Following from my last post I wanted to fill you in on a process that I’ve been going through.
Last year, owing to a series of stressful events around Christmas time (which can be stressful enough), I ended up in really deep, low, depressive spiral. I won’t go into the details beyond saying it was quite despondent where I felt like a burden to my loved ones and seriously considered leaving to alleviate them of the dead weight that I believed I was.
At the advice of my counsellor I purchased a copy of Boundaries For Your Soul which describes the Internal Family Systems model for working through personal issues. I’d highly recommend getting a copy or looking into the IFS model if you’re interested. You can see a brief infographic of the process here courtesy of one of the book’s authors.
As I began this journey I’d already recognised a part of me that was hyper-critical of others. I began to look at this and discovered it was doing so in order to protect me from the same kind of criticism (from others and myself). As I explored this I realised that it was doing so to protect a deeper part of me that was hurting.
Some of the feelings I was able to articulate around this deeper part were:
- Enjoying the sadness
- Self-destructive behaviours
- A Legitimising of my grief.
I got kind of stuck at this point but thought there was actually more to it. I left it for the time being.
The next day I was listening to a podcast by “The Liturgists” (which if you haven’t heard of I’d recommend checking out, I don’t agree with all of it but most of it is quite good). The episode I was listening to is titled Shame. And then the penny dropped for me. An even deeper part of me was sitting in shame and had been for quite a very long time. Since I was maybe 5 or 6 years old (I’m 33 this year).
I had for the first time been able to see this part of me and had only compassion for this part which was stuck in shame. I saw in my mind an adult version of me sitting in my primary school, almost in the foetal position. It took some time but through compassion and kindness, sitting with this shamed part of me, we were able to stand and walk out of the school towards home. During this period I felt the love of God to wash over me and this shamed part. It took a long time for this shame to fall away, it had been in place for nearly 28 years. But it did. God’s love and acceptance broke the unseen chains on my heart and soul. I’ve been Christian since I was 17, and the for first time in 16 years I really experienced, in a known and powerful way, how freeing the love of God really is. There were many tears, but such powerful and freeing tears, as I allowed God to show me something I’d not felt before.
But this wasn’t the end of it. Part of the IFS model is to re-integrate this part with a new purpose in your life. And for me, as I asked God and this part what role it would like, I clearly understood this part is now to be Kindness; no longer Shame but its polar opposite, Kindness. And this has been perhaps the most amazing part. I’ve been feeling so high since this has happened. I’ve been able to extend kindness to others where I would have been quick to judge, I’ve been able to extend kindness to myself where I would have internalised some kind of negativity. I feel like I’ve taken a big, big step forward towards being like the man I want to be. The man I want to be is known for compassion, empathy, empowering others, patience, safety and peace.
There is more to this journey. But goodness it’s off to an amazing start. And please if you take away anything from this post I want it to be that you are worth it. I love you and you are lovable. The love that God has for you will drive out fear and make you whole. If you don’t know this love I am praying you find it, it changed my life and I want you to know it too.