20 May DEAR ME: MOVING FROM CRITIC TO COMPASSION
“the archive” may 20, 2017
“I don’t know what’s wrong with me, I keep screwing up my life.” Tears well up and spill over, spreading streaks of mascara as dark as my soul.
“That’s true,” she says. “Why can’t you get it together?”
“Maybe there’s something wrong with me,” I whisper. “Maybe I am too sensitive, too needy, too everything I’m not supposed to be, and not enough of everything else. Maybe there’s something about me that makes people hurt me… maybe I deserve to be hurt.”
“Probably,” she says. “You’ve been pretty hurtful yourself. You could be a real b**ch sometimes, you know?”
“I didn’t mean to.” I wipe my eyes with the back of my hand, then stare at the mascara mess on my skin. Looks like my life.
“Doesn’t matter.” She gets real close, so I can’t miss a word. “It’s all your fault. It’s always been your fault and nothing you do or say now matters. You’ve failed and now you are irrelevant. Compassion’s deleted your name from its contacts and Love’s left the building. You’re on your own.”
Who talks like that? Especially to someone we love? Yeah, you guessed it- we do.
Self harm isn’t always on the outside.
I have a friend who began purposely poking at the tender emotional wounds of the two people he knew best. One of the two was me. After repeated instances of having my triggers triggered (I just like saying triggers triggered. It feels good to say it aloud. Five times fast- GO), I said no more. My friend owned his crap, sincerely apologized, and worked on his root issues causing that behavior.
If we do that to ourselves, if we poke at the pain and use it to belittle and demean our Selves, it’s time to say no more. Own the critical voice and work to replace it with one of compassion. Find the voice that acknowledges your weaknesses and failures and gently encourages you to try again tomorrow, to learn how to do better next time, to allow yourself to be human, and to always find the hope.
Silence the voice of the critic and tune in to the voice of the compassionate.
This is one of the things I’m working on, as I continue my crash course in self improvement. I recently signed up for Intention Inspired’s 30 Days Challenge. They send an email each day that includes a journal prompt. One of these has you write a note to yourself from the perspective of an unconditionally loving imaginary friend. The day’s focus was compassion, so I decided to write myself a note from myself instead.
Compassionate me is much louder than the critic these days and it’s good.
I see you. You’ve been through a lot in your 46 years. You’ve experienced more of the darker side of humanity than your tender heart can comprehend. You’ve been misunderstood and mistreated. You’ve been rejected again and again.
The wounds of your past have bled all over your present. You’ve acted in ways you’re ashamed of. You’ve said things driven by fear rather than love, and betrayed your very Self. You were blind to the pain you caused again and again.
Others have failed you and you’ve failed yourself and others. I know that pain runs deep.
Grieve the pain you’ve caused, the times you’ve masked fear with anger, the times you’ve acted contrary to your Core Values- rejecting and abandoning your Self. Grieve, and then use that intense empathy of yours on yourself. Consider your perspective at the time. Your motivations, your circumstances, your insecurities and fears- your Inner Child huddled in a corner hiding from her Monsters- and allow the compassion to sink in as deep as the pain. Hold that child and tell her she’s worth fighting for.
Then grieve the pain others have caused you, the times they’ve masked fear with anger- in some cases wounding both body and soul. Grieve the times you’ve been rejected and abandoned by those who claimed to love you. Grieve, and then use that intense empathy to consider these deep wounds. Yes, even that one. Especially that one. Was that even about you? Or were you the unfortunate victim of another’s projection of their own pain? Isn’t that what you did? Oh, I know you didn’t do THAT and never would. It’s the mindset that’s comparable here, not the action. Even a pinch of compassion can act as a salve to the wound.
This isn’t about disowning the pain they’ve caused, this is about grace and understanding. For you.
You’re a sensitive, loving, relentlessly hopeful woman wanting to be seen, understood, and treasured for who you are, despite your failures. You’re worth fighting for and I’m not giving up on you.