My first experience with this quote came from reading the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews. I love this series because the characters are tested and allowed to grow in spite of or because of their internal and external struggles to live in an uncertain world. Happy ever after comes at a price, and these characters make choices throughout each book to define and fight for their happy ever after.
I read this quote and think about my internal conflict to work with my parts instead of against them to do what is best for all of us. Each part of me likes to think about choices before deciding on a course of action. This way, we are not in doubt and do not have regrets.
Choices are important to us. Knowing we have choices lessens our fear of the unknown.
And reminds us to believe in faith.
Having faith in a higher power feels wrong sometimes. The people who raised us believed in the many versions of the one true God and His related religions. I am skeptical of any organized religion. My parts flat-out disbelieve in organized religion of any kind.
But we accept that not everyone feels this way and respect other people’s religious beliefs.
At times like this, when all of us on the inside are experiencing conflict, confusion, and fear, we all turn to our faith in the higher power. The one who gave us our intelligence, strength, empathy, and resilience as children and showed us how to use them as we aged.
We are not religious in the traditional sense. Sometimes the fear and rage overwhelm our good sense. Then one of us gives in to the confusion and fear. React without stopping to think first. The only goal is to make “it” (fear, confusion, conflict) go away. We don’t have any choices. “It” is now in control of body and mind with only one goal: hurt anyone and everyone in both worlds out of revenge and hatred before everything dies.
Scary isn’t it? The “it” is actually me, or all of us, believing what the abusers taught us to believe about ourselves. And for a long time, that persona is who the outside world interacted with. That persona is only a small part of all of us, one created to protect us and remind us of all the rules we needed to follow in order to survive.
And now, every part of me is breaking that rule…and the others beaten into us as children. The backlash is horrible. It feels and acts differently because this time all parts are involved. It used to be only one or a few parts were suffering, so our therapist could help the ones involved process the memories and move to a better place. Eventually, we all learned to help each other move there in between therapy sessions because sometimes the time between sessions is too long to wait.
We are breaking the rules. All of them. And living by our values instead. The punishment hurts. There is no escape or distraction. Not this time. Not when everyone is experiencing the same feelings, thoughts, sensations. And not when self-care, self-soothing, and all of the other coping strategies mentioned before bring more anxiety instead of relieving it.
So what to do?
I and my parts go to the one coping strategy that never fails us:
Spirituality or belief in a higher power
That means Buddhism for us. For you, maybe it’s something else. Buddhism offers choices and opportunities to learn as we challenge our thoughts and perspectives about everything while also teaching us how to cope with suffering.
Right now I feel a soul deep anger combined with a fear of the unknown as I acknowledge my past and honor the experiences in every way before letting the memories and feelings go back to where they belong. Remembering is hard because I and my parts still feel shame and hurt about the choices we had to make in order to survive. Ivy Baker Priest (first quote) says it well.
For the first time ever, all 88 of us are feeling backlash at the same time. We are breaking the rules beaten into us as children. Rules for behavior, for thought, for living, for surviving. They are not applicable anymore. The pain that comes from breaking these rules comes out as fear, body memories, anger, shame, and hurt. None of these are easy to let go of or soothe with traditional coping strategies. So we turn to our faith in a higher power to help us get through. That higher power is Buddhism.
Thich Nhat Hanh’s words and books help us a lot. We hope they help you too.