the kindness of strangers


When I need to ask for money, I get so afraid that I’ll be punished, that I’ll be treated like detritus, and that it means I’m worthless, a piece of garbage.  The world closes in on me.  I feel alone.  The world becomes a terrifying place.

When that happens I have to remember that I’m repressing my emotions and that although my thinking brain tells me it’s the end for me, it isn’t true.  The reality is that healthy – and nurturing – solution is available for me, but I can’t see it.  My emotions are creating so much energy that they stop me seeing.  They’re telling me I need something very specific.  If I don’t express them and then figure out what that specific thing is, I’m disempowered, because I can’t take action.

That’s what terrifies me – being disempowered.  That’s when my childhood comes alive in me, when I’m nothing more than the product of my history.  I am my fear.  I can’t see that there’s anything more to me.

Well, I was driving away from the internet café with my emotions bubbling just below the surface, feeling wild with fear, hearing all the persecuting dialogue that has controlled me all my life.  You’re stupid, you’re worthless, you’re lazy, you expect everyone else to pay for you, you don’t want to take responsibility, you’re a victim, you don’t deserve you don’t deserve you don’t deserve.

It was worse than the fear of death.  I can’t explain it with words.  It defies description.  Ultimate helplessness in the face of massive threat.   Yet I was neither helpless nor massively threatened.  I just was giving authority to the persecuting dialogue, the stuff I internalized from all the messages I received and experiences I had as a child.  They were real once.  Now they’re not, but they live on in my mind and my body.   Until I remember there’s only one thing I have to do.

Let it out.  Let the rage out.  Stop thinking about it, just do it.

As I was driving home I exploded with rage.  I screamed at it at that persecuting dialogue, letting the energy come from the depths of me.  I won’t listen to you, I won’t believe you, fuck you, you are nothing.  I let out a roar.  My voice so powerful.  All the tension in my body eased.  And then I heard the new, nurturing, sane voice I’ve internalized from ten years of sane, grounded, caring, nurturing, protective therapy.  I don’t have to listen to the old persecuting crap.  It’s never said anything true about me and it isn’t true now.

Then I was able to see the truth.  It’s okay to accept the help.  And if somebody offers it and tries to treat me like detritus I can protect myself.  But I don’t want to presume they’ll persecute me.   Maybe they see in me somebody of value who’s vulnerable and they want to give.  Maybe they think I’m worth helping.  Having to acknowledge I need it is hard, though.

But as my own judgment subsided, the world started to right itself, and not look scary at all.  My inner child settled down and I came fully into the present.  I’m not a victim any more.  I have options.  Sometimes the only one that I can see is that I have to listen to my emotions and move them.  But that opens the door for the other, practical ones.  And at least I’m doing something.  I’m doing what I couldn’t do as a child.  Standing up for myself.  Expressing my frustration.  All in the privacy of my own world, so nobody gets hurt.

The rage is against the message in my head.  That message is what I believe to be true.  My belief stops me getting what I need.  Belief?  Whoo boy.  It’s very powerful.  It’s a non-material thing that controls our material world.

I’m allowed to take help from even a stranger.  Learning to believe that is the challenge.

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