Dear Ones –

Shame is a war that you fight against yourself.

I know this because I'm a veteran of that war.

In fighting that war, I did more damage to myself than anyone has ever done to me. After my divorce, and during my battle with depression, I attacked myself and degraded myself on a daily basis with outrageous fury. I never stopped assaulting myself with my list of my faults. I degraded myself, I punished myself, and I called myself by the most insulting names you could imagine (LOSER, FAILURE, FUCK-UP, BITCH, CRYBABY, SINNER, COWARD, IDIOT, etc.)

If it had been a stranger on the street holding me at knife-point, dragging me through the gutters, and shouting all those awful words at me, that person would have been arrested. There would have been an Order of Protection. That person would've been put in prison for kidnapping and assault.

But my attacker lived within the prison of my mind — and how do you protect yourself from yourself?

I did it by finally putting down the knife that I was holding to my own throat.

I did it by calling an end to the war.

I did it by opening up my journal every single day to a blank page, and writing these words to myself: "I love you. I'm here for you. How can I help you?"

Then — as a reply — I would rant on the page, and cry out in pain, and abuse myself, and list all my shame and failures and disasters and fears.

Then the loving part of me would write on the next line: "I know. I know everything that has happened. But it doesn't matter. I love you, anyway. I'm here for you and I want to help you. And I'm never going to allow anyone to speak to with such hatred — not even you yourself."

We did that for MONTHS — me and my broken self. Actually, we did it for almost two years.

Believe me — the most hateful part of me fought back against the most loving part of me, and fought back HARD. The hateful part said, again and again, "You don't deserve compassion, you asshole."

The loving part responded to the hateful part: "Why do you think you are so special and unique, that you — among all beings on earth — are not deserving of compassion?"

And so it would go, page after page after page.

The hateful part of me was strong, but the loving part of me was stubborn. Eventually, the loving part would always get the hateful part to drop the knife. It might take hours, but we would get there.

Then the loving part would ask me, "What can we do for you today, Liz? What would be a kind and healing gesture that you could offer yourself? Should we go to a nice bookstore? Should we take a walk in the sun? Should we call somebody who cares about us, just to hear a friendly voice? Should we get out of bed, maybe?"

Then, together, all the parts of me (the lost parts, the shamed parts, the shakily hopeful parts) would get out of bed and move through another day — exhausted, but with all the weapons dropped…at least for now.

And the next day we would start all over again.

Until all the dogs of war eventually surrendered, and laid their fury DOWN.

Love trumps all.


via Elizabeth Gilbert’s Facebook Wall