Friday, 6 November 2009


To what does my therapist repeatedly liken me?
A mysterious, multi faceted prism bending and reflecting light? A valuable, finely tuned instrument?
Apparently I'm a filing cabinet...
One of those rather grim, storm grey, functional filing cabinets that squats inoffensively in a corner under a desk.

My bottom drawer (or is it the top?) is in perfect order. Little coloured, plastic tabs labelling each and every category and subsection. Each tab written in perfect, calligraphic, black font. Efficient, competent, quick minded and organised.
Put me in a situation and watch me compute actions and actions; reach into the tidy compartment and pull out the appropriate 'file'.
In stark contrast, my top drawer has all the marks of a desperate thief rifling through papers whilst footsteps approach the darkened office.
My therapist explained that it was as though all the papers in this drawer had been strewn on the floor. Moreover, the papers had been ripped into pieces and we may pick up a middle piece and find it has an end but no beginning... Or find an end but not be able to find the two upper pieces.

I wanted to explain that my last post came from my top drawer.
The 'secret' drawer that nobody really gets to see.

It's a chaotic drawer and I'm not sure that some of the fragments even exist anymore.
It's a drawer that has been locked for a long time and the rusted runners won't allow it to open easily, let alone fully.

I was in half a mind to 'disable comments' on this blog. It has been a battle to leave my honesty and my expression of the top drawer chaos. It is unfamiliar ground to allow the drawer to open even a fraction and when I began this blog, I didn't realise that blogging was such a 'relational' thing. I had no idea that people would be the least bit interested in a grey filing cabinet.

When I expressed the difficulty I had with allowing comments to my lovely blogfriend Gail, she wrote that she thought most of the comments I got here were very kind and caring... I don't know that she realised that this very truth is precisely why I find it so excruciating at times.

Kindness kills.


  1. Kindness doesn't kill. Maybe it is time to allow yourself to accept the kindness of others. Pushing it away is a choice.

    If I threw a finely tuned instrument out a third story window it would smash and shatter into pieces. If I threw a gray filing cabinet out the same window it might dent but it would survive the fall.

    Glad to hear you're still seeing your therapist.

  2. Hi jss,
    Thanks for your words and your listening.
    Kindness doesn't kill, but it feels like it does and it is painful enough to make me wince at times.
    Pushing it away is a choice? I had to think hard about this and I suppose I believe that to some extent, every response and every action is a choice.
    When it is a reflex action it FEELS less like a choice, but I guess i still is somewhere.
    Allowing myself to accept kindness is a great idea in theory and, a part of me wants kindness, wants the care. However, it is in battle with a stronger part that doesn't.
    I could explain why but perhaps that is another post.

    You ae right about throwing a filing cabinet out of a window.
    I have survived whatever it is I have needed to survive and dents can always be pushed out.
    Thanks jss.

  3. You don't have to explain that battle to me, I get it, I live it myself. Trust me, I know every bit as much as you about it. However within that battle each and every tiny little moment you are making a choice to either give in to the kindness and care or give in to the negative thoughts in your head that have come from your life experience. All I am saying is that at some point you have to start listening to yourself. This wanting that you speak of isn't there because it's not real. It is there because it IS real. You want it because you're supposed to want it. Just one time choose to take it. Not to SOME extent is our every action and response a choice but to its FULL extent is our every action and response a choice. This sounds harsh but its true.
    You know one of the problems of communicating by nothing more than words with someone you don't actually know is that those words can start to sound preachy. And there's nothing that disgusts me more than preachiness. But here's the thing. I know this place where you are. I have been there. Obviously it manifested itself in different ways and for some different reasons but I know much of what you are feeling. And I know the effort it takes to get through it. I know these things from my own experience.
    I need to stop here as I feel I am approaching the limits of a proper boundary. Please just know that I know. Kindness does not kill. Just one time resist the urge to say that it does and let yourself find out that it doesn't.

  4. Hi

    Thank you so much for taking the time to write to me over at my blog. It meant alot. And I understand. :-) And to continue with your wonderful metaphor about the filing cabinet and the difference in the drawers I would like to tell you a little story.

    I have shared that my sister lost her oldest son almost 7 years ago and that this past January she lost her husband of 40+ years. They were engaged well over 40 years ago and the ring has been on her finger for decades. SHortly after he died she looked down at her hand and the diamond was gone from the ring setting. Oh she was devastated - and telling God she thought him cruel to allow this - her hurt was unconsolable and justifiably so. Every day she searched her car, re-traced her steps and was always on high alert hoping to find it. About a month ago she was at work and opened the "filing cabinet" to get some forms and she saw something sparkling along the runner of the drawer - YES!! There it was, her diamond. Great story huh? And I immediately thought of it when you shared of yourself as one. I would be interested to know what this brought up for you. :-)
    Have a peaceful Saturday
    Love Gail

  5. Hey WS, don't know if this would help you but I couldn't voice anything to anyone - then I started to blog. Blogging helped me to have my voice. The comments from others pushed me forward, to keep moving, I know the pain of kindness - weird but when you're not used to getting the good, when you get it, it actually hurts. I like being able to tell you I'm in your corner...and to cheer you on. sarah

  6. jss - Yeah. I note your points.
    That it is to a FULL extent that we are responsible for actions isn't harsh, it's true... I just tend to write ever so slightly noncommitedly in case there is a scenario I haven't really considered.
    Hedge my bets... Y'know.
    Thank you for your understanding.
    I guess that having fought / still fighting the same battle you understand the resistence involved at a level that I am not sure I can fully comprehend. Again, the kindness thing feels like reflex.
    Anyway, yeah... In a way I am giving it a chance just by allowing myself to be here and by allowing communication. Allowing myself to be heard feels like hell sometimes and certainly, with the care that seems to abound in this corner of the blogging kingdom, it doesn't sit too comfortable alongside the desire to punish and to stay tough.
    At some point I have to start listening to myself? Well...yes. I know what you mean. I guess I do listen to myself but I listen to a punitive side rather than a self care side.
    Your words are wise jss but I struggle to take the on board.
    Not because I think they are wrong, but because I am a stubborn, angry thing who just feels less disgusted with cutting my skin than at the idea of cutting myself some slack.
    I realise that this may well be very much a victim mentality, and perhaps it is... I'm not really sure of a whole lot at the moment.
    What I do know is that I am probably far more furious and sickened by myself at the moment than anyone reading this could be with me.
    Yes, negative thoughts are definitely not the way ahead, but for years I have painted a smile on my face and hummed along with all the shiny happy people. I have thought 'what a wonderful world' and I have concentrated on making myself less and others more.
    I have to say that this, although a good enough means of survival, has hardly been ideal. It's true that choosing positive thoughts works... as does keeping myself occupied with work and other people.
    Perhaps it is depression's claws that come screeching down my core to make it all such an effort.
    I'm rambling so I'll stop.
    Thanks jss. You have made me think. x

    Gail - I don't know what to say.
    I'm glad you got my message and hope that you understood that I would so hate for you to be concerned.
    I'm not really sure about whether the blogging thing is such a good idea but I do know that I have met some truely amazing people in this sphere and you are definitely one of them.
    I'm so so sorry about your sister's terrible losses. It is pretty devestating and no wonder she was beside herself about the diamond.
    You'd like to know what the sparkling ring in the filing cabinet brought up for me?
    Well... dear Gail... I suppose the idea that there could be something that precious in my filin cabinet feels pretty unlikely. I really am feeling little more than a grey piece of functional furntiure right now.
    But... If there is something beautiful and sparkling there... If there ever could be... Then, I promise I'll let you know.

    Thank you.
    Thank you for understanding the pain of kindness and for knowing that it hurts.
    I hear your voice and I am so glad you use it for yourself and so beautifully for others.
    I like the idea that you are in my corner. Makes me think of the boxing ring...
    Thank you for your empathy.
    I hear it and I know it.

  7. I hear you. I am undergoing Trauma therapy in this very moment and recently we had to give each other praise and compliments. My reactions wasnt as bad anymore as 5 years ago where I would have felt it kills me. Still I thought they certainly dont mean me. But they did mean me and whilst I cant accept it totally I simply said thanks and let it stand there to look at later. I hear you, I know the pain. I know the incredble feeling to, this wonderous feeling that a praise might be right, just might be justified. It brought light into my life. Safe warm hugs from Germany

  8. oh dear. the number of times i've thought, quietly and only to myself (ever only to myself) "please, please won't you stop being nice? just be quiet. it hurts and i can't take it any more."

    and it does. it really hurts. because it strikes at this place that's just sooo deep that even a millisecond of vulnerability there can be too much. it's awful but it's also exactly what we need. i promise you that and i'm not the sort to make promises lightly.

    most would scoff, i guess. it's just a papercut, they'd say. just put a band aid on and walk away. and that's fine. we can do that. been doing it all our lives. that's the thing.


  9. Personally, I believe you are "A mysterious, multi faceted prism bending and reflecting light." and "A valuable, finely tuned instrument."

    The filing cabinet works as a metaphor for your experience, writing, and thoughts. But the prism and instrument work better for you as a person. Deep within us all sits the caring but unruffled observer, who sees all our craziness, our self-destruction, our fear, and our hiding. That entity, that soul, that god, gives us our light that shines out in whatever way it can. If right now it passes through mazes of wounds, it still comes out, and glows brightly. In your case, it burns with a white-hot flame in your poem of the last post. Honor your light and also the colors with which it shines. Those of us reading do.

    You will make progress as you are ready. It is important, I think, to keep working on ourselves. But it is equally important to accept where we are, who we are, and the face we present to the universe, as things stand right now, however flawed.

    In my own blog I have revealed things about myself that cut to the very core of my self-esteem, that threaten to cut off my legs, so to speak. I was mortified to realize a real-life acquaintance of mine has read some of this material. For a long time I was not anonymous (my anonymity is still a very thin veil.) I felt ripples of terror when I realized I had opened my most inflamed and pustulent (a medical term, meaning filled with pus) core to the world, including those I know in day-to-day life. It still galls me, but I am settling down. If we always hide our injuries, we live falsely, and tell ourselves we are so damaged we cannot go out in the sunshine of society. Everyone has to choose how much of a costume to wear, but my choice lately is to wear my skin. It may offend others, or frighten them, or open me to scorn or ridicule, but the important thing is that I get to be me, and to quit burying my true self in shame.

    Be proud that you showed an intimate part of who you are. It demonstrates a massive heart of courage. Thank you. And please continue to accept the support of those who read.

  10. I like the file cabinet analogy. Interesting. Yes, when someone has been in a dark cave, the warm light of the sun can feel very harsh.

  11. Folks...
    It's been hard to respond to the 'warmth' of your comments and I do so because it is imporatant that you know I haven't ignored your words, rather that I have just found them difficult to take.


    Paula- Thank you for your understanding. I'm so glad that you are in a different place now to the one you were in five years ago though I hear that it is still hard to accept... I like the idea of standing away from it to look at it later. The more I do this stuff, the more I think that may be the only way I can get through it.
    Your hugs are so kind Paula. Thank you. x

    CK - Yes. A papercut. Yes a bandaid and walk away.
    I somehow knew that you would get it.
    It does hurt and I'm so glad that I'm not a freak for feeling that. Somehow, being tough and walking away feels less painful than staying for the millisecond of vulnerability you speak about.
    I know you don't make yur promises lightly. You're not the type.

    Will - Well... I explained a bit in my response to your repsonse on your blog. (Phew! This gets complicated huh?!)
    Will... I don't even know where to start with what you wrote.
    Your reply stopped mein my tracks and has kind of left me reeling slightly.
    I just don't know how to respond and it feels to difficult. So... I'm taking Paula's technique, and to an extent, a bit of yours, in that I just have to sit...
    I'm in awe of your own honesty. Thank you for hearing mine and saying it's ok. x

    Mark - Hi.
    You have summed itup perfectly. A knack of yours, I notice.
    That is exactly how it is and describes the overwhelming harshness of somethng which is supposed to be so lifegiving.
    Thank you. x