This feels like such shake-your-head-in-disbelief kind of impeccable timing. Because being gentle, both to myself and others is something I’ve been struggling with these last couple of days. (And by struggling with, I mean I’ve failed 120%. I’ve been terrible, with everybody…)
The first thing I thought this morning when I read this word, whilst still reeling, still terrified and armoured up, and angry, was a feeling. This is what I wrote:
Being gentle is to walk up to somebody, remove all your layers, to stand in front of them naked and be stupid enough to hand them a choice of perfectly sharpened instruments from which to choose. To just stand there as they split you in two, disembowel you, tear through to your very core, entrails spilling out. It’s to be weak and vulnerable, and it’s asking to be hurt. Its allowing it to happen and putting up no fight.
Safe to say, those words came from a very young, scared, walled up place. Where a child trusts nobody but themselves, where they let no one in, where nobody is safe, and everybody is a threat. Where they stay so closed up, rely on only themselves. And tonight, many hours later, that feels unbearably sad to me. The grief in growing up being scared to open yourself up to gentleness is a tidal wave ready to drown me. And I haven’t cried properly (without shutting it off) for far too long, which explains why today it came all of a sudden, when I thought I was okay, and I just couldn’t control or stop it, however hard I tried.
So this week I’ve failed in being gentle all around. I’ve not been gentle to the people that I love, because I’ve been living in a place of threat and fear, even though it was my trauma talking, and so the threats and fear were based moreso in the past than the present. And I’ve also not been gentle to myself. Generally I think (I hope) I’m a fairly gentle person, and had I been thinking differently when I wrote the aspire post, this is definitely something I aspire to be, both to myself and to others. But it’s not always the easiest.
In terms of being gentle to myself, it’s something I find very hard a lot of the time – pc and I are very good at being gentle with each other and others, but both of us find it a great deal harder to grant ourselves the same gentleness. If I try to think why, I think its because it comes from a place of never having received that, and where receiving it feels like a trap, not genuine, only to be swiped back when you don’t expect it. Gentleness wasn’t well practiced in our household. Terror, fear, anger, hostility…yes. Gentleness…no. And it wasn’t safe. That’s the part that breaks my heart extra tonight. That I had to tell myself to toughen up, that it was no big deal, to stop thinking about it and get on with it. Because there was no space for anything else, and anything else would have led to even more hostility, anger, annoyance. It simply wasn’t safe. I had to deal with it alone, and to do that I needed to wall myself up, and be strict and tough on myself. That I blamed myself, and still often do, to keep myself strong. And now, I just wish I could go back to little me, and little pc too, and be the gentle loving soul that we both desperately needed.
And yet it’s funny, because I was always known in school for being kind, and considerate and, I think, gentle. I won school awards year after year for a combination of those things. And maybe that’s just me, how I was born, or maybe more likely, I think it’s something I learnt to be through knowing what I needed, what I wish people had given to me, and subconsciously, becoming the kind of person I wish there were more of in my life. And there’s a somewhat selfish aspect to this, in that being gentle to other people also feels like being gentle to myself at the same time somehow.
So this post feels all over place, and I don’t think it makes much sense, and I feel like there’s more I wanted to say. But it’s been a long day and is now 2.55am here. So i’ll end by simply saying this word feels significant to my life. And I hope to always be gentle. Guarded when needed, but also gentle. Particularly to those I love… and that needs to start to include myself. That’s something I want to, actually need to, do better at. The little one in me has waited so long, and deserves that finally.