Tuesday, 1 July 2014
Poem by Terry Simpson
My ancestor was a wooden horse,
innocent on Troy’s hot plain,
deceptive and ambivalent.
I am a dream of science,
restless on a stormy, medieval night,
my mother a witch who must be tamed,
screaming down the hallway
at furious priests.
I am related to the drinks trolley
Edinburgh to London,
Hot tea and coffee,
crisps and Danish,
chocolate and Heineken,
need a receipt mate?
My arrival on the ward is the climax of the day.
They line up like penitents to Mass,
Nurses hand down the Holy Tablets,
(sometimes too the Syrup),
and the patients are redeemed.
They go back to doze before Deal or No Deal,
or to their beds to dream of Salvation,
(known as Discharge
in contemporary parlance).
My ancestor was a wooden horse.
Now I sit on the beige linoleum,
inside me psych-active warriors
Waiting their chance to subdue
The tiresome barbarians.
Thursday, 26 June 2014
By Recovery Leeds
I don't blog enough. I don't read enough or tweet enough. I don't train enough or reflect enough. In fact, I seldom feel I do enough of anything. Lily urges us to love ourselves, but how? Where do we start?
"I the unkind, the ungrateful" George Herbert
Life has conditioned me to lower my eyes, beyond humility, a place more akin to shame. It is many moons since I tried to write anything down. Lily frequently encourages me to let pen and paper meet where thought and form take shape. Whilst self, too often defeating and jeering, fills my head and drowns those still quiet places where inspiration whispers softly and kindly. I long to dwell in that place, I have sought it in varying ways: the way of Zen; the way of Aikido; the way of the Gardener; the way of Recovery and Growth. All very grand with their carefully assigned capital letter, but what of self and the Way to Self. This is the path we all walk, sometimes unwittingly, in a search for something that may have already found us, the return to something never truly lost, a memory shrouded in fog, calling out through our days and nights. As Gibran puts it:
"....a shapeless pigmy that walks asleep in the mist searching for its own awakening."
Perhaps awakening lies on a pathway which becomes clear with the light of love. The only entrance to this pathway is in seeing the working of love in others, in nature and in things. The gift of sight which allows us to see love in all that is around us begins when we begin to love ourselves.
I would like to share with you one of my favourite poems.
Please forgive this indulgence.
George Herbert. 1593-1632
Love bade me welcome; yet my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
If I lack'd anything.
'A guest,' I answer'd, 'worthy to be here:'
Love said, 'You shall be he.'
'I, the unkind, ungrateful? Ah, my dear,
I cannot look on Thee.'
Love took my hand and smiling did reply,
'Who made the eyes but I?'
'Truth, Lord; but I have marr'd them: let my shame
Go where it doth deserve.'
'And know you not,' says Love, 'Who bore the blame?'
'My dear, then I will serve.'
'You must sit down,' says Love, 'and taste my meat.'
So I did sit and eat.
Tuesday, 24 June 2014
What happens when someone unfairly bursts into your world with aggressive energy?
Bullying can feel like a physical attack, like a gong being banged loudly in my ear, like someone jumping on me, or jumping down my throat, like being crushed or trodden on. These are all things I have heard bullying or power misuse, described as. And what does it look like:
- · Shouting or using the voice with aggression;
- · Using body force or posturing;
- · Making direct or indirect threats.
It can also be subtle. Someone who constantly assumes a right, a preference or a control over my rights, time or belongings, is also oppressive. This can be insidious, and it’s tricky to think straight about, but the discomfort is my instinct telling me that the power balance is wrong.
When someone uses power against me unfairly, it invites me to take a “one down” or an “I’m not ok” position. It’s as if the person, and the words they bring, crash into the space around me that I would usually want to keep safe. It throws me off kilter. At certain times, if I’m already struggling to maintain balance, it can feel worse. It’s like riding a uni-cycle in heavy traffic when a car gets way too close and I fear falling. Or that I am trying to steer a boat in rough seas with a stick instead of a pair of oars and an aggressive intrusion can feel like the person has taken the stick. The last straw!
You know those days. Even on a good day unfair use of aggression triggers adrenaline. I feel threatened, shake, get butterflies, feel confused about the ground I’m standing on, and worst of all, lose my, often tenuous sense that I am acceptable to the world. If I also find I’m unacceptable to myself, I’m much more likely to swallow and accept the aggression as deserved. I yield to it and bare my neck and hand the authority of the space and my self, over to that person or power.
My memory recognises that pathway and it reinforces earlier experiences of bullying, abuse and oppression and I find myself in that old place again, feeling diminished with fewer or no rights and it eats away at dignity, self-esteem and confidence and I know I lower my eyes to others and shame myself in our my own eyes. Even as I’m describing this internal process, my stomach is knotting and sinking. The saddest thing is that I know I’m not alone and come across others that feel this cycle regularly, especially because we’re susceptible to being drawn to that kind of person. Why???? Because we want to have a different ending and finally experience respect and equality from the original bully? Because it’s familiar and we “know” this energy? Because you just can’t avoid some bullies, even when you try and they always manage to press those same buttons?
I hate bullying and the behaviours that go along with it because it is corrosive to the human psyche, to a person’s life path and the free choices and rights to be fully who we are. Bullying and oppression impacts a person’s internal and external world. Everyone has the right to stop bullying from coming inside themselves.
What do we do with the feelings that we are left with, if someone bullies us?
When somebody attempts to over-power me, for whatever reason, it can throw me for hours or days. I can feel very dejected. At times, I’ve responded to repetitive bullying with an over-reaction of rage which leaves me feeling absolutely horrible. Because I then know that I am bullying too! It’s an over-reaction because it’s triggered by old experiences of bullying and I know I’m reacting from that place too. I don’t want to do that and only want to give back today's negativity.
The point where the aggression hits me and knocks me off balance is the point I start with. You can rarely stop a bully from bullying, although that can come later with some, if you really empower yourself. What is important in the moment is to take charge of my response. “No-one has the right to de-stabilize me by using power unfairly.” I’ve tried all sorts over the years to regain my balance quickly when this occurs, so that it doesn’t resurrect those old ghosts. I rarely manage to catch it in the moment, by having the right thing to answer back with, or let it slide off me as “that’s not my stuff”!!! but when I do, it can help stop that internal chain of self-criticism and the desire to crawl under a stone!
After a meeting with a bully’s energy, I find the most useful thing is to find some privacy and stand back and visualise the person putting their words and energy on an imaginary table in front of me. It helps me separate from them immediately. I then have a choice as to whether I pick up this attack or not. If I feel some is deserved, I can take that bit, but leave the aggression, diminishing and controlling behaviours on the table. At the same time as visualising this, I stand up straight and strong in my spine and breath slowly in and out, repeating something self-supportive either in my head or out loud. “I deserve respect”, “I am as good as every other person”, “I have good instincts”, “I have a right to be treated in a respectful way”, “I will not be bullied”, “I do not accept oppression and I’m leaving it on the table”. You can define your mantra for whatever is right for the moment as a counter to whatever the bullying person is attempting to throw into you.
When someone repeatedly crashes your respect boundaries, it is an invitation to re-evaluate the relationship. Sometimes, this is really hard, especially if it’s a relative or a boss, a neighbour or a care-giver. Get support, good support. Friends that are really in your corner, or professionals that you’re in touch with. Don’t continue to tolerate being bullied. It is destructive to your internal and external world and can stop you being who you are meant to be. As much as you can, spend time with people who build you up by being respectful rather than being out to exploit you. You’re worth much, much more than where bullying energy puts you. Let the dejection help you to make a decision to commit to resilience and to not continue the bullying by bullying yourself and accepting the negative and misplaced attack.