It’s All About Me When It Comes To My Emotions – Responding Not Reacting

It’s been a challenging week for me on many levels’. I felt hurt and frustrated by a friend’s behaviour and, have had a professional organisation failed to keep their commitment, and two professionals involved in my care are leaving their posts.

I find it very difficult to be authentic and express my emotions in response to somebody’s behaviour. However, I had to say something this week so that O could remain true to myself and protect my self esteem. My friend’s behaviour isn’t the issue, it’s my feelings that I need to focus on. It doesn’t matter how you behave, that’s your choice and your right, so if I feel upset or hurt in response to your behaviour that’s my responsibility. My telling you how I feel doesn’t mean that you have to change your behaviour. As your behaviour is your responsibility you can choose whether to act differently, or continue to behave as you are. This means that you can remain true to yourself.

Self-portrait in which I photographed myself as a reflection in a mirror.
(Please click on photo for a full size image) I am slowly becoming comfortable with displaying self portraits, but I still need to cover my face.

So this week I took responsibility for my emotions and spoke to my friend about how I was feeling with regards to our friendship. I did this in a manner that owned my feelings and didn’t blame her for my emotional reaction. In order to do this I needed to give myself a couple of days to allow my emotions to calm down and so that I could prepare what I wanted to say without it being an attack on her. It would have been so easy to react but that would have been damaging to both her and myself (There have been recent news stories about students trying to get their lecturers sacked because they have differences of opinion. This behaviour is completely inappropriate because it apportions blame rather than taking responsibility for your thoughts and feelings, it’s also very arrogant and self righteous).

With a professional organisation letting me down my approach is firmer, more descriptive and without emotional content. They have provided me with some software called Dragon Nuance, which is voice to text software, and am using this to write this blog today. They are currently training me how to use and make the most of this technique. I had an appointment with them which they failed to keep. I’m very pleased that in both instances I have been able to respond, to take responsibility for my thoughts and feelings without resorting to criticism or blaming them for how I feel.

(Please click on photo for a larger image) Macro photography is my mindfulness. It is something that I enjoy immensely and it also calms me down.

My eating disorder therapist has been off work for several months,. We had an appointment this week, during which she informed me that she is changing role in two weeks and I won’t have a therapist until the new person is in post. On top of this, the junior psychiatrist that I have been working with whilst my therapist has been off sick, is moving onto a new rotation in two weeks and I’ll have to get used to a new doctor. My care coordinator is also changing. I feel quite vulnerable with having these three changes at the same time.

Acceptance is the answer, and the only way of responding to these changes I don’t like and that I feel unsafe with. So my response is to allow my vulnerability to be as it is, and to discuss this with my friends as often as I need to.

By Thursday afternoon my thoughts were along the lines of “what else is going to go wrong today?”. So I wrote a gratitude list and made a note of all the things that had happened during the day which I felt grateful for, I spoke with a friend, and my mood and thoughts improved. Making some macro photography also helped to keep me focused straight after my psychiatric appointment.

(Please click on the photo for a full size image) Macro photography is my mindfulness. It is something that I enjoy enormously, and it also calms me down.
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Humility Exists In The Space Between Arrogance And Self Hatred

I’ve been still and relaxed today, which is good for my soul, and provides the intimacy that I need for honest self-reflection.

My arrogance and self-hatred are both defence mechanisms that I use to keep others away from me. It’s not deliberate, it’s an internal form of self-preservation that’s been a response to trauma, and a symptom of complex post traumatic stress.

When I’m in the space of arrogance then ‘Im ok, you’re not ok’ a position of blame or superiority. When I’m in the space of self-hatred then ”you’re ok, I’m not ok’ I have you on a pedestal and myself in the gutter, a place of inferiority.

Both positions are an external projection of my feelings of inferiority, and a need to find a space in the world in which it’s ok to be me. To have strengths and weaknesses and be at peace with both.

Certainly I feel more comfortable in my skin, more often. Much more often.

I can only be ok with you and you’re strengths and weaknesses when I am ok with mine, and that’s humility. Humility is knowing who you are. Genuine self-knowledge and acceptance. It’s a simple understanding that I have unique strengths and weaknesses, as do you. This is the place where I meet you as an equal, individually unique, but as equals ‘im OK – you’re OK’.

When I become aware that I’m experiencing arrogant thoughts I know  that I feel like I’m being judged, and the arrogance is like a belligerent ‘fuck you, I’m better than you anyway’ it’s feelings of  inferiority  manifesting as blame and self-righteousness.

When I’m aware that I’m being intensely self-critical and experiencing self-hatred, it’s because I feel shame. Ashamed of who I am, I can never be as good as you, I’m unworthy and you most definitely are superior to me. Neither of these are humble.

I am aware of these experiences today and can recognise them quickly, and allow myself to feel the underlying feelings that arrogance and self-hatred mask. The feelings pass, and I can meet you in a place of self and other acceptance.

Today I’ve experienced feelings of superiority and inferiority, and observing the shifts and allowing them to be, has meant that I’ve found equilibrium between strengths and weaknesses.

I go to bed knowing that I am OK and you are OK.

Narrative – Exercise 3.3 – Sequence

A Hermits Journey

A Hermits Journey

I do not live alone, I live with myself. This is a position of strength, although it may appear to be an isolated existence.

A Hermits Journey

My mental health difficulties can lead to very morbid thoughts, but somehow I manage to walk that path in between life and death. I find there is as much joy to be found in darkness as there is in light. That’s not the way it used to be, so I think a positive attitude comes with experience and age.

A Hermits Journey

People are important to me. Through my studies I have developed an online community, and I have some very close and wonderful friends that I have known for years. However I chose not to meet with people very often, I prefer to have a physical distance, and enjoy the freedom of not having to be with people.

A Hermits Journey

If I spend too much time around people I feel overwhelmed and oppressed. It’s not that people are oppressive, its hard to explain. I find that being with people is quite heavy and tiring. It’s hard for me to just let go and move with current of life when I am in the company of others.

A Hermits Journey

Its much easier to blend into the background and be invisible.

A Hermits Journey

Spirituality, in my mind, is not about a church or belief system. Nature and space provide me with a connection and nourishment, as of course do birds. For me, feeling connected, that I have a place and purpose is important, and photography has given me that in bucket loads. I am grateful for my camera, and grateful to be studying photography.

A Hermits Journey

Gratitude is something that is so important to me. It is possible to feel grateful for so many small things, and in this photo its the colour and texture of the wood, and how they are strengthened and exaggerated by the snowy background. One of the many things that I found to be grateful for on my walk. Gratitude is a spiritual practice. At the end of each day I write five things down in my daily gratitude journal. Positivity has to be cultured.

A Hermits Journey

One of the down sides to living the life of a hermit is that there is a wee bit too much time for thinking. I find it is easy to slip into either negative thinking or dwelling on the past.

A Hermits Journey

Too much self-reflection can leave me feeling trapped, brittle and easy to break.

A Hermits Journey

During those times I have to dig deep and find my inner strengths and push myself forward. Colour and beauty is to be found within those inner resources that I use to move onwards and upward.

A Hermits Journey

Once I have pushed myself back up to the top of the hill, and re-discovered the joy of being, I can take a rest at my post. I lean upon this post with my camera in one hand and binoculars in the other. There are so many different bird species to be found in this small patch of bracken, bramble and trees. Peace and beauty flutter around me.

A Hermits Journey

In the journey through life people come and go. Maybe in passing, for however long that maybe, we will sit on these benches together and connect. But whether I sit with you, or someone else, I will never be alone because I will always be with myself.

 

Reflections

I am so grateful that I have used the opportunity provided in exercise 3.3 to explore different themes in relation to photography as a sequence. The photos for A Hermits Journey were taken during a walk from Whitby Abbey, down into the town, along the river Esk into Ruswarp, and then back into Whitby, ending with a walk along the West Cliffs.

The walk took me five hours, and I took many photos along the way. Although I will publish others in my gallery, I narrowed my selection for this narrative down to twelve photos which I could use to express a little of who I am. These photos are sequential in relation to the walk that I took, and I have tried to use my words in a manner that flows throughout.

If viewed by anyone who hasn’t walked the route I enjoy, then the photos without text would be seen as a series rather than as a sequence. The writing brings the photos together as a sequence, and provide a way for me to communicate and express myself. This is directive in its manner and probably doesn’t leave the viewer asking questions, although some may be able to relate to different aspects. I don’t believe that this has any abstract or conceptual slant to it, and fits very neatly into a genre of narrative photography.

Critique and feedback are always welcome on my blog.

I Can’t Breathe – (Co-dependancy)

This is a short poem that I wrote about 20 years ago (I’m excluding the other person’s name) .

You take my bed

You take my mind

But one day xxxxxxx

You will find

The real me

Because its there

And then you’ll realise

I don’t care.

I cant breathe

 

 

Thank god for therapy, and learning how to practice emotional integrity!

Waiting to Die

Death becomes him

Death is me

This waking death of misery.

Please come death

Please swallow me

End this life and swallow me.

 

The usual reminder:- I am OK. In fact I’m very good right now. Writing is recovery.

If You Knew What Makes Me Cry

I’m a man you know, and all men feel

Emotional………sometimes!

We laugh it off and blame the beer

“No, really mate, I’m fine”

You would wet your pants with laughter

If you knew what makes me cry.

It’s not the twilight sunset

Nor that twinkle in your eye.

 

On the terraces, win, lose or draw

“Fuck off ref” I shout

It’s not that I’m a heartless …t,

But these feelings must come out.

You would wet your pants with laughter

If you knew what makes me cry.

It’s not the twilight  sunset

Nor that twinkle in your eye.

 

My missus is amazing,

Shes gorgeous through and through.

My throat went dry, my heart near stopped,

when she whispered ” Yes I do”

You would wet your pants with laughter

If you knew what makes me cry.

It’s not the twilight sunset

Nor that twinkle in your eye.

 

My princess buggers off,

To the girls each Sunday night.

I’m sure she goes on purpose,

So my tears stay out of sight.

You would wet your pants with laughter

If you knew what makes me cry.

It’s not the twilight sunset

Nor that twinkle in your eye.

 

How kind she is to let my tears,

Flow freely through my beard.

I’m really quite emotional

But I find crying weird.

You would wet your pants with laughter

If you knew what makes me cry.

It’s not the twilight sunset

Nor that twinkle in your eye.

 

 

 

Grief

Anxiety and butterflies danced in my belly first

And was followed shortly by intense longing, yearning, and…

Hope.

There you were, holding hands

Walking just a few paces in front.

I shouted your name and…

You never turned or showed any recognition, such as a missed step or a tension in your shoulders.

For a few seconds I knew you were still here, that you

Had not gone away to “a better place”

Such a FUCKING crass sentence. I hate it. I HATE THOSE WORDS.

There is no better place than being with you. Walking through a scorched and barren desert would be bliss if we walked it together.

What emotions or clear thoughts can I have, when there is the emptiness of your shape that I fill and will not let go of.

I will not let go of you. Never.

Who Am I? Who Are You? Society, Change, The Pain Of Ownership, The Journey From Me To We, Who Are We.

The beginning of my personal enquiry seems a little strange, but my thoughts were in response to a discussion on another blog.

Who Are We?

I agree. One positive change is beginning to happen with children being taught mindfulness in schools. It’s already creating communication, acceptance, tolerance, and the ability to look within. I like the idea of the shamanic talking stick. You can only speak when you have the stick. You hold the stick and state whatever you need to discuss and then pass the stick over. The person who is now holding the stick then has to say “this is what I heard you say…..and I think you mean this….” The stick gets passed back and you  respond to the other person. You agree with what tbe person heard and then explain what the second person didn’t hear or understand. This process is re6peated until you have been heard. The second person then holds the stick and they can then discuss whats bothering them, and repeat the process. Honest dialogue, honest speak, honest watching and honest listening. Honest listening is really hearing what has been said without mentally preparing to add your perspective, and without planning a response.  Honest watching is discussed by CE HALL in her essay Woman: The Mystery Decoded.

The bigger picture

I’m going to get political now – with the big P (government) the issue is that they can’t and don’t look at the big picture. They tackle single issues, crime, housing, tobacco, gambling, mental health, teen pregnancy etc. They do this because their aim is to get re-elected. They seek power not change.If they tackle the big picture and see that there is something wrong with the whole system, then they have to work from the ground up. Why does the UK have so much debt, a higher proportion of people in prison than other European countries. The biggest ratio of teenage pregnancies, food banks, an increase in betting shops; etc etc. To tackle the big picture is a long term process, and no government will dare to undertake this because the change is a slow and will take many years. This brings the risk of not being elected again. With governments of any kind – labour; conservative, Republican, Democrat. They are all the same. They all seek power and re-election rather than creating a cohesive and open society.
The small p is the politics of individuals and ownership. This is MY house, MY football team, MY religion, MY wife. My country. When we focus on me and ownership we create a polemic system where I am right and you are wrong. Suffering comes from ownership. It’s painful to defend a position that we find security in, so we then become defensive on the inside and create violence on the outside, and not necessarily physical violence.

Change can only come from individuals who enquire about who they are, and who others are. We let go of MY and understand WE. We look into our shame about who we are. We enter into our shadow and face it, and realise that shame is a myth, a social construct to create systemic control and obedience. When we see this we are free, we forgive ourselves and see that others act from shame, we understand their behaviour. Just because we understand their behaviour does not mean that we accept it. We set boundaries.  We can now see the bigger picture of WE. Shame is not personal, it is universal. We let go of the personal shame. No longer driven by our shadow, we are free to choose how we want to live. Free to set our boundaries, we now have choice because we are living from the bigger picture. This personal enquiry is happening with individuals around the world. If this change continues to develop, then change will happen from the grass roots upwards; and not from governments.

The realisation is I’m not who I think I am. The definitions and labels that I have received from myself and others, my defensive, restrictive belief system; my memories, my goals. These have all been possessive and restrictive. I thought I had choice, but when I started to explore these belief systems I realise how false and limiting they are. I am not my thoughts, feelings, beliefs, memories, ideologies, I am not my circumstances, I am not my personality (it’s just a restrictive perception).If am able to observe these things with an open mind, I realise that I cannot be what I observe. Everything that I think I am is impermanent. Even the cells in my body and the neurons in my brain change and die. There is a part of me, a “self” that has witnessed everything. It’s always been there. Here’s an analogy to explain this. I am the white board. You write on me and I remain as the white board. You rub out the writing and write something else, I remain as the white board . Another analogy. I am a tv screen. A documentary is played on the TV. I remain as the screen. You turn the TV off and the screen remains. You play a film. A tragic romance comes on. There is love and friendship and hope and dreams. The main character dies and there is grief, guilt and anger. All of these events and ideas happen on the screen. But they are not the screen. The screen is “self” who I am.

What remains needs meditation, contemplation, writing a journal, examining our beliefs and reactions. We question who or what am I beyond awareness. We realise that we are all “self” we are all the neutral observer. There is no separation from me and you. There is no MY.

The journey to discovery, to seeking the truth about who I am is a courageous path. To let go of false security and belief systems, to stand in presence, in this moment, with nothing to cling hold of, no false comfort blanket; We remain aware. The aware observer is following the warriors journey.

I now live with the knowledge that “we are”. Everything is ours. I am now free to share what is ours, rather than cling to what is mine. I have started “pay it forward friday” I go to the bakery and buy a pie. I pay with a  5 Pound note and ask the cashier to use the change to pay for whoever she serves next. I give 2 pound to a woman who sells the big issue, and 2 pound to a charity. It reaffirms that it’s our money, our connection; our pain and struggles, our hopes. “We are”. I am seeking the answer to who we really are beyond the veil of deception.

I am one of those people who have started to seek truth because of a crisis, because of the pain of breaking my boundaries, of doing “wrong”. The collapse of personal identity, the shame, the fear and grief, cracked my identity and personality wide open. Many people begin to seek answers to who they really are because of a total breakdown of the personality. There are more that seek because instinctively they feel that something is missing. Change is happening. We may not see the results in the near future, but as more people realise they are not who they think they are, more change begins.

The question remains – who am I?

Reference

Hall, CE; 2017; Women: The Mystery Decoded; Online at https://cehallweb.wordpress.com/2017/09/21/women-the-mystery-decoded/ (accessed on 30th September 2017)