What a strange question!
It would never have occurred to me to ask this question and I’m grateful for the prompt – which came from Episode 3 of the Transcendance documentary on Gaia. I needed it.
The monsters are attacking me again. The claws and teeth of judgemental thoughts are scratching and biting.
“Bad mother. Bad wife,” they hiss at me, “You know nothing. Look at you. You’re pathetic. Why don’t you deal with yourself before you start blogging? If you actually knew what you were talking about, you wouldn’t feel this way, would you? Why don’t you just shut up and stop trying to pretend you’re better than you are.”
As you can imagine, the feelings accompanying these thoughts are not feelings of safety.
I know what to do…so why don’t I do it?
You need only read the blogs from the last few weeks to see that knowledge isn’t my problem. I know what to do but knowledge is a product of the mind and the mind can’t work if the body is freaking out.
This question really helped me see the source of the threat that’s causing me to feel unsafe in my own skin; causing the freak out. It’s coming from inside me, sending my body into fight/flight mode, creating illusions and warping reality so everything looks dangerous. I’ve never used the word “anxiety” to describe my feelings but I think that’s what this is.
I guess that’s what brought me to the keyboard this morning – an attempt to switch the lights on and show myself that what I’m dealing with is nothing more than shadows on the wall.
Writing does this for me. With the lights on, I can see the shapes that create the shadows and start to feel safe again.
The shapes creating the shadows
These are the shapes I see when the lights go on:
- Uncertainty – I don’t even know where to begin when it comes to the things I’m uncertain about right now. The list is LONG!
- Expectations – The more I write about mental health habits and happiness, the more I expect from myself.
- Judgement – The twin sister of expectation – the more I expect from myself, the more I judge myself for the slightest misstep.
- Rebellion – The self-righteous, angry protector of my self-image. This one fights HARD when she’s under threat. She’s the one who really gets the battle raging.
In the dark, the shadows spar and jostle, geeing each other up, letting the tension simmer. Being in the same room as them is scary and isolating because all their vehemence is ultimately directed at me. Until an outlet presents itself…
It might be an app that won’t work, a child who refuses to set the table, a husband who dares point out I calm down and BANG! The perfect opportunity to stomp sulk or yell. Freedom at last! The shadows release all their power into me and together we aim at something or someone else and just for a moment, things feel better.
But just for a moment…
“That was uncalled for. What the hell was that?”, and the battle turns inwards once more.
Only with the lights on can I see the shapes for what they are. My trouble is I haven’t yet worked out how to keep the lights on.
I don’t even know if that’s an option.