My mind can be my best friend or my worst enemy. In the day, it is my best friend as I can ‘control’ it, have the energy and power to dispel negative thoughts with good ones. I focus on my mountain and the view I know is there from the top. I imagine myself running down the hill the other side, breathless, laughing, legs just about keeping up with the momentum and speed…. And finally landing in a crumpled, happy mess at the bottom, lying on my back, looking at my pink house framed by the blue sky, breathing heavily in between bursts of laughter. I am light and free.
But while I am still here, on this side, the pull of the safety of the ocean bed, the pull of the string to the black box gets tighter, stronger, the tension causing the ache to become more of an acute pain. My instinct is to run harder and sprint to the top; perhaps forcing the thread to snap, my connection to the past to drop away?
In my therapy session today, she helped me see that the cord is representative of the tension and anxiety I feel because I am naturally goal orientated, and driven to succeed. I want my happy new life. Yet the threat of my past experience, recent shocks and the magnitude of the details still unknown is preventing from moving forward, fearing that not knowing every detail will cause an unwelcome, unmitigated risk of failure, repeated devastating shock in the future.
The forced breaking of the two apart she says is not what needs to happen, as much as I want it to. And that I need to introduce a third dynamic – not focus on goals or the future, not worry about the threat of the past, but a more gentle practice with more compassion, more self-care, for while she recognises that I am angry, the majority of the anger is directed at myself, my shame, my foolishness.
So perhaps while I have been allowing myself some respite and rest physically, I haven’t relaxed on the mental side. Perhaps even the physical rest has allowed more ‘space’ for mental abuse and hence a recent relapse.
People advise me ‘Don’t look back’, but that is just the modern way of brushing things under the carpet. A new way to ignore upsetting memories, unhelpfully suppressing strong emotions.
Having to retell and relive my story for the first time in a long time today was difficult. Even in my bad days, I have been steadfastly focussing on living in the moment with my incredibly beautiful sons and the incredibly exciting future plans, mentally replacing each little speck of reminder dust with a current positive thought or future plan; mentally brushing it under the carpet. Chastising myself for being so stupid, berating myself for not being over it all by now and pushing myself harder to get up that mountain.
I learnt so much about self care, self compassion when Mumbo died; I applied many of the techniques in the early days and months, but as we made future plans, I became exasperated with myself and forgot those simple things, or rushed through them. I internalised my anger at him as I knew how much it upset him, exhausted him and us both, and took the hit myself, frustrated by my overwhelming trust, calling myself stupid and naïve, ignorant, an idiot then and now.
#breakingbadhabits was important to get me up and out, to live and find pleasure in small things again, but perhaps in doing so, I didn’t give myself enough time to heal while I was moving forward; I pushed it all to the back of my mind, under the carpet in order to move on.
Today, my therapist lifted up that carpet. It wasn’t pretty. And she told me that it wouldn’t be able to leave it in Ashfield Paddock as I had hoped.