I was raised by my Nani and mum for most of the conscious forming part of childhood. Their modus operandi was punishment and harsh criticism. The negatives in any situation, process, or result jumped out at them. They were color blind to neutral and completely blind to the appreciable. The painting was never as beautiful as the cousin’s, marks not full, learning never fast enough. Instructions were inhuman “I don’t care if your hand burns, do not drop the cup”, and “do 15 more laps or stand in the pool till they throw you out”. The sharp edge of their words left pink marks on my skin. If I wandered away at the pool or at the fair, if I ever got lost, I’d be slapped when found. Then a strong adult hand would drag me away by the upper arm.

My adult consciousness is made in their image and I am trying to educate it in kindness.

A PTSD mind lives mostly in the past or the future and in the implication of the past on its future; it catastrophes tiny moles into hills. I am teaching myself to stay with the mole. That while the past was traumatic, the future- unknown with the chances of slight catastrophe, in the present, I am. I am learning to be available for it. Today, as I did guided meditation, my mind wandered off to my to-do list and coffee. As if reading my mind, the instructor said “if your mind has wandered, bring it back, gently. If you can’t, know that you are doing a good job, that you have made an effort. Be compassionate and kind to yourself” Tears rolled down my cheeks for the rest of the session.

I am educating myself in Gentleness. It goes against everything taught and learned in my spine. It takes me opening up the CPU of my brain, understanding the motherboard, the wires, the IC circuits, and erasing some modules to put new ones in place. The heavy rock at the center of her chest is liquifying. For moments at a stretch, I manage to be in the present and acknowledge that I am more than my anxieties, my joys, my yearnings, and my productivity; that I just am.

Now when a cup breaks, I ask myself “are you hurt? did it scare you?” Now when I wander off at the public pool or at a fair, I bring myself back with compassion and kindness. Gently. The grip on the arm softens, and blood flows where the nails had left pink marks.

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