Visits from old friend

5 Oct

You all know that Simon & Garfunkle song that starts out with “Hello darkness my old friend…”?  Well, this past weekend I ran into my ex on the street.  The experience has really opened up wounds that have yet to heal.  But what I am noticing is that the biggest wound is one that unfortunately I have been carrying around with me my whole life, that is, way way way before I met my ex.  I have been reading a book called Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach.  My therapist gave it to me when I first ended the relationship, and I went through it then, but honestly could not remember too much of it, other than the importance of just learning to accept the moment of now.  The part that I forgot (and now that I am reading it again, I see is vital) is compassion.

You see, I have always dealt with anxiety – ever since I was a child – and quite honestly, I think it just comes from this place deep within me that does not like myself.  It is so sad to admit, but true.  Anxiety has manifested itself in my stomach – tightening itself into a tiny fist – an ugly, black and hairy circle of fear.  When I saw the ex again, it returned, and I realize that what I am really afraid of is my reaction to having seen him!  I was hating the way that I felt, that I felt scared, angry, terrified – but these are the exact same feelings that I need to have compassion for – instead of trying to brace myself against them, or do something to manage them or make them go away, I have to console them.  After doing some of the visualization exercises that I read about in the book, and have practiced a few times with my therapist, I am now imagining these feelings & sensations in the pit of my stomach (this tangle of anger, fear, and sadness) as a tiny black kitten – it is dirty and hungry and mewing for attention.  If I do not pay attention to it, it screams even more – I am here! Help me!  Hold me!  I am sad, and lonely and afraid, clean me, feed me, stroke me and keep me warm.  As she becomes more and more desperate for attention, she takes out her tiny claws and begins to shred at the insides of the pit of my stomach.  I want her to stop, so I shut down my stomach, I lose my appetite, I become nauseous and more anxious, I smoke a cigarette in the hopes that the kitten will go to sleep.

What I now want, is to hold that little kitten that is actually me. I am so sorry (I am crying as I write this) that I have ignored you (me) for so long, and have been so harsh on myself, beaten up on myself so many times for having feelings that are mine and authentic and true, that I mistakenly judged as being “weak” “crazy” “deficient” and/or “wrong”.  I am so sorry that I was so neglectful, for so many years, and I am learning to forgive myself.

So now I visualize the kitten – I am beginning to hold her close, and stroke her – feed her warm, nutritive things and thoughts, and beginning to gently clean her up.  I am holding her close and whispering, it is ok – I am here, and I know you are sad, and scared and very angry, and these are hard things to feel.  They suck.  You feel awful.

I want to hold that little neglected cat, and have her eventually go out to play, knowing she can always come in and find solace.  I want to be that solace.

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