The tyrant within

Process groups are hard. If you’ve never attended one (and they are a counsellor-y thing to attend!), they are, in effect, a group of people given freedom to voice whatever is happening for them in that moment, often in response to others, trusting that such a process is transforming. They often are, but as with most transformation, often in painful ways.


I recently attended such a group where our dialogue centred on the war between Russia and the Ukraine. My next few blogs will be personal reflections I wrote following this group. They are not meant to make sense politically of the war, but rather are parts of me coming to terms with and making sense of myself and my life in the context of war.


My hope is that they might help you make sense of some things again, too.


The tyrant in me.


Wishes to have the world bend to my wants, however unspoken. Shouts and uses all the power I can get my hands on to enforce subjugation. Is even secretly glad of the injury it inflicts, for it is my own. Feel that impotence! And feel my sufficiency!


The tyrant in me is always right. Its use of power always justified and provoked. And anyhow, I wanted it so. Jumping between all-powerful and powerless; revelling in raging strength.


Yet inwardly, full of sorrow and shame. At the hurt caused but I can hardly face. The injury that will last a lifetime and more.


Face it I must. Face him I must. Come, Tyrant Tom. Come find your place in me. Tell me what you have to say. Tell me what you fear. Tell me you can be fierce.


This reflection is an obvious echo to the perturbing questions around how to make sense of Putin. I do not in this try to psychoanalyse the person (and so, I suspect, to prematurely regain some sense of control and safety). Instead, I try to put words on my individual experiences and inner processes in response to the figure I am presented with. With such self-honesty, even self-confession, I hope that somehow I can keep learning how to be in this world anew.


It was painful to write this, particularly conscious of how I can find myself acting with those closest to me and especially my two boys. However, I believe the pain is worth in: that, to the extent I can learn compassion for this part of me, I might be compassionate towards these parts of them. Then they may not be so plagued by their toddler-esque tyrants and find that they can respond more freely with compassion and strength to the tyrants they find in others.


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