I actually cannot write.
I have been flipping through things that are not really important, mind wandering, the blog post screen hidden behind, just for something to do while I don’t write.
So here goes.
I usually write in my journal every morning. Some days I start off with that intention and it doesn’t happen until well after lunchtime. Sometimes I try, fail, have another cup of coffee, and sort of pretend the day is starting over.
I confessed to myself this morning that I hate it. I have been doing this for years: trying to write first thing in the morning. And I hate it. I cannot sit and observe my thoughts and my feelings without experiencing in some way, for some reason, my own terribleness. So it’s like starting off the day by sharing your innermost secrets with a particularly judgmental nun.
The other thing is that people always talk about your inner critic. They assume this feeling of one’s terribleness must be articulated and enacted to exist. Oh, absolutely not. I don’t have that. I don’t think, “This is a stupid thought. This is a terrible emotion.” My inner critic is absolutely silent. I don’t even feel the judgment. I just feel shame.
The shame has a life of its own. “Beating yourself up” is not required. The emotions do not require words in order to exist. It is not even necessary to know what might be terrible about me. The feeling comes all on its own.
I have been thinking about this more, because I was chatting with C a few days ago, and I just asked her, “When you meet me, do you feel like you did something bad?” And she said yes.
I mentioned that before, but it’s still on my mind.
We see ourselves the way we imagine others see us. The views of familiar people become predictable to us. If your attachment figure sees you and predictably complains about something you did or look or are, that becomes a part of experience of seeing anyone.
We try to imagine the minds of other people, and familiar minds perhaps are the most effortless to imagine. She sees me and tries to imagine my mind, and what she imagines is discontent, displeasure, dissatisfaction.
What she imagines is the lack of a reflection of her pleasure at meeting me.
And I do that too, even when seeing myself.
I have been trying to think why our respective parents would see us and reject us routinely enough that the reasons we might be rejected come effortlessly to us. I have been thinking it might have something to do with vulnerability. Happiness represents vulnerablity. It is, at its core, an unguarded experience. Knowing what gives someone happiness also provides the most readily available weapon.
Maybe that means you feel the little prick of reflected happiness at seeing your child, and you feel vulnerable and if you have had a traumatic past of any kind feeling vulnerable reminds you of being harmed.
When we are harmed, we feel vulnerable. If we weren’t vulnerable, it would not be possible to harm us. That perception of vulnerability is part of the memory of being harmed that we may not have worked through or processed. So maybe you don’t want that vulnerable feeling activated. Maybe it opens up the floodgates to a flashback you don’t want to have.
And also perhaps your first reaction to your child is to reach for power, so that you don’t feel vulnerable, and pointing out someone’s faults always does that. It provides you with a momentary sense of superiority.
What I hadn’t thought about before exactly was how painful this would be to me, or that this would actually hurt. You learn to expect nothing better. You learn to wall off your pain of not being liked by your own parent. You learn to be defended and dismissive and to believe you need no one’s approval. But when you were seven, it hurt.
As an adult, I think it’s helpful to have compassion for the child I was and to know how things felt to me, and also to recognize those elements of my own memories now. It hurt to be rejected, not just occasionally, but consistently. It hurt to have someone’s reaction to me be disdain and contempt.
I wasn’t Corningware–unfeeling and unbreakable. I hurt.