The voice in the head

In early Feburary, I mention in the post The Buddha and the Borderline that I was exploring meditation and mindfulness techniques. I wanted to know what was going on inside, behind the constant chatter in my head. Those thoughts that are always running, like a commentary on everything I see and experience.

I began with five minute meditations…at first guided meditations as outlined in a journal by Habitnest called The Meditation Sidekick Journal: A Practical Guide to Exploring Mindfulness. I had decided that if I could not change all that was going on in my life, at least I could get to the point that I could accept it. More importantly, I could get to know myself, whoever “self” is.

From the beginning of these meditation practices, I became acutely aware that more mental chatter lied beneath the surface. Now that I am aware that this running commentary is even worse than I could of possibly imagined, it is rather annoying. Because now, I am more aware that there is more commentary swirling around in my head even when I am not meditating. Sometimes I even think I was better off before I became aware of this. At least before meditating, I didn’t know there was THAT MUCH chatter.

As annoying as that is, according to Buddhist nun Ven. Robina Courtin, being aware of the above mentioned excessive chatter is a sign of success when beginning meditation. And since she has been doing it for a very long time and I am a beginner –and I have no way to rebuke her claim…I have to conclude that she is probably right.

So my goal now is –strange that I am setting a goal as I have always lived life flying by the seat of my pants –my goal is that eventually I will be able to use some of this internal chatter to make adjustments and changes in my life. To date, I have discovered that I make A LOT of judgments about every single thing and A LOT of assumptions to which I have not empirical data to back it up. All of it is solely based on the voice in my head. But I must keep going to see what else I might discover on the path.

So this journey continues…

Shadow

It takes courage

TRIGGER WARNING: The contents of this post may contain triggers for those who have suffered childhood traumas.  Proceed with caution.

In each of us, there is a young, suffering child. -Thich Nhat Hanh

Letter to inner child part 2

 

Dear Gwennie,

I remember the first time he abused you. Well, it is the first memory I have of the abuse. You were standing in your grandmother’s bathroom with your pants down around your ankles and he whispered in your ear “If you tell anyone, I will tell them it was your fault”. I saw everything from outside of you. I saw the terror on your face but I felt the fear inside of me that had frozen you. I watched you as you walked into the living room where you saw your grandmother rocking your baby sister…she was an infant. Terror still on your face, but no one noticed. You couldn’t of been older than six since you were that age when your sister was born.

It was not your fault Gwennie. You were just a kid. And it does no good for me to keep blaming him. Blaming him will not erase this pain. You just need to know it was not your fault. You didn’t do anything to provoke him.

It wasn’t your fault that you didn’t tell anyone. You were afraid and you believed him when he said he would tell everyone it was your fault. Because you believed it was your fault and some part of you still believes it.

You suffered in silence for a long time, but as you got older, you found the courage to change everything.

Like one time when you were 12 and he was invited on a family camping trip. You had returned to the camper earlier to sleep while everyone else talked and laughed around the campfire. He awoke you from sleep by fondling you. You had on those red and white striped pajamas you loved so much that unzipped from the back. It was very convenient for him since you had your back turned to him. When you realized what he was doing, you turned to face him and then punched him with all the strength within you. Your brother was there too but he could not see because everything was dark. Again, he touched you and you attacked him, punching him over and over in a fit of rage. He said to your brother, “she keeps hitting me”, to which you yelled, “Tell him why I am hitting you!” He fell silent and that was the last time he ever abused you.

It took courage for you to stand up to him after all those years. I am proud of you. He can’t hurt you anymore and you are safe now.

Shadow

How do I forgive myself

TRIGGER WARNING:  Those who have suffered childhood traumas may be triggered by the contents of this post.  Please proceed with caution.

A letter to my inner child

Dear Gwennie,

With tears in my eyes I write this to you. I write because I must. I write because, otherwise I do not know how to reach you.

Gwennie, I saw when he had you lying on your back in the woods. I saw his hands when he took leaves to wipe away sperm from your vagina. You were frozen as if dead, but I saw you because I was floating above you. I am sorry I did not help you. I saw when you gagged as he forced you to perform oral sex on him. You could not see me because I was floating above you. I am sorry I did not tell someone what he made you do. I was there in that dark room with you every time he thought he was hiding his deeds under the bedding. I know you thought you were alone, but I was there floating above you. I am sorry I did not speak up or tell anyone he was hurting you.

As time passed, I ignored your tears, your screams, your hurt, and your sadness. It was too painful for me to face. I felt shame and guilt for not helping you because I was frozen too.

You still sit down below somewhere in the darkness. What was once a fearful place for you has now become your only comfort and I can no longer see you. But I know you are there because your memories, your tears, your pain, your sadness, and your screams still torment me.

Gwennie, please don’t be mad at me. I wanted to help you but I was so afraid. Can you ever forgive me? And if so, how do I forgive myself?

Shadow

The Buddha & The Borderline

Several weeks ago I became interested in Buddhism. Long story short, all the various types of meditations and mindfulness practices my counselor had spoken with me about months ago seemed more appealing to me now. One of them, walking meditation, I continued to do on a fairly regular basis. So I was kind of looking online for “other tips” or other practices when I somehow stumbled upon a review of the book “The Buddha & The Borderline” here. This led me to purchase an online course to learn about Mahayana Buddhism from The Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT). It is a two year program that is meant to be a way of life, not to study academically.

It is just what I needed and falls in line with what my counselor and I were discussing in our last episode. I may not be able to make this internal chaos go away but I can recognize it and make it bearable. Recognizing it is what I am currently attempting to do in therapy and meditation and contemplation…”looking within” as she once told me is one way to achieve that.

Strange that Buddha means to be fully awake. Made me think of a song by Katy Perry, so I added below. The song can be interpreted many different ways. But as for being awake, I have just realized that I am asleep.  And so here is to my journey…

-Shadow

Know your why

I went to see my psychiatrist and told him about my father’s death and how I do not know what I am feeling. It seems as though nothing is there. He asked “Do you think your medication is working?” I responded, “medication is 10%, and the other 90% is up to me, isn’t it?”

I am always trying to fill myself up with something so I do not feel the emptiness. It has been a constant feeling throughout my life. That is where addiction comes in, doesn’t it? I don’t choose drugs anymore…now I seek more…”legal” addictions like spending sprees and cycling through religions. Although whether the former is always “legal” is questionable.

So several weeks ago, I decided to take a different approach and began listening to Gregorian chant (again) to help reduce anxiety. Now I have a routine of listening to it in the morning and again in the evening. I do not know what they are saying as it is in Latin but it does not matter. The tone is soothing and I have found it to be beneficial.

For months my counselor has been talking with me about mindfulness and meditation. Both of which I was completely uninterested in until recently. I have engaged with mindfulness before…several years ago and the forms of meditation I have tried to engage in seemed to be fruitless. So, I decided to take a different approach with that as well. Just sit in silence for 5 minutes everyday. I have found that incense helps.

I have the Meditation Sidekick Journal by Habit Nest that has also proven to be useful. The first thing it suggests is to “know your why”. Why do I want to do this? I want peace, that is all I seek. I once told a counselor that I don’t have good days and bad days, I have good hours and bad hours. If I am going to be on a roller coaster because of some illness, I want to make peace with that. If there is just one small chance that I can change it and have more control over the internal chaos and find that sense of peace, I want it. That is my ultimate goal. Before I can acquire this, I must be able to know what I am feeling. To know what this internal dialog is like. What is it saying? Why is it saying it? (Sorry, it is a habit to separate me from my emotions. Separating different parts of me is how I make sense of it.)

So these are the things I have been doing since I wrote last. We will see if I am still doing it in June. It is up to me, isn’t it?

In other news, my long distance friend contacted me today for the second time in… I don’t know how much time has lapsed since I last contacted her. She is the one I mentioned before under Disappearing. Why did I want to abandon her? Because I am afraid. It is easy to never give others a chance to abandon you by abandoning them first and devaluing them makes it easier to walk away. If I am to be totally honest, she has probably been a favorite person for a long time and I didn’t realize it until today. I don’t know how people become favorites, they just do. And when I realize it, it makes that fear of abandonment that much more terrifying.

-Shadow

Preparation for abandonment

A few months ago, my counselor asked how I can prepare myself for when she is no longer available.  She assured me this does not mean she is leaving right now.  I have seen enough county mental health counselors to know, they all leave eventually.  They move on to other jobs…to other cities or states.  And I have difficulty dealing with what I call “being abandoned” especially if it is a favorite person.  My mind interprets it as “they are no longer available” but my emotions interpret it as “they have abandoned me”.

When my mother died in November 2017, I didn’t feel abandoned.  Although, to be honest, I still don’t know how I feel about it.  When my father died in November 2018, I imagined that this must be what it feels like to be an orphan.  Although I suppose an adult can not be orphaned, emotionally I think I am still six.

In any case, below is the list of “how to prepare yourself when a favorite person abandons you” that I came up with December 2018.

  1.  Don’t take it personal.
  2. It may open the door to meet another favorite person in the future.
  3. It is okay to allow yourself to cry about it.
  4. Realize and believe you are not helpless or worthless on your own.
  5. You do not have to blame or punish yourself.
  6. It does not mean you are unlovable.
  7. Pray you don’t come apart at the seams.

Then, this month I came up with this:  O, good grief!  Stop being so dramatic!  It is not the end of the world.  Change is the only thing that is assured.

Numbers 3-7 from the December list comes from a place of emotion.  Numbers 1, 2 and the January 2019 comes from a place of rationalization.  I hope when the time arrives I do not engage in what historically, I seem to automatically do…ignore the emotions.  In the past, I have handled them by telling “self”: “What are you doing here?  Go away, I am busy and have more important matters to attend.”  They go away only in the sense I can no longer recognize them.  If I can not figure it out through reason and logic, it is discounted as unreliable.

Time will tell how I will respond when the moment arrives and I will see if this preparation has been worth it.

-Shadow

Borderline Psalm 54

My internal chatter leaves me no peace
It shakes me like a rattling can full of coins.
My inner noises and conflicts consume me
Like a roller coaster from hell.

I love you
I hate you
Happiness beyond measure
Sadness beyond consoling
This one
No, that one
It’s good
No, it’s evil…

If I had the wings of a bird
I would fly to the highest tree top and be at rest.
I would flee to the wilderness
To get away from this world.
I would escape
If it did not chase me.

Where can I flee from its presence?
If I sit among friends
I am consumed by thoughts of insecurity and judgments
If I sit alone
I drown in my own sadness.

I am like the blind person
Groping in the darkness
Unable to reconcile
All the pieces within.

-Shadow