Childhood "stuff," fear and self-hatred, and procrastination/perfectionism
A recovering friend once took me through a little exercise. I was in the same self-lacerating mode — mercilessly berating myself for alternating sessions of procrastination and fruitless, obsessively perfectionistic work — that I've been in this week and couldn't get out of that mindset. Called him, overcoming tremendous resistance to doing anything kind for myself.
And so he asked me to concentrate my mind and heart on someone -- a pet, a child, etc, -- who I wouldn't want to suffer. My kids came to mind. He then asked me to picture my kids hurting, suffering ... "can you see them? Yes? Now ... what do you feel?" I said that I hurt because they hurt; I feel only love and compassion for them, I want to comfort them and help them. And he said: "that love and compassion? ... that's you, Ian. That's the real you. That other voice telling you you're shit — that's your disease, glorying in and stoking the flames of your pain with lies. That's Mara, the Evil One — that's ego, thought, mind, clinging desire, masquerading as truth."
And just like that, he'd flipped an internal dynamic that has dominated me for most of my life.
I've always identified with the suffering child; I could always see myself in that position — always felt overmatched and beleaguered, alone, abandoned, forsaken. That is how I felt as a kid — today I can and do feel compassion for the "adults" who raised me, but the truth was that as a child my caregivers weren't able to do much real parenting, nor were they able to model successful, fulfilling adult lives.
It follows, then, that I've never identified with the "good" parent, who provides the safety, security, guidance and modeling that a child needs. Nor have I ever seen myself as a competent, confident grown-up living a successful, fulfilling adult life. I've always seen myself as a beleaguered kid trying to act the part of the grown-up, and not be caught as a fake.
So my friend's neat trick showed me that I do actually have the "good" parent within me — the makings of it, the love and compassion and devotion and williingness to do all I can provide my loved ones (including me, the little guy part of me) what they need; the strong desire to be of service to the loved child.
Maybe if I practice noticing and awakening this part of myself, I will be better able to trust myself and higher power, better able to let go and let god, and better able to grow, take risks, move toward owning my life in an honest-to-god adult way.
Thanks to vic for helping me remember all this; I need it today.