What happens inside of us when we are self-critical? Where does that even begin? I’ve spent some time with this and for a couple of nights I would wake up around 2 or 3 and there would be this self-critical voice spinning around and around. The more it would spin, the more critical it would become.
What would happen for me was a contraction, a kind of collapse inside of myself. As I woke up a little more, to actually pay attention in a new way, I recognized that this voice had a flavor to it. It was, “How could you?” So, there was shame in there, and as I sat with that, I could hear underneath that “How could you?” that there was deep grief inside of myself.
This voice inside was listing all of the ways that I had failed as a mother. That’s really huge. My life’s dream when I was a little girl was to be a mother. So, it was rehashing all of those moments that I wanted to do something different.
The shadow belief that I touched into as well, underneath those emotions of shame and grief, was this real-felt experience that I’m all alone. So, I want to just step right through time to be with that part of myself. What empowered me to step in that way was bringing in the felt sense of gentle curiosity. There is a warmth with that.
In the night what I did was to actually turn and acknowledge that I was hearing this voice within. One of the things that happens for us as humans is, the default mode network, when we’ve experienced trauma, it keeps worrying over it. It’s wanting to heal it, and it’s doing the best it can to support us.
So, turning to that part of myself with warm curiosity and asking, “Do you want to help me?” I could feel my face soften with that guess, with that acknowledgement or question. Because it’s true, that part of me is wanting to help me. It just doesn’t know how to do it any differently.
With these criticisms of my parenting, especially when I was a very young teenage mother, I asked this part; “Was it so very hard for you? All of these experiences, were they so hard for you?” Then, feeling again the body’s answer, “Yes! It was too hard for me to hold up under all of that on my own.” I was still a child myself at that age.
The question that really supported me to experience a shift inside was asking, “Do you wish that Gloria had lived a different life?” Again, “Yes!” especially certain parts of my life. They were just too hard. This younger self, as I time-traveled to her, I could feel the immobility, I could feel the shame, the collapse. The hearts desire to make a difference and not knowing how, and not knowing where to turn and believing there was nowhere to turn.
It’s like, “No wonder! No wonder there was such a deep sense of loneliness, aloneness, that was nearing despair.” And, to just be with this part with gentleness and accompaniment. To be able to have some warm resonance, in order to allow the mourning to begin to happen.
Because grief is not able to be processed when we are all alone. We need there to be that warm accompaniment. So, when we are able to bring warmth in, and ask ourselves, by using our name, “Gloria, do you wish you had lived a different life when you were a young mother?”
“Yes, I do!”
To bring in some love and resonance to shine out some golden light of warmth and love to send out to her and her two young sons at that time. And, to bring them home to me, to bring them in to nurture and acknowledge. To be able to name all the things that were so unnameable, that my younger self didn’t even know how to name.
As I continue on this healing journey and I allow myself to receive support when I need support, I’m able to hear these voices with so much more loving kindness. I’m forever grateful that I get to touch this younger Gloria that had never been touched in this way before. With warmth and gentleness, kindness and compassion.