MMP: When Mortification Turns Into Compassion

by Rebecca A. Watson on October 27, 2014

in Monday Morning Pages, perception, Recovery, writing

**Trigger warning: This post talks a bit about child abuse. Nothing in great detail, but if you’re sensitive I wanted to give you a heads up.**

Last week when I wasn’t feeling well, I decided to watch Mortified Nation, a documentary recommended to me by a good friend. It’s on Netflix right now. I highly recommend it.

The premise is that people read their journals from when they were teenagers. On stage. In front of a bunch of people. And it’s brilliant. Here’s the trailer.

After I watched it I thought, What a perfect idea for my Monday Morning Pages! I’ll dig out some of my old notebooks from high school, find something embarrassing and funny, and then video me reading it!

old journals

There they are, in all of their ’90s glory.

But something happened when I went back to read them. Now, understand that I’ve poured through these dozens of times. It’s obvious that while I was writing them I was in serious denial of the abuse and subsequent depression I was dealing with. And in the past I’ve used them to show myself, See! You aren’t nuts. Your life WAS really messed up.

I think this was the first time I went in knowing that, accepting that, about my life. This time, I was looking for the lighter moments. It’s something my therapist has asked me to focus on as well, so it was fulfilling multiple purposes.

I read through a few weeks, found a few gems (“I left the Internet on this morning. Shit, now the phone’s gonna be busy all day. I’m in so much trouble.”) and headed off to do a little cooking. I noticed my hands were shaking. I was really short of breath. In a detached way I noticed I was having a panic attack.

I got through it with a little help from Sante and had a spectacular day exploring some castle ruins and hiking along a river with a good friend. But it got my attention. And then I read this in my meditation book this morning:

diving into yourself

The thing that really stuck with me was the line about the terrible, frightening journey. As I read through my journals from the last few years, I can tell I’ve been doing that. Dealing with my own stuff as it comes up.

In 2012 I went back to my hometown when my grandma was sick, which meant being close to my abusers for the first time since I started this journey of healing:

I just wish I didn’t have to deal with it. Yes it’d be nice if everyone got along and that you’d grown up in a loving environment but you didn’t, so deal with the hand you’ve got.

It’s just embarrassing that I still want a relationship with this woman?!? You had a very inappropriate relationship when you were younger, which primed you to be addicted to her your whole life. So that’s what it is — that’s how you must treat it.

And in 2013, after I’d gotten far enough away from my abusers (Europe is far enough, right?) that I could finally confront them (via mail) without fear:

I felt a lot less trepidation at the idea of dealing this abuse. Now I just need help from the Universe to release the depression but also to accept my healing as it is.

Part of me wants to know every intimate detail of the abuse [my memories are in pieces] so I can feel justified in my anger and the way I’ve left [my abusers] hanging. So I can have righteous pain and anger.

But another part of me (maybe the denial part of me) thinks there is no need to know it all and that whatever I know is good enough. I must accept what I can and can not know.

The key phrase in all of this, though, is as it comes up. I’ve come to a peace with my abusers and my past within myself. But since then I haven’t gone digging around in my past.

That panic attack I think came from the fact that it was the first time I looked at my life as a child without my guard up. I didn’t have my usual defenses. I went in there inspired — believing that no matter how bad, everyone’s life has humor in it. And that’s true. Mine definitely did.

But it was also really, really sad. Really hard for that little girl. And I think that was one of the best things I could do, because it gave me a compassion and understanding I’d never had before.

What a big step. I think that’s part of the space, peace and divine sort of nothing my meditation was talking about. If not part of it, it’s on the way to it, that’s for sure.

So while I’m not going to be vlogging from my high school journals any time soon, I do feel like the Mortified Monday idea helped me in a huge way. So cheers to that!

Wondering what this Monday Morning Pages thing is all about? Read how it started. Or check out all the archives.

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