Tag Archive: struggle


IMG_8209

In July a friend posted a link to this article “Against Self-Criticism: Adam Phillips on How Our Internal Critics Enslave Us, the Stockholm Syndrome of the Superego, and the Power of Multiple Interpretations” – it’s one of those rabbit hole things where you follow links within links to whole other articles… in a good way.  I think I experience some intersectionality in self-criticism being female and having a spirituality that calls me to try and live as a “good” person. Parking tidbits here so I keep thinking about them.

  • what kind of person would your critic be if you met them in person?
    boring? cruel? bully? abusive? would you keep them in your life?
  • if the critic mutilates, deforms, distorts our character… whose voices do you trust to speak to your character? what would you say if it were happening to someone else? what does it look like to defend yourself the way you would defend someone else against this kind of negativity? what techniques do you have for combating the critic when it’s a voice that feels loud?
  • the article refers to this critic as a mechanism of “unrelenting internal violence”. As an advocate of non-violence what tools and techniques are available to you to respond to, engage with and mitigate the impact of the critic?

 

“…in our capacity for merciless self-criticism. We tend to go far beyond the self-corrective lucidity necessary for improving our shortcomings, instead berating and belittling ourselves for our foibles with a special kind of masochism.”

“In Freud’s vision of things we are, above all, ambivalent animals: wherever we hate, we love; wherever we love, we hate. If someone can satisfy us, they can also frustrate us; and if someone can frustrate us, we always believe that they can satisfy us. We criticize when we are frustrated — or when we are trying to describe our frustration, however obliquely — and praise when we are more satisfied, and vice versa. Ambivalence does not, in the Freudian story, mean mixed feelings, it means opposing feelings… these contradictory feelings are our ‘common source’ they enter into everything we do. They are the medium in which we do everything. We are ambivalent, in Freud’s view, about anything and everything that matters to us; indeed, ambivalence is the way we recognize that someone or something has become significant to us… Where there is devotion there is always protest… where there is trust there is suspicion.”

“You can only understand anything that matters — dreams, neurotic symptoms, literature — by overinterpreting it; by seeing it from different aspects as the product of multiple impulses. Overinterpretation here means not settling for one interpretation, however apparently compelling it is. Indeed, the implication is — and here is Freud’s ongoing suspicion, or ambivalence, about psychoanalysis — that the more persuasive, the more compelling, the more authoritative, the interpretation is, the less credible it is, or should be. The interpretation might be the violent attempt to presume to set a limit where no limit can be set.”

 

 

To Xia

My dear,
I’ll never give up the struggle for freedom from the oppressors’
jail, but I’ll be your willing prisoner for life.

I’m your lifelong prisoner, my love
I want to live in your dark insides
surviving on the dregs in your blood

inspired by the flow of your estrogen

I hear your constant heartbeat
drop by drop, like melted snow from a mountain stream
if I were a stubborn, million-year rock
you’d bore right through me
drop by drop

day and night

Inside you
I grope in the dark
and use the wine you’ve drunk
to write poems looking for you
I plead like a deaf man begging for sound
Let the dance of love intoxicate your body

I always feel
your lungs rise and fall when you smoke
in an amazing rhythm
you exhale my toxins
I inhale fresh air to nourish my soul

I’m your lifelong prisoner, my love
like a baby loath to be born
clinging to your warm uterus
you provide all my oxygen
all my serenity

A baby prisoner
in the depths of your being
unafraid of alcohol and nicotine
the poisons of your loneliness
I need your poisons
need them too much

Maybe as your prisoner
I’ll never see the light of day
but I believe
darkness is my destiny
inside you
all is well

The glitter of the outside world
scares me
exhausts me
I focus on
your darkness –
simple and impenetrable

 

The poem was written by Liu Xiaobo, anti communist, writer, poet, activist, for his wife Xia from prison.

IMG_7771

“It must be our prayer. In spite of the fact that the prayer is denied, reviled, contradicted, made sport of, mistranslated every hour of every day – by the powers and dominations, by Church and State, by law courts and schools and think tanks. Yet, the prayer needs to be verified, insisted on, repeated, persisted in, learned by heart, shouted in unison, enacted, pondered. It exists indeed only to the degree that it makes sense to Christians, that they stretch their wills and voices to its understanding. To make of it their credo; to make of eternity their native ground.

…At every hour his angel of deliverance comes to us. In noise and stench and foolish anger, and the ever-flowing spate of damaged lives. In the evidence of breakup all around – broken bones, broken hopes, splayed carcasses of sound beginnings. In this jail. Where we must dwell. Not a lake of glass, you understand. But in a desert of fire. The ever present demons within. enticements. Despair. Depression of spirit. Disabused hopes. And even with one another; a certain paralysis, outreach cut short.

…The prayer would deny it.  “All manner of things shall be well.”  We must, by sheer grit of faith, live in that future, live it until it is as vividly present as any beloved possession, any loved one, could well be.  We join those for whom all manner of things is well; they join with us, for whom all manner of things is intolerably unwell. The future and the present join hands – barely, but truly. The meeting is incandescent, an ecstasy in the midst of torment.
You can understand the prayer, its audacious character, only if you understand this: the prayer is everywhere and at all times denied.”

 

An excerpt from Beside the Sea of Glass by Daniel Berrigan

 

IMG_7411

Re-lie

IMG_6973

You want to lie
to cover up what you
think of as incompetency,
letting people down…
That’s a narrative that
reassures who you want
to be to yourself.
Selfish is closer to the truth,
sinful is closer to the truth,
human is closest to the truth.
When did being human become
something you had to lie about
and “cover up”?

Talitha Fraser

I dream

IMAG1202

Lay your burdens down child

IMAG0913 copy

At the beach this week I found myself writing a bit of a song of lament and solace but can see it having several applications perhaps as prayer of confession of self, powers and politics.

Lay your burdens down, burdens down, burdens down child x2

Chorus
I will come to you, come to you, come to you child x2
I will lift you up, lift you up, lift you up child x2

Let your tears fall down, tears fall down, tears fall down child x2

Variations
Lay your:  troubles/darkness/heartbreak/sorrow… down
Lay: what scares you/what’s hurting/what’s broken… down
Lay your: body/spirit/hunger/weapons… down
Lay your: anger/sadness/hatred… down
Lay your: power/whiteness/stigma/baggage…down

 

img_1116

 

Yes, “the truth will set you free” as Jesus says (John 8:32) but first it tends to make you miserable. The medieval spiritual writers called it compunction, the necessary sadness and humiliation that comes from seeing one’s own failures and weaknesses.  Without confidence in a Greater Love, none of us will have the courage to go inside, nor should we… People only come to deeper consciousness by intentional struggle with contradictions, conflicts, inconsistencies, inner confusions, and what the biblical tradition calls “sin” or moral failure… God actually relishes the vacuum, which God knows God alone can fill… in other words, the goal is actually not the perfect avoidance of all sin, which is not possible anyway (1 John 1:8-9 and Romans 5:12) but the struggle itself, and the encounter and wisdom that comes from it. Law and failure create the foil, which creates the conflict, which leads to a very different kind of victory, not moral superiority but just luminosity of awareness and compassion for the world.

p.31-32

hurt people, hurt people

IMG_9500

whoever said:
“what you don’t know can’t hurt you”
was an idiot.
what I don’t know
hurts me all the time
not knowing how to articulate
what I need or want
and wanting you to provide it
and being disappointed when you don’t
hurts me
not knowing how my upbringing,
my culture, my experiences
shape the filter by which I take life in
– not recognising you have a filter you relate out of too –
hurts me
not knowing how intergenerational trauma
has affected my great grandparents, grandparents,
parents and siblings and self
hurts me
it’s a lie to think that not talking about things
will make them hurt less.

Talitha Fraser

berrigan blog(photo credit: chedmyers.org)

(to the Plowshares 8, with love)

by Daniel Berrigan

Some stood up once, and sat down.
Some walked a mile, and walked away.

Some stood up twice, then sat down.
“It’s too much,” they cried.
Some walked two miles, then walked away.
“I’ve had it,” they cried,

Some stood and stood and stood.
They were taken for fools,
they were taken for being taken in.

Some walked and walked and walked –
they walked the earth,
they walked the waters,
they walked the air.

“Why do you stand?” they were asked, and
“Why do you walk?”

“Because of the children,” they said, and
“Because of the heart, and
“Because of the bread,”

“Because the cause is
the heart’s beat, and
the children born, and
the risen bread.”

 

Reflecting these past weeks on the life and works of Daniel Berrigan who died 30 April 2016, he is now among that cloud of witnesses (Heb 12:1) that ask us to ask of ourselves: “On what will you spend your life?”. I think it is fair to say that he knew something of endurance, on the cost of that he commented: “I think it’s kind of the price you pay for the bus ride”.

In his book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Covey suggests writing your own eulogy – what do you imagine you want to hear said about you by family, friends, colleagues… are you making the choices now… living the life now… that will lead you where you want to go? …that will see you develop and grow up to be the best you can imagine? I don’t imagine Daniel Berrigan did this exercise but I do not doubt he was effective. Why did he live as he did? Make the choices that he did?

“Because the cause is
the heart’s beat, and
the children born, and
the risen bread.”

What will you live for?

What makes your life meaningful will give you a meaningful life.
Do not wait until you are dying to start.