Yesterday a new pine woodland to explore beyond the city. The vibration of driving calmed the nervous system, new sights, sounds and smells grounded me, the dog’s happiness cheered the heart.
I knew that course on ‘Shame’ last Friday was going to be something hard.
Looking under old stones and seeing what is there.
Isn’t easy. It hurts. We bury things because they hurt.
It hurts to see how and where I’ve rejected myself. And when we feel strong enough we can look and start to heal. That was a lovely and supportive group. It really helps to do it with another or others.
There can’t be anything left out. For me that’s my chosen path. Nothing stuffed down deemed too painful or frightening to look at. All these abandoned parts and ignored fears are now welcomed back. Each in their own time. No rush. This is self compassion. Love that is unconditional includes ourselves. I am willing to completely surrender.
I see how the tools I’ve absorbed into daily life have supported me.
This morning I started feeling intensely on edge contemplating the future. I was wishing I had an escape from this feeling, a magic pill to take it away when I remembered I know how to be with waves of anxiety energy.
Turn towards, not away from.
I turn towards its location in my body. Without thoughts getting involved, just feeling it. With curiosity. And a breath, and then another. “Hello there”. I hear you. I didn’t notice when the anxiety subsided, it did though, within about half an hour.
The sense of being undone. Unravelled. Split apart. Unzipped. What to do? Surrender and breathe. Hug myself. Hand on the chest sending compassion. I love you Susan. This is the work. It is kindness. Noticing and letting go with a good dose of compassion. A compassion towards ourselves we would easily give to anyone else. Why not ourselves!
I’m still not sure what shame is. My mind is a bit scrambled, but that’s okay, I’m working with feelings here, old beliefs about being inadequate. It’s connected with fear and self rejection, and taught to us by others.
Odd how “have you no shame?” Is said in a pejorative sense. What does a person with no shame look like? My friend J. Who can dance wildly like a total lunatic as if nobody is watching him. Bravo to that.
Life paves the way and the shame and fear around how I look, there’s some work to do here. Which involves active self acceptance. ‘by accident’ this morning I put my only bras into the wash, and had to dress without one. A little exercise had spontaneously and organically arrived for me to test the untrue belief that I need one to look attractive.
Gosh. Who cares, and who is even looking! Far less judging me as unlovable. And if they were to….find me unattractive, well so what. I am 57 after all 🙃
Wow how we tie ourselves up. So as I spent the first 35 years of my life, I’m bra free again. It feels glorious. Unbound. And I look just fine.
And makeup, well I’ve got less than I ever have on today, and I look acceptable 😂 I really do. Small steps in a useful direction. I admire my sister’s rebellion against the hair dyeing and makeup. Good on her.
Had dinner at my mum’s with my uncle last night. It was just fine, considering we have next to nothing except shared memories in common. it was friendly. She insists on hugging me when I arrive, I stiffen, I didn’t invite that and we don’t have that sort of closeness. And she insists on this every time recently. She used to respect my choice. How to be with that? What is the compassionate way to be?
I consider any childhood damage I experienced to be very mild in comparison to many others. My clients for example. I have gathered quite an arsenal of tools that work for me for dealing with any residue I’ve been left with. Like the nervous system primed for threat, the negative self talk/self criticism, for example.
The hard work part is making it part of every day, not falling back into the slip stream of old habitual responses and consciously inserting new habits. Maybe the hard part is coming to a place inside ourselves where we want to enough to do it.
It got me wondering what the official research says out there about undoing these old childhood defence mechanisms.
I did a search on the internet ‘how to undo childhood damage’, ‘how to reverse damage in childhood’, ‘how to reverse the effects of childhood abuse ‘ with ‘research’ and ‘research papers’. And a few other variations.
I was disappointed by the lack of solutions, options or results- I thought they would be jumping out screaming for attention. Some references to CBT. I suppose that’s what the whole therapy field is about though, what works. We know talking helps, the quality of the therapeutic alliance is important. We can give clients the acceptance they didn’t get as they share repressed elements of themselves. And it’s not a science. I would like to see some research though, maybe I will dig deeper.
There’s a book inside me wanting to come out. Maybe I could go beyond my self consciousness and do some YouTube videos too. I want to compile all my tools into one place. I felt a tinge of anxiety there. Breathe, feel and surrender. Let’s see what emerges.