Mistaken Identity

My mother didn’t know who I was. When I was born she treated me as if she owned me. As Alan Cohen writes in his book DARE TO BE YOURSELF, “Like an eagle, we have suffered under a case of mistaken identity.” Mother taught me about fear. I learned it well. I forgot that I was a magnificent individual born with a purpose. The teachers told me I was dumb. They didn’t realize what a magnificent soul they were talking to. The kids called me quiver lip, harelip and ugly. One little girl named Selma said she’d be my friend when nobody was around but wouldn’t like me when the other kids were there. I was so desperate to be liked that I let that be okay with me.

For years I tried to fit in so I’d be liked. I obeyed and smiled, was patted on the head and told what a good girl I was and oh, so sweet. I liked that so I became even sweeter and would go out of my way to do things for people whether I wanted to or not.

I remember one Christmas dinner when I was about 8, my aunt asked me to run upstairs to her room and get her cigarettes. “When will I be old enough so I can say no?” I asked. She stopped smiling as she answered coldly, “Never mind, I’ll get them myself.” I learned not to speak up for fear of disapproval.

When did I wake up? There were signs when I’d talk to Rev. Mary Kupferle, the minister of the Lake Worth, Florida Unity Church. I wrote letters to her telling how scare I was and how I didn’t fit in. She would remind me that I didn’t have to follow in my mother’s footsteps. I loved Mary and she let me write the program for her Wednesday noon services. She even paid me to type one of her books for her. She saw my greatness. I was so amazed when I read her obituary and discovered she and mother were born the same year. What a difference between two women!

My friend Ed caught a glimmer of who I was. He was the kind of friend who looked straight into my eyes as I talked and really heard me. One day we met in a Sundry store downtown Lake Worth, Fl. I showed him that one of my stories that I’d written was published in a magazine that was for sale right there in the store. He picked up the magazine, walked around the store and showed it to everyone who came in, telling them that I’d written a story in it, pointing to me. That was fun. We took our raggedy Ann and Andy dolls to the mall one afternoon and had them talk to people walking by. Some liked it and played along with us, others scowled, while others ignored us altogether. Ed and I were kindred spirits on some level. His birthday was the day before mine. I miss Ed and Mary and hope they greet me when it’s my time to pass over.

Bernie, my husband encouraged me when I was doing tarot readings at a sports bar. He told me he heard people say they loved my readings and how good I was.

When I joined Thriving Now, Rick Wilkes and Cathy Vartuli saw my greatness. They always encourage me and Cathy often says, “You Rock, Jean!” As I’ve been working with them with EFT and their brilliant and compassionate coaching, I’ve learned to love myself even when I felt stupid or unworthy as all of us humans feel from time to time. Rick and Cathy tapped with me on these feelings during our calls and in private sessions to help me release those unworthy feelings and to love the real, vulnerable person I really am. I can truly say I love myself no matter what. It isn’t saying I’m perfect because no one is, but to love my humanness, my spirit.

Whether or not I actually fulfill my reason for being born, my potential is always unfolding. Maybe I am fulfilling it now as I write, teach and help people find their own wonderful selves. Maybe that’s what my life is about - courage despite traumas, love despite bullying and glimpses of freedom despite the heavy lessons of fear. Like the eagle I say to myself, Jean, come forth and claim your true identity and soar! Be one with that great mind that created you and everyone else.

What mistaken identity do you have about yourself? Have you seen glimpses of your magnificence?


I thought I was skinny and weak. I got so much feedback about that in middle and high school that it stuck with me. My sense is that the trauma of being teased, as you mentioned, combined with other unsafeties and traumas helped to “lock in” a mistaken identity.

Perhaps more dramatically, I remember getting praise from people that mattered for being Smart. So that is what I focused on being – along with pleasing people – at the expense of my humanity and my heartistry. I’m grateful that at some point my body-mind-SPIRIT said, “Oh stop this!” and in the pause/disease period I got so much clearer about my gifts and gaps… and that the gaps were more than okay.

WOW. Could we do a call on THAT!

Thank you for sharing this! More please…


Amongst all the very memorable and revealing things you disclosed Jean, this is what really stood out for me. So I wasn’t surprised that Rick highlighted the same quote as well.

It’s such a beautiful question that you asked…so revealing of your circumstances at that time…and so revealing of your spirit that understood how unheard, unseen and how misunderstood it was at that time.

It seems to me that if you were able to ask that question and comprehend the importance of it at that age then you were without a doubt old enough to say ‘no’. Unfortunately the environment you were in didn’t allow for that sort of wisdom or personal expression.

As I consider your question I’m compelled to say that we are born with the energetic blueprint of ‘no’ and also ‘NO!’. Babies communicate ‘no’ and ‘NO!’ nonverbally all the time with sounds and facial expressions. Toddlers have the art of ‘NO!’ down to a fine science.

It gets trained out of us in numerous ways. I guess we exchange our power of ‘no’ for the experience of certainty…the certainty of feeling accepted and approved. In order to secure those fundamental needs we unwittingly pay with our ‘no’ and our ‘NO!’.

I struggle in certain contexts with ‘no’ and ‘NO!’…I wouldn’t say it’s a pervasive problem but it is still problematic at times. I’m aware of it and I have set the intention to transform it. As I sit with it I’m becoming so aware of just how potent that word is and how absolutely necessary it is to have what it expresses within our command.

Thanks Jean.


I thought I wasn’t worth anyone’s time, and that whatever I touched I would break. I expected to be rejected. This is what I was taught at home. I was so miserable I started eating alone in my room when I was 8 because neither parent showed any interest in me, and my brother was allowed to be cruel to me. Then at school the kids started calling me fat and ugly. There was no safe place to go, ever.

Now I (believe I) carry this seemingly bottomless well of resentment, anger, sadness and loneliness.

There’s a question I want to ask, that I’m having some trouble articulating. If I drop down into my body, and really let myself feel, that sadness and loneliness comes up almost instantly and is so powerful my chest hurts and I get tears in my eyes.

I’m not sure if I’m “creating” these feelings by thinking about them (much as an actor would cry by thinking of something really sad) or if they are there just below the surface asking to be heard and released.

If I try to tap on them by myself, I end up sobbing and with a monstrous headache, which doesn’t really seem to help anything.


That’s so much hurt to deal with! Just reading it evokes such strong feelings in me of loneliness and despair. I’m sorry that was your childhood. I wish it had been different for you.

I’m struggling with your question…I keep reading it over again and again…the question puts me into a bit of a confused, dissociated state actually…I wonder if it does the same for you? Maybe the question itself is as revealing as the feelings that are arising? I’m not trying to be cryptic and falsely intellectual here with psychobabble but that’s what comes up for me…what I’m curious about.

If you are ‘creating’ those feelings do you ever create other feelings when you drop down into your body? You seem like a very creative person so if it was a creative act would you not be likely to create a host of other feelings? If it’s always the same feelings that you encounter when you drop down into your body then I would say you have your answer.

I don’t know if anything I’ve said is helpful or thought provoking but I do wish you peace and healing my friend.


When first got into this group, gibbysan, I felt the same way. I was afraid that my sadness was going to engulf me and it was almost overwhelmingly hard to tap alone. I just wanted to feel better, to have the pain gone. As I tapped on calls more and more and got support from both Rick and Cathy I started to understand how to tap with my feelings more. I remember one day I was totally bereft and couldn’t seem to stop crying I had a session with Rick. I don’t remember what he said at the time but we tapped and it was just what I needed to hear. I couldn’t even fathom loving myself completely either. I believe as you continue to raise your hand on calls, asking these questions, you will find tapping for yourself helps. Much love to you, Jean


I want to honor how real and clear your expression is to me. As a description of the energy that is Sourced through such neglect and disconnection, yes, a “bottomless well.” Unfathomably deep.

There are places (and people) where the DEEP currents of their flow is near the surface. I think of the most lush undersea places on the planet, like the Galapagos and Monterrey Bay… really PRECIOUS ecosystems bursting with life due to their unfathomably powerful and deep currents.

There’s a Truth in your childhood that those of us you’ve let closer to you can feel. It was profoundly sad and grief-worthy to know that a beautiful being was so neglected and rejected. Our believe our “inner child” represents the inherent sweetness and humanity in each of us, and your inner child radiates a worthiness that was not… met. Indeed, actively rejected.

Does that mean that all that energy that was unmet stays as trauma?

I don’t believe so. But it doesn’t mean that it can’t be experienced – anytime and anyplace – as profoundly sad. In the same way those unfathomably deep ocean currents can be felt as “strong” contrasted to outside the current… if one is paying attention.

If I touch on the contrast in my own childhood, especially regions of my life where my needs were unmet, there’s also a deeeeeep and powerful sadness. A current of energy.

For me (and it’s something I notice in clients, too) is that even as we get clear awareness of our unmet needs and traumas, it does NOT mean that the sadness goes away. We can tap into it. And sometimes it seems to rise right under the surface or even gush out in tears and grief.

What I can say is that the clearer I am about what MATTERS to me, and the more I flow my energy (deep currents of energy) in that direction, the less my life experience is one of, as you said, “resentment, anger, sadness, and loneliness.”

The felt experience is one that there IS a deep current in me… and it needs to flow and nourish an “ecosystem.” It needs to nourish with what comes “with me” as part of my life experience.

You may have felt that with me. I feel it with you.

Presence – healthy, nourishing, generous, connected – matters to me. I bring that with me from the depth of currents of experiences of lack of that into bringing that into form… in ways I can, as imperfectly and humanly as I can.

Love – yeah, that. Sourced from deep sadness and betrayal, love has a richness flowing in me that is so different from “surface” or “superficial.” I have felt and heard your own awareness that superficial social is, uhh, not “your thing” nor really who you are.

There’s more. Consent. Safety. Respect. Curiosity. Innocence. Play. Devotion. Service. Responsiveness…

Since I trust you and this space, I can truly say that underneath and as a source of energy for all those is… that welling energy of sadness. It doesn’t always have to flow into tears… though sometimes it does. It doesn’t have to stay frozen – though parts of me still sometimes arise as “glaciers” to be melted into the flow.

Perhaps there are paths that lead to lightness and joyfulness always and all ways. As an earth element kinda being, I wouldn’t feel Myself if I was that always. The deep flows of magma make this earth what it is. The vast and unfathomably oceans and their currents make this earth what it is.

It gives me comfort and clarity to allow myself to know my deep emotional currents, too, are part of All That. They can flow in ways that nourish Life – mine and Ours.

Love to you, and I hope this supports you in discerning what is right and clear for you.


That’s so moving and beautiful Rick…thank you. I always so profoundly and deeply appreciate the natural metaphors you weave into your thinking and your work. My being/my body just seems to resonate with them and agree with and understand them. In fact I believe the connections you make between these energies and forces in nature to our inner ecosystems as humans are not merely metaphorical…they are truly one and the same energies.

Thank you.
Love to us all.


Glenn, thank you for this. I can feel the time and energy you expended on my behalf to help me.

I didn’t find it cryptic at all, or falsely intellectual. What I took away from this is a welcome reminder that the body doesn’t lie, and that my experience is whatever it is. As someone who learned to dismiss and suppress my feelings, it feels like validation. Whatever I’m feeling is real, I’m not making it up, and it’s deserving of my attention.

Jean, thank you for your love and support and for sharing of yourself so generously. I appreciate you more than words can say.

Rick, thank you. There’s so much truth and love and kindness and support in what you wrote. Your feedback and support are invaluable, and in no small way because of the genuineness I feel as well as the deep place from within you that it manifests.


I’m very happy you found us!! And that I found us as well!! What a kind, supportive and genuine community we have here.

I couldn’t agree more with what you’ve written to and about Rick. I can’t help but think of all the hours and all the thought and love and passion that Rick has poured into creating this community of ours.

Love to us all!