Getting all bent out of shape… I was reflecting on this expression this morning after reading a wonderful blog about the impact of growing up with narcissistic parents I was reflecting on the idea of not being accepted as I am and therefore having had a difficult time accepting and loving myself.
At times there is a running commentary in my head which is comprised of a number of voices, what psychologists might call “introjects” voices of those around us in our life which did not support, accept and nurture us, but rather berated us with our inadequacies, highlighted our defects and made us feel that who we are is somehow wrong.
I have been aware of these voices for some time. In fact over 10 years ago when I chose to go into isolation as a result of a lifetime of traumatic experiences and the breakdown of my marriage I did a piece of inner dialogue writing which I called “Destruction 11/11”. It was around this time I would look at the clock at certain time to find that often the digital display showed 11:11…
A weird piece of synchronicity : later I read a piece of writing that claimed that when we on a path of inner emotional growth and spiritual development (Not a lofty spiritual aim but the quest to uncover, live and express our true spirit) we will see these numbers.
Back to my earlier train of thought. In this long piece of consciousness writing a strong voice came through that was full of hatred for me and wanted me dead. The voice told me how it had come into my life around the age of 6 to protect me but also to cut me off from peace, joy, love, connection and acceptance.
It is interesting to me that shortly after writing this piece I met a person who would personify the critical voice. In a dream I had when I met him there were a number of women around me trying to warn me that this person would betray and confuse me. Dreams are often warnings.
There was an element of mistrust anyway for me due to many difficult experiences with people who lacked understanding and empathy but also I think my experience in life with these kind of relationships was testing ground for me in which I could learn more about myself and about others what was healthy and what was not.
The relationship which I just mentioned and which brought me so much angst due to this lack of acceptance was actually a projection of my own inner sense of not being good enough. Rather than stand up to criticism and stay true to who I was in this relationship I tried to change, to twist and bend myself out of shape.
Despite major lessons around this I can still do this. Part of me wants to be the nice person, to be accepted, to do the right and loving thing (whatever that is… its all subject to interpretations, expectations and often projection, I have learned).
As an empath I feel the pain of others and want to ease it. Having had so much of my own pain makes me ultra sensitive, most especially to ostracism and exclusion. I have had major lessons to learn about my limits to do this for others. At times it is hard enough loving and caring for myself.
Lately I have been in a very supportive therapeutic relationship with a person who understands me deeply, sees into to me in a way I have found it even difficult to do for myself. Witnessing my ongoing struggle with narcissists she has been pointing out to me my tendency to let those who hurt me off the hook and to keep getting retraumatised as a result which is not really loving to myself.
Why do I do this? Because I don’t care enough for and love myself enough. I also have a running commentary going on in the mornings about how I am a failure in that I have not got a job or a relationship, and that from the outside it looks like I don’t even have a life. Part of me is traumatised by this and then another partner knows it is BS, these voices are not mine.
It was pointed out to me yesterday by my therapist I have in fact been through so much that the rest of my life should really be devoted to caring for and loving myself, the work I engaged with, have been engaged with for some years is inner work, from the outside it looks like nothing much is going on, but inwardly I am digging deep in this dark night of the soul.
The tendency to beat myself up inwardly, to see myself as less than and elevate others is well entrenched. That attitude is also an internalisation of a number of programmes from my family and catholic education.
Last week I came across a beautiful book at the library called Garden of Bliss : Cultivating the Inner Landscape for Self Discovery. In this book the author speaks of a secret garden which we all have inside, a place where we can find peace and enter into a relationship with our deep soul, she also speaks of the Inner Gardener, that part of ourselves which is a witness to all the voices, that is connected to intuition and dreams and has an inner wisdom that does not rely on collective judgements.
As someone who has always found a connection in nature and loves gardening the idea of an Inner Garden appeals to me greatly. My happiest times lately seem to be pottering about in my garden with my lovely dog Jasper close by and connecting deeply to my inner garden through writing, listening to music, working with dreams, reading, cleaning, sorting, pottering quietly and resting peacefully within my own space. When engaged in this way I feel less alone that I do when out engaged in the busy world.
And yet I am increasingly feeling that I DO belong in this world. When I am deeply connected to myself, even when I take time to listen to the inner voices, critical as they may be, I am in touch with myself and my humanity. Through this sense of introversion and connection I feel extraversion is possible as I connect to the world. When I tend the inner garden, messy as it may be with all the challenging voices I am at home within myself and in relationship with myself and through that relationship I am connected to humanity. For now my work seems to be in tending this garden and in seeing the deep value that comes from having a relationship with myself and in not bending myself out of shape by giving power to voices that do not speak the truth.
One thought on “Tending the Inner Garden”
Reblogged this on Emerging From The Dark Night and commented:
A post from years back which is still very relevant today.