I’ve just had a horrible weekend in the very worst of company – my own internal critic and martyr.
And it was an unexpected visit – the previous week had been quite good; I was feeling on top of things and looking forward to a weekend of getting things done AND relaxing.
Friday night was a little late as I went to the pub after yoga, but it was good to connect with friends and I was pleased because a voice in my head stopped me from having that drink that would have made Saturday a right off.
So Saturday started ok, but the morning seemed to just slip by before I knew it. For the rest of the day I was just swept along by the strong currents of family commitments – cooking, transporting kids to and from various events, shopping for odds and sods the kids needed, sorting tea and settling down for watching films with my older two. All pleasant, but unproductive in terms of the things I’d hoped to do for me (some writing, meditation, forward planning).
Then comes Sunday morning and I discover the house guests in my head.
My critic yelling about all the things I’d planned and failed to do. My martyr whinging about how unappreciated I am; how I have to do everything myself; and how nothing I do is ever seems good enough for some people.
The kids seemed to be all presenting me with problems (of their own making) like they were somehow my fault and therefore up to me to magically solve. The straw that broke the camel’s back was a falling out with my eldest where I felt criticised and mocked by her – I’m hurt, over-react and the day just goes from bad to worse. Manage to argue with another daughter, upset the third, and find myself having to do a load of tasks I thought someone else had taken care of.
By now I’m feeling panicky that everything I haven’t managed to do now gets pushed into (an already very crammed) next week.
That evening, after the kids are in bed, glad to be out of my way, I’m not proud of how I’ve been; a voice in my head is yelling that Kelis song: ‘I HATE YOU SO MUCH RIGHT NOW’! Smaller voices are trying to say “this isn’t real, you know it isn’t” or giving myself good advice I don’t want to hear, but the dramatic critical voices is just too loud -“See Rachel, everything you’ve learned about yourself, happiness and resilience has just gone out of the window, you fraud!”
I go to bed – hurting, angry, sad, confused.
I’m a couple of days further on now; I’ve more distance, perspective and reflection, but I’m still feeling fragile and a little depressed.
However, now I’m more able to just notice and accept my pain, discomfort and judgement, not fight them. They will pass.
I understand that the development work I’ve been doing has been bringing me face to face with some of my deeper ‘stuff’. I’ve touched a nerve inside myself; in exploring forgiveness, I realised I’m not the person I like to think I am.
I may appear easy-going and tolerant, but really I’m not. Deep down, I hold grudges that can make me wary and withdrawn as a self-protection mechanism, except of course, it doesn’t protect, it hurts me more in the long term.
This realisation of my self-deception has set off a chain reaction of surfacing or reinforcing other self-limiting beliefs – like how I’m gullible, naive, easily fooled and exposed (“See Rachel, you even fool yourself,” my sneering critic cries). Or that if I reach out for help, not only am I weak and undeserving, but that people will hurt me.
So I retreat to the ‘safety’ of only relying on myself – and then let myself down too (“See Rachel, you can’t even ask yourself for help,” exclaims the disdainful judge in my head).
Nothing in ‘real’ life caused this thought storm in my head.
I made it all up out of my deep fears and projected my inner scary movie onto the outside world. I’ve not resolved all that’s been brought up – it’s going to take time, but I am clearer on what I’m dealing with.
The kids, bless them, have forgiven me.
The big question now is how do I forgive myself? Only now am I seeing just how deep my self-grudge is held – no wonder my inner critic got so loud!