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Autobiography in five short chapters…

We went to a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction course a few years ago after being recommended it by our therapist at the time (who also ran the course – hmmm conflict of interest BIG TIME).  So we went obediently along hoping that it would help us be more “present” and slow the dissociative process.  There was a small group of about 10 people and they were quite an eclectic group – school counselors, couple with Parkinson’s Disease, some with anxiety and some with abuse issues.  First off we don’t do well in group settings – have this tendency to clam up unless Sophie can be present and shyly chat with a few other introverts.  So our experience with the whole course was not all that good.  It ended with a day of silent meditation and reflection – otherwise known as triggering hell.

During this course, we were read this poem/short story called Autobiography in Five Short Chapters by Portia Nelson.  Initially we thought that it sort of explained our life – remember we’re hearing impaired and that this was in a group setting where there were influences of the others going “ohhhhh yes, that’s our life”.  Ok, so some of us thought it was therapy dribble that didn’t deserve the time taken to read it – but some of us thought it made sense.  We recently read it again and, possibly with a more cynical eye, wonder about the real message it is sending.  The first two chapters say “It isn’t my fault” and then move onto “It is my fault”.  I’m not sure about anyone else who’s been through abuse, but we ALWAYS blamed ourselves or each other for the abuse from the start.  The hard bit is trying to feel any anger (or anything) towards the abusers.  Surely we asked or deserved to be treated like that, why else would anyone do those things?

There’s an analysis of the poem at another site that talks about the metaphors etc.  But now we question it’s appropriateness for abuse survivors and wonder if it should have been read at the Mindfulness course at all – or maybe it was an indication of the worth/quality of the course???

I was going to try and alter the poem to look at it from an abusive point of view, but can’t.  We aren’t wordsmiths, and the poem just doesn’t suit our experiences.


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