Resistance is huge for me. I have so many intentions to heal. Sign up to the latest programme that gives me hope, the latest therapist and engage positively up to a point and then something happens and I’m wading deep in old patterns of self hate and self sabotage. It manifests in watching too much crap reality TV so that I don’t have time to think, reflect and just be, so that my leisure time after the kids are in bed in focused around the TV – there’s no space for anything else. And socialising – so much resistance to that! And I have good reasons to back up my resistance – social anxiety is so uncomfortable, my alone time so precious, so why would I trade the relaxing and comfortable for the paranoid, heart racing unsettling. And yet I struggle with feeling lonely, with my life feeling barren of meaning, of sustaining life affirming connection. I get frustrated with myself but with some work I have moved from a position of habitually berating myself and giving myself a hard time for not being more open to new experiences because that’s an intense swirly downward spiral of self hate. And kicking my self up the arse never achieved much anyway – you can’t get much out of social connection when you’re in survival mode, it is just a matter of surviving it, and waiting for the relief of being back safe at home. But there is something about kicking myself up the arse I need otherwise I’d just be a formless blob on the floor.
Listening to Irene Lyon earlier about befriending resistance, which is not new, but I haven’t really looked much into the source. What am I resistant to?
- Intimate relationships
- Structured healing time
- Finding life easier
- Forgiving myself
- Going to bed
- Dropping this private identity of someone who doesn’t cope well with life
- Flow and fun
Its hard to believe in the idea that resistance is there for a good reason, that it has developed in order to protect myself from something. It is easier to believe it is more a fundamental flaw in my character epitomised by laziness, fear and deep feelings of futility – the fear of failure, the acceptance that failure will be part of the outcome so why bother trying in the first place. So I stay stuck. How to befriend resistance, to walk alongside it? When I think about the feelings of futility, my ambivalence about my life despite having two great kids (how fucking ungrateful am I? roars that hateful voice in my head, and I agree) it does feel like a very young part of me. The part that kept myself as small as possible in all ways in an attempt to avoid the wrath of my dad. The part that learned I was too much, too needy and that my needs could never be met and there was only me to rely on despite the knowledge that I was fundamentally bad wrong and unlikeable. And when I think that, it’s no wonder I am constantly trying to flee from myself via TV, drugs, etc. My granddad was the only one to show me any softness and offer the comfort of his knee, but with that came his hands down my pants, so no wonder it’s hard to let my guard down, no wonder I have resistance to intimacy, to finding any safety there. So the resistance shouts NOOO!!! Don’t let go! Keep yourself locked in tight. Another part of me says, yes but all that stuff was so long ago – you haven’t had any contact with any of them for over 20 years, why are you still so stuck? And I guess that’s the thing, with a deep resistance to trusting life and the people within it, I keep myself very small and that in turn limits my ability to rewire those experiences, so it’s like a self perpetuating force shield – resistance means I keep myself safe, but also means I limit my capacity to grow and form new core beliefs. Oh to feel some sense of victory in survival instead of feeling so done in by it. I want to be better at surviving, I want to feel more flow, have easier access to happiness – especially when it’s right there for the sharing with my kids – instead of turning away, keeping myself perpetually mundanely occupied with petty “useful” tasks so I can justify being, trying to fulfil a role and keep going.
I understand my resistance to forgiving myself, I’ve done a lot of thinking about that and get glimpses of the grief under all the self hate, the shame and the blame. I have moved slightly, and I do actively remind myself that self compassion makes life easier and I have notes stuck up all over the place to remind me. So I guess understanding what drives that resistance has been helpful in trying to make space for something else. It’s not about tackling it full on, but about making space round the edges for something softer. Slowly slowly, and it’s hard not to get frustrated with the pace of it, of my ability to change. That aggressive voice of GO GO GO and the feeling that it will never be good enough, that I’m a waste of space piece of shit who will never amount to anything is always shouting at various volumes in the background. Another insight into why it’s so hard to believe in my capacity to change so that I can live life with more ease.
So what can I do about that? My foundations are built of all that stuff, no wonder it’s hard to be a solid adult. In terms of befriending the resistance, maybe it’s about using my imagination to sit with that young part and say I know that you are scared, and to stay frozen seems like the safest thing to do. If that was me with an actual child, I wouldn’t say “Get yer coat on, we’re going on a train to the city.” I would do things little by little to gradually build up a sense of internal safety, and of course there would be freak outs along the way – I’d try and go at the child’s pace, not push my own. It feels like what underlies all the things I feel massive resistance to is fear. For me, resistance is fear and I need to sit alongside that to understand what would help, to respect that being frozen makes me safer (not in reality, but in this concept of resistance), to listen to the pace that young part can tolerate instead of pushing through with the force of the sergeant major that’s so familiar.
Resistance is fear. It is the child in me knowing that the best thing I can do to survive is stay out of everyone’s way, be invisible, say small and frozen – it is definitely not standing up and saying I want more, I deserve better than this, which is what I’m trying to do now. That would’ve been very dangerous. Hence the resistance.
…..And so more pieces come together…..