Defective vs. Wounded

Written in my journal on January 20.  I was typing it up today, and saw something I need to remember.

Looking back, I see that a week ago Monday (the 13) was a good day.  I woke happy, was able to “cosy in,” enjoy the falling snow and reading Rosamund Pilcher.  Things fell apart on Tuesday.  Reading over, I see that if I feel myself as defective, my heart hardens toward myself.  If I feel myself as wounded, my heart softens.  Without my verbal intellect I feel really defective, it’s the only thing I could count on for a lot of my life.

What I see from this is how important my rational verbal intellect is to my sense of confidence.  I’ve spent most of my life learning that there are other ways of knowing, and practicing them.  But when the chips are down, I turn to my rational intellect.  “Not knowing” what’s happening, what to do, what I did wrong…  has always been a trigger for me.  I realize that recently, I’ve been able to be OK with not knowing what I wanted to do next.  But when my brain jams, seems blocked and stuck, I panic.  I know that my intellect was supported in school.  The assignments were clear, and the grades clearly reflected my performance.  At home, it was never clear what my parents wanted, and what was OK (i.e. ignored) one day could be criticized the next.  I never got praise or helpful feedback.

Mother telling me she’d “send me back to Sears & Roebucks” left me with a lifetime fear of being kicked out on the street if I did something wrong, out where I would not be able to take care of myself.  I didn’t realize that this fear was still with me, until I got accepted here at Kendal despite the statistics that said I would run out of money before I died.  There’s a fund to cover people like me.  It’s true that the statistic is low.  Nevertheless, I was surprised to see how safe I felt.  It let me know that even as I got older, and told myself it must have been a joke, I still felt the fear of being abandoned.  Well, that was the trauma, being left alone when I couldn’t possibly feed myself, much less take care of myself in any other way.

The other thing I notice in this passage is that if I see myself as “defective” I judge myself as a useless, worthless person.  I only began to see that was wrong when I was 42 years old and the information about children of alcoholics came out.  Then I saw that I had learned dysfunctional behavior.  But it takes much longer to change a belief, even when you see it’s wrong.  I realize that it’s still very easy for me to think I’m defective, in fact it’s automatic.  There was a time, when I’d catch myself giving myself a hard time and I’d “take a big step back,” see how much this person had been hurt, and often, not always, start to feel compassion instead of judgement.  Typing this piece that I wrote a month ago, I see that the judgement that I’m “defective” is still my first reaction, and I still have to work to feel compassion.

Seeing myself as “wounded” on the other hand, calls for very different behavior.  Creating safety, protection, fulfilling needs for outside caring and nourishment, and patience to allow the natural healing process to take place.  All things that I’m still not very good at.

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