ACK! I’ve been trying to write this for DAYS! Alright, two days, but it still counts because it’s plural. Technically three, ackshewally, because the first attempt was scrawled on the back of a knitting pattern in a campervan. But it comes out shit every time, maybe because I try to explain things too much and I haven’t had enough sleep for that. So here’s the less articulate version.
We’re doing values in therapy, right. Mmmhmm, fine, what the fuck is that? It’s the things I really care about, the things I want to define my life, to define who I am. I could go on about how hard this bit of the therapy is and how much I’m not enjoying it but I’ll pick on one bit of it instead of brain farting all over the keyboard for days.
Kindness is one of my values. I want kindness to be stamped on me so it’s the first thing anyone sees. I want to be kind. I want the people I love to be treated kindly. I get very angry when I see unkindness and I want to undo it. If I had to overhear someone describe me (which I hope I never do because eurgh) I’d want them to say I’m kind.
But I am violent.
This is like a horrible tear inside me. I want to be one thing but I am another. And as I thought that I remembered a verse from the Bible, something Paul says about himself: “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” (Romans 7:15)
Violent might not be a word people would use to describe me because it’s not like I go about talking about the thoughts and images in my head, although I have a bit and some of you know. A psychiatrist once described my thoughts as obsessive and violent (in a graphic imagery sense, not an axe-wielding murderer sense). I’m not turning this post into a confession, it’s not about that. It’s about the one thing and the other thing and how can both be true? Every time I have a horrible thought I get distressed and think, how can I be kind when I just thought that? I’d better scrub kindness off the values list. When a counter kind thought appears, even if it’s a thought that makes me feel intensely sad, I am relieved.
I do all sorts of things to not be a horrible person. I ‘fess up, I apologise, I check things and ask things and other things but essentially, it’s one thing or the other, it can’t be both. I’m either kind or violent, can’t be both.
And then along comes therapy and blows my mind. And now I’m in a battle of wills. It’s like when you first get glasses and all of a sudden you can see stuff a bit better and it makes you wince a bit because it’s too sharp and clear. Therapy makes me see stuff and it gives me alternatives so every time I have a thought I have to choose. It’s not just the thoughts of today’s post either, it’s all of them, FFS. This shit is the opposite of everything ever.
To change tack a bit, there’s a meditation I tried out a few days ago. I was sitting in a camping chair with trees all around me and I thought I’d give it a go, even though it’s different from what I’ve been doing so far. It’s about loving kindness and it turns out it’s a Buddhist thing, so I went slowly so I could assess it as I went along. It’s the first time anything religious has entered my mindfulness practice.
Anyway, get back to the point, Narky, FFS. I chose the loving kindness one because I was thinking about this kindness-violence thing. I didn’t actually finish the whole thing because it started to rain and then I went inside and banged my head on the ceiling and then I banged my knee on the table and knocked the table off its slot on the wall and then I couldn’t get it back on the wall and then I swore a lot and then I wasn’t in the mood to be loving or kind so I watched Come Dine With Me and swore at the people on that.
I managed about 25 minutes of the mediation. And I really liked it. I adapted it as I went along. First the man said to imagine someone who loves me unconditionally and at first I thought of Mr Narky but then I thought of Jesus and I stayed with him instead. It was Easter and last Easter was so monumentally awful and it was playing on my mind and I felt down and wondered if Easter would ever be free of that again so I hoped that maybe this might help me to bring Jesus back into Easter for me, see if he could replace my own suicide.
So I imagined Jesus loving me unconditionally and I imagined what that felt like, to be loved. I imagined lots of things. And I felt that I was allowed to imagine these things because therapy has given me permission for kindness to be directed towards myself as well as towards others. I can at least practise when I’m sitting on a camping chair surrounded by trees, at Easter.
The man in my mp3 player then told me to imagine that I was giving this unconditional love to people, as well as receiving it. And I thought of loving Jesus and I remembered that Jesus said that the most important commandments are to love God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength, and to love my neighbour as myself. So I imagined what it might be like to love him with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. And then I brought to mind some of the people I love and I imagined directing my love at them. And then I imagined some of the people who have hurt me and I directed a teeny bit of love at them, or rather, I imagined an expanding circle of love coming from Jesus and me sitting next to each other, and gradually encompassing more people in it.
And then I thought, but that loving my neighbour thing, it has that bit at the end, about loving them as myself. Love and kindness, love and kindness, love and kindness. If I love other people as I love myself, I can’t be doing a very good job of loving them. So although I didn’t practise loving myself, because I don’t know what that looks like, I did practise kindness towards myself. Not in a wanky self-care way. But in a way that fits with the person I want to be. I want to be kind. So I kindly allowed myself to imagine Jesus giving me a cuddle. I kindly allowed myself to imagine Jesus smiling at me. I kindly allowed myself to imagine Jesus whispering ssshhhhhh to me.
There were some words to repeat:
May I be safe and protected and free from inner and outer harm.
May I be happy and contented.
May I be healthy and whole to whatever degree possible.
May I experience ease of wellbeing.
I knew I didn’t feel comfortable with these words, because they are like wishes and I don’t believe wishes mean anything. So I decided, as I was imagining Jesus, to turn them into prayers. I prayed:
May I be rooted and established in love.
May I know how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ for me.
May I know that the God who called me is faithful and he will do it.
These are Biblical verses from Ephesians and 1 Thessalonians. After praying these words for myself, I prayed them for other people as I imagined the circle of love expanding outwards from me and Jesus.
Then I went inside out of the rain and did all the banging and swearing.
I wrote about that meditation in this post because it’s one way of addressing my inability to live with both the kindness and the violence inside me. It’s one way. It’s really, really hard, I can’t describe how hard. To try to move away from the I AM KIND or I AM VIOLENT mindset, the mindset that makes me fight to not be violent. I’m going to try it again because it was also one way of being able to learn how to pray and that was very satisfying because I’m not very good at praying. Maybe because it’s a very kind thing to do.