Thursday, October 25, 2012

Compassion for yourself?

I struggle every once in a while with an anxiety that I know stems from my childhood. When a friend I rely on for support has to go away I often panic. "What am I going to do without her?" This problem is not nearly as bad as it was. It seems to crop up most when I'm going through a period of depression.

This is a fear of abandonment, a terrible feeling that make me feel like a child all over again. I know this is the result of having to leave home often before the age of ten. I was frequently sick and in hospital. In the mid-forties and fifties parents were not allowed to visit, except for brief periods now and then. Being a shy and anxious child these were hard times for me. I was also frequently sent away to stay with someone when my mother was sick. And I clearly remember, when I was seven, eight, and nine years old, being sent away to a health colony for six weeks at a time. Parents were only allowed to visit once, half-way through our time there. It's only in the past few years that I have recognized how traumatic my childhood actually was and how it's affecting me today, at sixty-six.

Yesterday I was feeling that anxiety and I wondered: should I feel compassion for the little child that was still inside me, or would that be feeling sorry for myself? And should I then be forgiving myself for feeling that way? But I didn't do anything wrong, did I?

A friend who also suffered during childhood and is having trouble with her mental health because of it, told me, "No. It's fine to feel compassion for yourself. It doesn't mean you're necessarily feeling sorry for yourself at all. It only means that you should be kind and gentle with yourself." Thinking of it that way comforts me. We need to comfort ourselves, don't we? We need to allow God to comfort us.

And as my thoughts progressed yesterday, I realized that I have compassion for people at Living Room who struggle with anxiety. I can see that the things I'm going through right now are going to help me better understand their pain. And when I have compassion for others, am I not indirectly having compassion for myself as well?

I'm thinking of Jesus now and how He loves us. He has compassion for us, doesn't He? He loves the part of us that still hurts like a little child and He will comfort that child.

Trusting God in this way will go a long way to healing our anxiety.


Anonymous said...

Honest and beautiful as always, Marja. You are an encouragement and a blessing!

marja said...

Thanks for visiting, Anonymous. It's good to know I'm being heard.