I went to a session today on self-compassion.
It was actually my idea. It was supposed to be an orientation group for new people, but no one was going and the other groups were getting full. So the lead therapist asked what group topic people wanted to cover instead, and for some reason, I blurted out self-compassion.
I say “for some reason” because I’ve been avoiding self-compassion groups when they’ve been offered. I hate self-compassion. I understand it on an intellectual level, but in practice it feels like one of the hardest things in the world, something I’d rather not (and don’t) bother with.
I don’t know why I said it. Perhaps it was the pain medication kicking in. Perhaps it’s because I wanted to learn how to be compassionate towards myself as I’m learning once again how to navigate the world on crutches. Or maybe another part of me knew it was needed. Regardless of the reason, I said it, and everyone was in agreement.
It was a good group. We each picked out a random card from some kind of motivational collection and shared it with the group. I happened to pick the card with the quote:
“Those who bring sunshine into the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.”
Well, shit. Isn’t that applicable to me in so many ways? I spend my days making people smile and laugh. I devote part of my life to supporting others with DID, as well as those who have survived female-perpetrated abuse. I bring the sunshine to others how ever I can; I think I always have. Yet I live in darkness. I give all I can to everyone else, but I keep the support, the goodness, the sunshine from myself. I never really thought about much before until then. Where is my sunshine? Where is my light? It has to be somewhere.
Then there was a writing activity. I usually enjoy writing, but I had a feeling writing about something connected to self-compassion was going to be too much for me. I hesitated, even huffed and puffed once I heard we were writing something (which was ironic, considering I had suggested weeks before to have more writing activities in groups).
We were directed to write an “I am” poem
. I had never written one before. It is meant to follow a specific structure, but the therapist said we didn’t have to follow it exactly. The paper had 18 lines, each beginning with I (something) followed by blank space to fill in. I thought the suggested structure was a bit much, so I strayed away from following the guidelines and went with how I felt, still keeping the first two words, but continuing with my own inclinations.
We sat in silence writing out our own poems. Once everyone was finished, we had the option to share. A few people shared theirs, and I sat there looking over my poem, judging what I had written. My writing was dark. Maybe too dark. Did I do this right? I hesitated sharing, as I had done weeks before
. But I took a breath and started to read.
I read the first line out loud and everyone laughed. I thought to myself laugh now, because it gets bad quickly. I waited for the laughter to settle down and I continued to read. I shook a bit, but I didn’t stop. I made it through to the end, looked up and across the room to see one of the women crying. I wanted to apologize, but I caught myself first. I didn’t need to be sorry for someone else’s emotional reaction. I learned that here.
I covered my face with the paper to hide my own tears. I pushed the emotions back down. I wanted to speak but my words were stuck somewhere in the abyss of my mind. All I could get out was “I’m good, I’m okay.” I was spent. Emotionally, physically, and psychologically. It’s very easy for me to write, but not nearly as easy to speak my words out loud. It’s still new to me, still hard to do. But I did it.
I am moderately intelligent and mildly conscious.
I wonder what it’s like to not live in fear.
I hear my mother’s voice inside my head.
I see darkness wherever I go.
I want to know how to experience joy.
I am afraid of life.
I pretend to be happier than I really am.
I feel anxious all the time.
I touch my pen to write my thoughts on paper.
I worry about what the future will bring.
I cry when no one sees.
I am unsure of the world around me.
I understand that I cannot be perfect.
I say that I’m okay when I’m really not.
I dream of a different life of freedom.
I try to be better than what she wanted me to be.
I hope I can change the world some day.
I am trying to be me.