of this wonderful blog and reading it just now was a little mind blowing. As I’ve mentioned possibly once or twice lately: I do *not* get along with my family, and this year more than ever it’s been an unbelievable struggle to not have it completely tip me out of my boat. Reading that others struggle in the same way, and how it’s effected them is particularly powerful–so thank you thank you for being awesome, Shan. Secondly: Where/what is this Hoffman program you attended?

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