It appears I’m finally indoctrinated into my therapist’s TA approach.
I don’t know why, but I decided to spend some time thinking and writing about what my child and adult self would feel or say about each other. This led to the realisation that I am violently at war with myself.
I’ve known for a while that I’m confused and conflicted. I am very much aware of my persistent sense of self-loathing. I’m always so angry with myself and so harshly critical of what I say and do. But I never considered how deep-rooted this conflict is. I never framed it in parts, looking at the various aspects of the hatred I feel.
So I sat down to write something, trying to get into the voice of that child. I wanted to let her speak, because she didn’t say so much for so long. She spent too many years choking on words she didn’t want trapped inside her but was too afraid to say.
It is useful to me in this sort of situation to just write exactly what comes into my head. Letting the stream of consciousness run. That’s what I did.
What the pen left on those pages was rage, hatred and disappointment. Not at all the adults that failed her back then, but at me for failing her now. She is livid that after all the work she put in to contain everything and keep our family together, my recent inability to cope has back-tracked on all her struggles. It has all unraveled.
She spent her whole life working to please everyone, to be perfect in their eyes, keep her loved ones happy and meet expectations. She hates me because I’ve let her down. And I hate her because I am so disgusted by what she was part of when she was too young to know better.
That pervasive feeling stops me being kind to myself. It blocks any self-compassion I might find to make me safer in my suffering. I can’t stand the thought of that abused child being part of me – I don’t want to know her. I can’t even look at photos of her without feeling nauseous. I won’t let myself picture her.
I’ve got so accustomed to routinely numbing, avoiding and distracting, I suppose I’ve managed to partition these parts effectively. But being devoid of compassion for myself means self-obliteration always lurks on the horizon. And it can seem like the easy choice. Because the alternative is finding a way to reconcile those parts, figuring out how to love myself, both now and then.
That feels like a very big ask.