In the prison called my mind, grey clouds of mush rush up against one another, thundering loudly above my eyes. Sometimes, I hear the crash so loud it makes me stumble and fall. I try to get up, but the loud sounds keep me down. I am scared. I can’t find my way out of this storm.  I feel the rain pounding on me, telling me I am hopeless. It tells me to believe I am damaged. It makes me feel unloved and unworthy.

My mind plays on me relentlessly. I wonder if it’s all true. It must be so because it feels so. I try to tell it to be quiet, but then it gets even louder, terrifying me. Thunder rolls, and a thought so terrible goes rumbling by. Like a bolt of lightning, I see the truth. I stop breathing. No one loves me for real. No one can ever love me. I feel the lightning thought penetrating through grey mass and the pain, like a sharp knife, wedges itself somewhere deep inside. Thoughts of escaping this prison desperately pound their way through the storm. I need to get out. My mind is exploding. I scream.

And then, as the rain continues pounding through me, and the thunder and lightning continue their show, I feel a gentle hand. It extracts a bit of that grey mass, gently rubbing it between warm palms. Slowly, the little grey bit gets softer. The hand continues rubbing, gently, gently on all the bits of grey mass. Each bit gets a bit of compassionate rubbing, and slowly, I can feel my mind coming back to me. Slowly, ever so slowly, I can start to breathe again.

The prison gates are still there. Painful memories, invalidation, paranoid thoughts, and the all-powerful critique all vie to keep the gates firmly shut. They will not relinquish control too easily. But sometimes, I can reach in, and with hands so warm and steady, I can love that grey mass that’s working so hard. I can gently tell it to relax a bit, while I take over the reins. The grey mass responds surprisingly well, and then I need only remember that I do have the upper hand in this prison. I can set the rules. Even in prison.

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