A response from Gwennie

Dear Shadow,

Do you remember how hard I tried to fit in?  To just be like everyone else? Even before then I wore that blanket of shame and guilt that he poured onto me like melted plastic.  I know I was unlovable but no one noticed my pain. Even you threw me in a box and tried to bury me alive. You would beat me up on a routine basis.  You screamed at me, disfiguring me with razors, and poisoned me. Are you that afraid of me? I wanted someone to listen to me but you thought you knew better.  Did I deserve this injustice? Am I that evil that someone had to teach me a lesson?

You speak of forgiveness?  I was abandoned and left to rot in all that fear, anger and confusion that drowned me like a flood.  I had a one way ticket to hell. I was helpless and afraid. I couldn’t even speak or stand up for myself.  I know it was my fault that he continued to abuse me for years. I looked up to him and even though I trembled with fear that he would touched me, still I wanted to be around him.  All the while, wanting to stay away but couldn’t.

Do you remember that time when he cared for me?  I was sick…vomiting. He got a cold wash cloth and wiped my forehead.  In that moment I thought he liked me. As soon as I recovered, I realized that believing he really cared was only so he could take care of his own selfish needs.  I knew I was not safe with anyone no matter how much they pretended to like me. All of them are just like him.

So you want forgiveness?  Tell me Shadow, do you think I trust you?

Gwennie

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

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

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

Beyond the mask…nothing

My delay in writing has been due to moving into a cabin in the woods that I was excited about a couple of weeks ago.  It is such a lovely, quiet place. Unlike the dwelling of the Unabomber, my cabin has more than one room, running water and electricity…and I am not seeking a primitive lifestyle; only quiet, semi-seclusion.  For the record, I have no interest in making bombs either. These days, I’m more of a hazard to myself than others.

I have been contemplating the question by my therapist: “Who am I when I am not wearing a mask?”  I am still no closer to an answer than I was in 1986 when I first began therapy. Seems it is automatic for me to define “self” according to whatever behavior I may be engaging in at the time or whatever emotion I might be experiencing at any given moment.  

Several months ago, I attempted to discover self through meditation.  According to some Youtube videos, I could achieve this by “looking within”.  Although I must admit, I don’t know where “within” is exactly. I don’t see anything when I “look within”…just blank.  My therapist suggested that I might have a “blockage” and that could be why I can’t “see within”. Blockage? Why can’t it be that there’s nothing there?  Where am I supposed to be going, anyway? I’m not even clear how meditation works. Perhaps it requires a different skill set I have not yet acquired.

I am pretty good at psychological projection onto inanimate objects though.  Which I suspect is somewhat akin to religion. Speaking of which, I wrote a type of poem about the goddess Morrigan after reading about her through the study of Celtic mythology and beliefs.  It is a mixture of how she is portrayed by others, as well as my own search for self and attempt to see beyond my own mask.

Morrigan, Morrigan

Phantom queen.

Binding my fate

And setting the scene.

Morrigan, Morrigan

The one not clear.

Challenging me

To overcome my fear.

Morrigan, Morrigan

Who ignores demands.

They run through my fingers

Like grains of sand.

Morrigan, Morrigan

Weaver of time.

Creating a mountain

Then hurrying me to climb.

Morrigan, Morrigan

Shifter of shape.

Constant lessons

I cannot escape.

Morrigan, Morrigan

The one who knows.

I follow your path

But see only shadows.

Morrigan, Morrigan

I must open my eyes

If I’m to see you

Beyond your reflected guise.

©Shadow

Defining self

I am struggling to fully understand what my therapist meant by asking me to consider the question: “Who am I when I am not wearing a mask?”  Up to this point in my life, I have primarily defined myself by what I was feeling or what I was doing. So my therapist told me it was more than that and I must dig deeper.  So people are not defined by their behavior? This is confusing.

I even attempted to get the answer by looking up the definition of self in a dictionary.  An individual person as the object of his or her own reflective consciousness.   Or even this: a person or thing referred to with respect to complete individuality: one’s own self.  The definition is just as vague as the term.

My therapist asked me “Who are you when no one is watching?”  I responded “What am I doing when no one is watching?” That is when she told me I must dig deeper.

I don’t understand.  I have often viewed “self” as some external entity that takes over during my worst states.  Kind of like spirit possession. All of my worst traits dwell there; as well as my worst emotions.  They are like a virus that creep in and infect me when I am vulnerable.

I do not know when I came up with the above idea of self.  But my therapist tells me that is not self. Hmmmm. I am totally baffled then.  How is it not a feeling or behavior? Those things I understand…well, I mostly recognize, at least.

In any case, if anyone out there has a different definition understanding of self that you think might be helpful for me, please share it in the comments.  It would be greatly appreciated.

-Shadow