So, like I said in my last post, it’s only been two weeks since my move and despite all the blahs, I have had a couple good lessons and reminders in this short amount of time.
Compassion: Being compassionate with myself and having a witness self are the same thing. It’s when I’m having negative thoughts or feelings and not drowning in them, but being able to observe/witness myself and be compassionate to myself. It feels like so long ago that I was able to even begin to be compassionate with myself. It’s such an abstract concept to me.
My therapist and I re-visited this a few visits ago since I was deep in my rut and spinning my wheels. I was telling her how hard this is for me to do even though I understand what she’s talking about. When I’m having a negative thought or emotion, I start off my being compassionate to myself, but then it turns into some kind of surrendering to the emotion/thought.
For example, if I start to feel alone I tell myself that it’ll be okay and that I’m just feeling this way right now and it’s not forever. Then I fall into “See, this is that same situation you’ve always had, It’s never going to change. You’ll always be alone.” She reminded me that I can’t expect to be compassionate all the time or that it’s going to be easy as I am new to the concept and being cruel to myself is a well honed skill I have. Only in practice will I get better at it. But you see, all this practicing something that is so new and abstract is exhausting. I collapse from the exhaustion when I practice it, which leaves me feeling that I can’t do this.
I recalled to her a time when my grand-nephew was a toddler and just learning how to walk. he took a few steps and stumbled and she started to chuckle and said “Aye stupid!” I was so angry with her for that. Then my therapist asked “Do you realize you do that to yourself? Every time you feel or do something that isn’t what you want you call yourself stupid.” I suppose every time I can’t be compassionate with myself I call myself stupid. We treat ourselves the way we were treated. No wonder I have such a hard time being compassionate to myself. It’s a foreign concept.
The one night after an ACA workbook meeting, we did a short meditation on the concept of sanity. During my meditation I could immediately questioned “what is sanity?” I answered with, “Well, it when I’m balanced – happy”. Then I remembered something that I haven’t thought of for so many years. I remembered when I was a kid (no older than 10) and my father and I were at the cemetery walking to fill a vase with water. As we reached the curb my father said to me “I remember when you were a little girls and you were learning your numbers. You were walking on the curb counting the numbers “1, 2, 3…” He sounded so proud in re-calling that moment. What I realized was that was the only time that I can remember my dad being compassionate with me. I was a child, being genuinely who I was, and he didn’t criticize me, judge me, tell me be quiet, or negate me.
When I processed this with my therapist later what I realized was that it wasn’t the memory that telling, it was the fact that my father thought enough of that moment that he was re-calling it to me years after it had happened. It also gave me something tangible to work with when it comes to trying to be compassionate with myself. Although I have some examples of how to do this from teachers or my uncle being compassionate with me, it was my father’s example that has more impact for me. I guess there is something to the saying that “only the person who you can take away the pain”.
I still questioned this though. I wondered if this experience was less helpful to me than if I had come to it on my own (rather than my father being the conduit). I mean, should I be healing myself? Finding the strength within myself? Then my therapist reminded me that I was never shown how to be compassionate with myself. “How can you learn to be compassionate with yourself when you were not treated that way?” True. No wonder I always feel like it;s so difficult, some abstract concept that I’m just making up as I go along. Funny thing is I can be compassionate to others, just not to myself.
Acceptance: During a day-long meditation, we had a short discussion at the end of the day. The topic of accepting things as they are came up and I just went into a “oh damn” moment. I realized immediately that I do not, and do not want to accept things as they are in my life right now. Not one bit. I hate my life situation right now, My job, where I live, my lack of passion, my financial situation, my loneliness and depression. No, these things I do not want to accept. I’m one to put into effect a plan of action whenever I’m in a situation I don’t like, but this time, I have no plan. I have no idea what to do!
I asked “when do you know when to change things and when to let things be?” Then a woman later came up to me and told me “once you have fully accepted things as they are, then you will be open to greater insight on how to skillfully move forward.” Damn, I knew I was gonna have to accept this situation. “even” as my teacher said “if the acceptance comes with claw marks”.