Today I lost a poem –
it might have gone down the drain in the shower
or alongside the dirty washing up water
Come to think of it, maybe it got thrown out
of my pocket along with old receipts…
There were some lines about longing
and England and the trees
and wondering where life is going
and whether calling myself a writer is suitable
or simply untrue
Because I don’t do it as often as I used to,
because the things I think about nowadays are hidden,
Because writing happened the most when I was unwell
and now that I’m better, is there anything left to say?
The poem might have escaped when I was busy at work
or maybe it just got tired of waiting.
life moves in cycles
of positivity– wonder,
a certain hope
and unassuming happiness
I write answers
to testing questions
wonder if it’s all for nothing
study my keyboard
listen to lectures
consider all the possibilities
arrive at meaningless conclusions
quietly dance with the darkness I used to know
only to come back because there’s nothing there.
How many others have felt like this?
I question the value
of my existence
without a job title
to my name.
Today a friend posted an article that sparked lots of thoughts about showing compassion and kindness to ourselves. What we say to ourselves in our minds matters a lot when going through emotional pain and even dealing with the stresses of every day life.
As a teenager and well into my early twenties I had a habit of saying awfully mean things to myself whenever I made a mistake or failed to meet my impossible standards in some way – it could be failing an exam, being late, saying the wrong thing, feeling sad about something that had happened, failing to get over things quickly enough, being too sensitive, being too shy or too loud…the list goes on! This behaviour is rooted in things that happened growing up and since nobody could look inside my head, nobody ever challenged it.
I knew that the way I thought didn’t make me feel any better, quite the contrary. But I always felt compelled to carry my thought process to the end. It was like sitting in a room with someone shouting horrible things at you for half an hour and feeling too terrified to speak up or leave.
Some might view this behaviour as a kind of self-harm even though there are no scars to show. I wonder how many people have experienced something similar. I have worked hard to make improvements in that area. I attended therapy sessions with a counsellor for a while and little by little discovered that there was something utterly unhealthy about my thoughts towards myself. The counsellor was the first person to ever really challenge the way I talked to myself; this was mainly because I’d never told anybody that I did this. She would often ask me whether I’d talk to a friend the way I did to myself. And week after week she’d remind me to think of ways of being kind towards myself – to treat myself as a friend rather than an enemy.
Even though this doesn’t happen as often as it used to, I still struggle. It’s even hard writing about it. But I think it is important to have this conversation. I think we are often told to be harder on ourselves, to get over things quickly, to be better (faster, stronger!). We are told to show compassion to others, to forgive others, to love others, to be patient with others… Very few people will tell you to be kind to yourself, be patient with yourself, forgive yourself… So I thought today it could be my turn to tell you: treat yourself like you would a friend.
My friend Cherry, who posted the article on Facebook, reminded me of this:
“‘Love your neighbour as yourself” (by Jesus Christ, Gospel of Mark, the bible)