Not too long ago, I was in a perpetual state of feeling sorry for myself. Seeing that I was feeling sorry for myself, and knowing that self-pity is not useful, did not shift the situation at all. In fact, it made it worse; somehow the feeling that I should be able to choose a higher way of looking at the circumstances in my life became another way to feel bad about myself. Analyzing the situation was hopeless. I felt stuck, and I was sure I was going to remain that way forever.
The content of my malaise was about as common and stereotypical as you can get: reasonably attractive, brainy and soulful woman, still single on the brink of forty, with no husband or family (things I had wanted since my early thirties) in sight. Loneliness, in conjunction with a sense that I had failed miserably at my life despite copious amounts of self-inquiry and growth, began to takeover. Caught in a dreaded loop, the more that time passed, the more my negative feelings were enforced.
I knew I had many things in my life that were amazing, yet somehow I was not able to appreciate them. Through the help of a brilliant mentor who knows my sensibilities and who has cultivated the talent of asking the right questions, I was reminded that I had always followed and pursed growth above all things. In his reflections I saw the many opportunities for family life that I had passed up in favor of something more congruent to my exploratory nature. In a spirit of creativity and play, he invited me to envision, as a character, the part of me that liked to interpret my present situation as a failure; the part that was a cruel killer of hope, and to come up with an image that represented it. The idea was that if I could see and name the enemy, I could conquer it.
The image that came to me almost immediately was the evil Queen from snow white. You know, “Mirror, mirror on the wall whose the fairest . . .?” I began to study her. I found pictures of her on the Internet. I reread Snow White. I discovered that the evil Queen not only wanted to kill the younger, fairer Snow White, but she wanted her heart in a box. That narcissistic bitch wanted the young ingénue’s heart. Hmmmm.
Well, that was it. I wasn’t go to spend another second giving my precious heart over to some inner witch who wanted to kill me and steal it. It was mine, and I was ready to keep it protected for good.
I began to print out pictures of the Queen and paste them around my house in particular places where she might be lurking, waiting to pounce on my vitality. I stuck her on the bathroom mirror, which never fails to remind me of my age in a negative way. I stuck her on my computer, for the times when I log on and into pictures of other people’s happy families and then fall prey to comparison mode. If I went to visit my sister and her beautiful family, I would bring the Queen with me in the car, so that when she would be waiting to bring me down after the visit, I could anticipate her being there and jockey for position on the inner throne of my being, reminding myself that being different from my sister was OK. As I outmaneuvered the Queen, I was encouraged by my sense of power in the matter. I could choose to fight her and keep hope alive.
At first I would catch myself in an inner headlock with her, and sometimes she would win and I would end up flat out on my back. It took a few months, but I now have the upper hand, and since I got her game, I have not spent more than a few minutes at a time in the clutches of this inner enemy. Truthfully I find her boring and pathetic, which is hard to believe, since at one time, she was so compelling.
And, sorry to make it a “fairy tale” ending, but the space left in my being by her absence has been filled by a wonderful intimacy; first with a new part of myself, and more recently with a prince of sorts.
If you are suffering from self-loathing, I encourage you to name it, see it and fight it. Outsmart it. Kill for your hope. Your heart is worth fighting for. Win it back from the clutches of darkness.
to Inner Actions
Click below to e-mail this article to a friend
or to post a link on your favorite sites.
BLAIR GLASER, MA, LCAT, RDT has taught women around the country innovative skills and new ways of thinking to improve their experience in their bodies, at work and in relationship. She has run workshops at retreat centers around the country, including Omega in Rhinebeck, NY and at her studio in Woodstock, NY. She is a New York licensed creative arts therapist, teaches drama therapy at a graduate level at Pratt Institute, and has guest-lectured about drama therapy at New Rochelle College, The New School, and New York University. She has run drama therapy groups with several different populations, including a group for teenage girls that she was recruited to facilitate by actor-activist Jane Fonda . She is in private practice and also speaks at conferences and gatherings.
Blair also worked from 1998 to 2004 as part of the core staff of Eve Ensler's V-Day, a movement to stop violence against women and girls, corresponding with women all over the world about issues of empowerment. Blair's articles have appeared online in UK's feminist e-zine, FLOW, at Sexual Health.com, and in the Hudson Valley Arts/ Spirit / Culture publication; Chronogram. You can visit Blair's web site at www.blairglaser.com.
to Inner Actions