Learning French, I had only two weaknesses- grammar and vocabulary. Now, I have only two things I feel sadness about- my relationship history, and my career. There was a third, and I seem to have talked myself out of it. I hope this is a positive post, finding a way to let go a burden. That needs facing and accepting the sadness.
The current theory is that if I deny sadness I do not deal with it, and it builds up in me. My parents did not let me acknowledge my own sadness, perhaps unable to acknowledge theirs, and so I made defences against it. Stop whining. It’s not been that bad. You have nothing to complain about, I told myself. I trudged grimly on.
It seems that the sadness accumulates because my defences say to me, there is no real problem, don’t worry about it. The sadness accumulates and I become less able to bear it. I trudge on until I stop, but am effectively still doing the same stuff that didn’t work before, even though that now means being frightened to go out.
The inner bullying made it hard for me to conceive of my life being any better than it is. It is not that I accept reality freely, but that I am forced to, and resent it, and rebel: and so am even less empowered to improve it.
I trudged grimly on, but now I have more or less come to a stop. I am like a fly on its back on the windowsill, buzzing but unable to turn itself over. (Pesticides kill most insects now, and the birds seem fewer, without insects to eat.)
I had conventional understandings of how to improve my life, but they did not really appeal to me. They did not “make me come alive”. That means that I am more likely to give up: “I tried that, and it didn’t work”. I don’t know what would make me come alive.
On Tuesday 6th I was thinking of my relationship history in the shower. There was that, and that, and that… and then I was wordlessly wailing.
I did not acknowledge until 2013 that Mum controlled and dominated Dad, and Dad liked that. Just before he died he acknowledged it in our only honest conversation about it. I was 47. Before then I had not seen what would fulfil me in a relationship, to take a supportive, “feminine” role. Instead I wanted a relationship like a gay man’s “beard”, so I could pretend to myself to be a normal man.
I want a relationship. I want to see and be seen, love and be loved. I fear not being attractive to anyone and not being able to connect sexually. I feel sad that I have missed so much, been hurt repeatedly, been confused and in denial.
I have been hurt by a lack of language for describing this kind of relationship, and a lack of positive role-models. I have no way of draining the shame I feel at being who I am.
I feel trapped in an inner conflict. My sadness is mostly unconscious, but the burden is my mostly unconscious struggle to deny it, minimise it and claim not to be bothered- to keep trudging. I want to use “It really was that bad” and “It really has been that bad” as keys to freedom from the burden. X was not something I should just shrug off but X was ghastly.
The thought that “All this sadness is unbearable” is a problem. It only means I shove it out of consciousness. It does not mean that I cease to have to bear it. I have the additional burden of the work to suppress it.
On Tuesday I wrote, I feel not joy exactly- but something of the joy I feel when in a state of aware presence. Or I am closer to that aware presence. I also feel tired after the struggles of this morning, the inner conflict surfacing. I felt I was re-aligning in my attitude to it, accepting the sadness of my emotional being -or, perhaps, my Inner Light- which might help me bear, or even process, digest it.
I came to the thought, My gifts are not wasted. I am beautiful and valuable, and if my gifts are used for nothing more than keeping me alive, they are well used. (This is a New Thought!) But I would like them used for more of the Good of the community. I think I expressed this better two days later:
If all I can accomplish is my own survival,
then my gifts are well used,
because I am valuable.
And I accomplish more than my own survival.
Valuing myself seems essential to building myself up and recovering.
“In Our Time” led me to consider hope. It could be a fantasy, “Something will turn up”, leading me not to act. Or it could be an antidote to the despair which would keep me from acting. Christians have hope in a loving God. To be open to opportunity, you need hope.
The twelve steps might help. “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.” I don’t have a problem with alcohol, but perhaps- all the sense of control I have ever had has been illusory.
Admitting I am powerless, or my ego/self is powerless to enforce its illusions on the world, may help. I had not before yesterday read the twelve promises of Alcoholics Anonymous- the twelfth is, “We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves”. The God I believe in is the Inner Light of the evolved human being, freed from the illusions of the Self. I believe in the Tao, flowing like water:
Help thou my unbelief!