I told my therapist this morning that ‘I don’t know how to say nice things’. ‘What nice things?’, you may be asking. You know…how at times, you are asked to write a character reference for someone who is applying for university or a new job or a grant and you try to write nice things…good and positive attributes of that person? This is the ‘nice things’ that I am talking about. The past three months I agonised over my personal statement that I needed to write in order to convince the university selection committee that I am worthy of one spot out of the twelve allocated for postgraduate studies. Applicants are allowed to ask a family member (or members) to write a character reference. My wife wrote one that for me. It was beautiful. She definitely sees me in a very different light from how I see myself most of the time. Reading what she wrote and looking at the language and words that she used, I realised that I don’t know how to say nice things. If the tables were turned and my wife asked me to write a character reference, I wouldn’t know how to write one. This is sad isn’t it? Knowing that you can’t articulate in words to say how wonderful someone is, especially when that said person is someone really important in your life, has only recently come to my awareness. I don’t have a template on how to do this at all. What I am very good at is saying stinging words of criticism that I have had a lot of practice. I was at the receiving end of a lot of these type of scathing remarks from my teachers and most of all from my mother. They were my mentors in this regard.
Would I ever un-learn this way of communicating? Would I ever find the words needed to say nice things? It’s strange how my experience as an english teacher has not taught me the vocabulary that is needed for a lot of what’s going on with me. The years of abuse has stripped me of any modicum of self respect and all that is left js self-loathing. How can I love and appreciate someone else when I don’t even remotely feel much love for myself? I don’t know… It is so easy to be aware or have insight about what needs to be done to heal from complex trauma. It is putting it into the work that needs to be done through therapy, self-reflection, journaling, meditation is very, very, very difficult.