*deep breath* Here it is – the one I didn’t want to write. A post on self-compassion; the thing I’m absolutely one of the WORST EVER at. Publicly so, to the point where people I know have looked askance at me and questioned why I would choose to make life difficult for myself by choosing a topic for ‘1000 Voices Speak for Compassion’, which is so alien to me.
I’ve taken the feedback offered in early life, established it as empirical evidence of my own repellence, and now take the publicly-acceptable-and-almost-expected “Oh, I’m my own worst critic” to levels of self-loathing which have sometimes made friends-and-relations worry for my safety.
Cards on the table: I grew up in an emotionally abusive household which has left me hating the person I was then, and trying to ensure I never return to *that* character; I’m married to a man whose chronic illness has resulted in rejections which have brought me to my knees; I’ve had two miscarriages (and because of Husby’s treatment-related infertility, the Neverborns look set to be our only children) which rendered me convinced that I couldn’t be a mother because I didn’t deserve it, or wasn’t capable; and I’m currently combatting anxiety with meds, and am having therapy for an eating disorder because an association of ‘fat’ with ‘*that* character’ has been sufficiently strong to make me believe that I’m unacceptable if I’m pudgy (which I still am, because I sabotage my attempts to lose weight, just so I’m not winning at anything).
In a lot of ways, I’m a mess. But the way I consistently find I’m MOST a mess, is when these things rise up and take over. I hold myself to exacting standards and fail to achieve them, which gives me reason to beat myself up, and it’s a disgusting, self-obsessed, and frankly, BORING cycle.
My poor friends-and-relations have possibly heard more from me about how much I dislike myself than anything else. I hear myself talking about it (again) and realise just how lucky I am that they put up with me, and wonder WHY they put up with me, because in the moment, I can’t see a single good reason for them to stay.
It leaves me wondering what I GET out of all that self-hatred. What does it fuel and empower that I’m somehow hooked into?
An uncomfortable question, because living inside my brain is incredibly painful sometimes, and the thought that I’m doing this to myself for a purpose, because there’s some need in me that it fulfils, is horrid.
It’s to do with rejection, and my absolute terror of it.
I learned early on that humour and self-deprecation could be mitigating factors against rejection. If I put myself down, people would laugh. Laughter is good because it probably means that people aren’t going to be extra-unkind. Laughter also means that they probably agreed…which meant it was good that I trashed myself, because if they had done it first, it would have been more hurtful. At some point the humour dropped by the wayside and it stopped being about survival, because circumstances changed. Instead it became habit.
Habit to self-hate.
Habit to distrust others.
Habit to fear.
It got to the point where kindness was taken with a pinch of salt and the assumption that for some reason, the nice person was indulging me. Or humouring me. Compliments were expertly ducked. Failures chalked up as examples of my inability to be the thing I so desperately wanted to be – an acceptable human being. Nay, not merely ‘acceptable’ though, for in my heart of hearts I wanted to be admirable; attractive; lovable. Worthy.
In the very centre of my being I yearned for affirmation, acknowledgement and love, as we all do.
The stupid thing is, in order to achieve those dangerous-feeling goals because how could *I* possibly be ANY of those things? To anyone? Don’t be ridiculous! I decided that I was going to behave differently – I was going to start being NICE.
I’ve tried so hard. And…here’s the amazing bit – I’ve SUCCEEDED.
There are people In Real and around the Blogosphere, with whom I’ve connected well enough that they’re willing to pin their colours to the wall and tell me they love me. Genuinely so. And they offer encouragement and compliments and constructive feedback because they choose to. Because they care.
And I, in my most wicked moments, can discount nearly all of them and tell myself the lovely words don’t belong to me, not really, because I’m awful.
WHERE DOES IT GET ME? How much convincing do I need? How many safety nets is it going to take for me to step out from behind the lies and assumed inadequacies and just face life BRAVELY? How many shoulders am I going to have to lean on before I realise the truth?
I am worthwhile.
And the only reason I don’t see it is because I’m lacking in self-compassion. Because I’m afraid. Fear keeps me trapped. It keeps me stupid. It keeps me boring and self-obsessed and navel-gazing. It prevents me from acknowledging that my friends-and-relations are intelligent, discerning human beings, and they still choose me. It reinforces the neural pathways my brain has been taking for too many years and it prevents me from loving others to the best of my ability because I’m not able to be comfortable in myself:
Comfortable in my failings and imperfections, because yaknow what? Everyone’s got them.
Comfortable in my inconsistencies and inadequacies and broken bits, because they’re explainable and I can continue in spite of them, and try to limit their damage.
Comfortable in the (currently Uncomfortable) knowledge that I am a (mostly) good person, and that there are some things I’m very good at.
Comfortable in the realisation that the thing I want to do most in life is love people, because it’s important and it matters and it makes a difference – acting with love and compassion and connection and the acknowledgement that each person is worthwhile; affirming them as a valuable human being; and validating that with my behaviour, is what life is all about. We’re stronger together.
So it’s simple, in a way: self-compassion is the thing which will break the bonds of fear and allow me to love; freely, gloriously, effortlessly, and without getting tied up in the ‘what do they think of me’, because what matters is how *I* act and respond. And those are the only things I have the right and ability to control.
I want to choose love, so I have to learn self-compassion.
Stick with me – I’m nothing if not determined – because there’s something I’m certain of:
In the end, LOVE WINS.
1000Speak started with an understanding that even though we might get older, we still all need the metaphorical village around us, and the compassion of others in our lives. Then the sudden thought happened – what if 1000 of us wrote about compassion all at once? From there, the movement has taken on its own life; has burgeoned and grown and spread a whole lot of love and connection and ‘villageyness’.
Spread the love using the hashtag #1000Speak
Join the 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion group on Facebook.
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Click the blue button below to add your post, and THANK YOU for being part of this, you amazing thing *mwah*