Last night I set an intention to read chapter 1 of "The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion" by Christopher K. Germer. My therapist loaned me her copy months ago and in my struggle to be able to retain or comprehend anything I was reading, I had abandon the book like so many others. I did try to work through it once before but found the first chapter baffling as it seemed full of contradictions...but promised it would all make sense as the book went on. So I will be patient.
I will read slowly and take notes (I am at the point where I know things when I talk about them or hear them but the concepts absolutely refuse to remain in my short term memory for review, reflection and eventual evaluation.)
There were a few nuggets that kept me interested--- even prompted me to borrow my son's pencil while he did homework beside me and jot it down on a bit of paper.
"The only answer to our problems is to first have our problems, fully and completely, whatever they may be". (11)
"Pain creates a conflict between the way things are and how we'd like them to be and that makes our lives feel unsatisfactory."(12)
"We can measure our happiness by the gap between what we want and how things are."(12)
"Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional. It seems that the more intense our emotional pain is, the more we suffer by obsessing, blaming ourselves and feeling defective.(16)
"Self compassion is a form of acceptance. Where acceptance usually refers to what is happening to us---accepting a feeling or a thought---self compassion is accepting of the person to whom it is happening" (33)
"Self compassion is simply giving the same kindness to ourselves as we would give to others." (33-34)
I had the opportunity to discuss my break through of being able to read a chapter with my therapist yesterday. While I continue to dwell on my lack of ability to read and absorb, she chose to focus on my ability to understand my limits but continue to test them in the attempt to better understand myself.
When I explained to her how Wednesday felt like I was in crisis mode all day --- limbic system on alarm --fight or flight in red alert---she asked me to sit with that feeling. Just allow it to happen--and to sit and think about it.
I am feeling anxious and my skin is crawling every time I think about reading any of the books I have. I am feel very scared. I have always worked--I am not working--so I have no value. Woah. There must be a lot there under the surface I have not been facing for years as I build my career, raised kids, battled financial ruin, got divorced while pregnant with my first child, build a new relationship, suffered the sudden loss of my dad, moved several times--locally and across the country, changed careers, went back to school..... I have had a lot to deal with and I have done my best. Trying to intellectualize and control things has worked for many years. But this buzzing under my skin is telling me there is more there that needs to be looked at if I want to live a more authentic life.
But it is scary--like big time scary--like a giant sink hole and I feel scared to get lost in it. I feel like I might lose my mind or everything will fall apart because I can't see a bottom and don't have a road map for navigating emotions. I only know where the door is to close them away.
Message to me: It's ok. You need time. You need to take baby steps here--not giant leaps. It is not a race and you are a brave person for starting this journey (thanks Michelle). Be patient with yourself. One thing at a time. You have so many wonderful things in your life ---enjoy them--start there. You deserve this time. You are worth it.