Reconnecting with My Core Self

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Graduate Profiles

Reconnecting with My Core Self
By Kenny Ball

I grew up shy. Extremely shy. I wanted to disappear whenever attention came to me. When I got a little older I loved playing sports but I was never much of a talker and never very comfortable around people. I drank a lot in high school so that I could talk to girls but even that didn’t really help much. I was very insecure and self-conscious—what I later came to see as fear-based. To go along with my extreme shyness was a physiology that ran the show. I would blush pretty significantly. In high school and college I blushed, couldn’t talk, couldn’t think, and sometimes had trouble breathing when I had to give a report, talk in front of people, or talk to girls. I was fear-based, shame-based, and I couldn’t hide it.

I say this to help explain why I quit college and began a long journey (which I am still on) to try to find myself, heal myself, or somehow feel better. The first time I actually experienced the possibility of feeling emotionally safe—like it was okay to feel as scared/bad/angry/sad as I was—was when I did STAR in 1989. It was like, wow, it might actually be okay to feel, to be here, to show up for my life.

I was pretty skeptical when I got to STAR—I had had some therapeutic experiences in the past that were not heart based or safe. But at STAR I gradually felt like there might be some kind of safety there so I took some chances and started to feel. It was often difficult, being as fear-based as I was, but sometimes it felt so good to finally be able to cry and feel how scared/angry/sad I was. Mind you, at that time in my life I had built a business and done a lot. But emotionally, I was locked up and hyper-vigilant trying to fortify my leaky defenses and lack of connection to my self.

To actually be able to cry was huge. I was one of those mostly non-verbal guys who knew how to be hard and keep everything inside. But at the same time, the only time I could really breathe and feel half right was when I saw a movie that touched me and made me cry. So STAR was huge for me, and I’ve been on that path (finding and feeling my feelings) ever since. It is still often a struggle but sometimes I do reconnect to my heart/soul and that is what it’s about for me. And when I do reconnect, by having a connected feeling, the thoughts and fear dissolve and I feel more alive, real, conscious and loving.

One thing I have learned is that, for me, the fear began prenatally and perinatally. And feeling some of that has been very significant for me. So significant in fact, that I went back to college to finish my BA and then to graduate school to get a PhD in Pre and Perinatal (PPN) Psychology. I believe many people lose some degree of connection to their core self at some point in their PPN life. I also believe it is possible to reconnect to that core self and the way that works for me is PPN psychotherapy—reliving painful PPN experiences in a safe and heart-felt environment. Consequently, I did my dissertation on connecting to one’s core self in PPN psychotherapy, one example of that being what sometimes happens to participants (me for one) at STAR.