Episode 7: Two Steps Forward...Ten Steps Back
We all fall short at times. We learn something and then make the same mistake again and again. This episode talks about why this happens and how it's part of our growth and progression.
Today we're going to be talking about the losses that we have felt as well as who we are today or who we are striving to become, and looking at gaining our self worth, and why we need to be doing that. I follow an account on Instagram. It is narc abuse coach. And he posted something that was so profound to me. It's easy, it is exactly what I already know. But the way he said it stated it and his post about it felt like yes, this is exactly what we should be doing. We definitely need to heal and gain are self worth.
So his original post in the square said decoding the narcissist. And then it says narcissist, don't you remember how good things were at the start? And then he has a translation of really what the narcissist is saying when he says that. The translation is, my mask is about to fall, or I'm about to lose all control over you. So I'm revivifying the fake love to confuse you to shift your focus from reality and keep you trapped in the spiderweb. I can't let you go so easily.
Now he got that quote from emotional abuse recovery. He goes on to say, Do you firmly believe that building up self worth is a must to after leaving the narcissist? Well, I think yes, I think it is a must to build that back up. So he goes on to say, it is your duty and an obligation to heal the connection with your inner self, the self that you have been neglecting for ages, the self that is wounded since you were a child, the self that deserves your attention, affection, compassion, love and respect. It deserves every nice thing that you have been giving to others to those who never deserved it.
And the harsh reality is you can't heal completely until you establish a strong connection with that self, get to know what it stands for, and how it can complete you the way you never feel empty again. So he goes on to comment about finding who we are about not having that hollowness feeling anymore. giving a voice to ourselves, and being willing to love ourselves for real, to become whole again. And isn't that what we want? Don't we want to do that?
That inspired me to look back in my journal, and found a page that I had written back probably a year maybe not quite a year and a half after my first divorce. So this would have been in about 2016. And I had been working in therapy on mindfulness. and I was having a hard time kind of getting through that. And as I was doing the homework that I had been assigned, I felt inspired to kind of make this list. I made the list in three columns. The first one was I liked who I was and the life that I lead. So this was pre finding out about the addiction and all of the betrayal. Then the middle column was all the damage that's been done, or the losses that I've had. And the third list column was who I am now.
It was really interesting to start writing and the words just came out really quickly. And I think it's because I had been in therapy already for so long that I was able to uncover some of the things that I felt the positive things about myself, as well as all the losses. Because I already knew words for the different emotions. And I already had uncovered a lot of these things anyway. But in this moment, these things just came to my mind. So in the first column of I liked who I was and the life I lead, I'm just going to kind of read down these so you can kind of see who I felt I was at the time. \
I thought I was strong and happy and kind. I was giving and faithful. I was a listener and a good friend. I had a successful business. I helped in my kids classroom. I laughed a lot. I like to travel, I served meals or dropped off gifts to serve people. I had already had boundaries towards other moral things in my house I'd been keeping for years. I loved it that my neighbor kids hung out at my house with my children. And I made sure that we were eating family dinners most of the time. We did scriptures and prayer with our kids. I liked physical intimacy, and I offered love in all physical ways, hugging, kissing, hand holding sex, cuddling, talking together, I liked all those things. I liked being a leader. I liked being an advice giver, and I was a trustworthy person.
So then, that was like, wow, I liked all those things. And at the time, I was feeling like I was no longer the person I used to be, and I was wanting her back. So then I went on with the column of all the damage that's been done. Trust in a partner and in self, the damage to love intimacy, my self worth, infidelity broke me, broken, hearted, mistreated, abused, I wasn't accepted. I wasn't enough. I wasn't worth it. How I see my appearance now. I gave all he didn't give back. He takes. Uncertainty, loneliness, triple the responsibility, mine his and repairing all of the losses, not being valued, cared for physical injuries, I would get sick more often.
My aches and pains were different. Tears, so many tears, all the feelings of sadness, despair, anger, hurt, disgust, neglect, lies, deceit, laughing, manipulation, blame, loss of a partner, loss of intimate connection. And the loss really is I don't know who I am anymore. So as I then thought, Okay, well, who am I now? Because my counsel was trying to have me do this mindfulness homework so that I could see who I've become, and what parts of me are still there, and what parts maybe I now have that I maybe didn't have before.
So I started on that list who I am now. Strong, capable, yet I'm unsure how to grasp it, kind, giving, faithful, obedient to God, I'm a listener. I'm a good friend, I'm spiritual. I'm a teacher and a leader. I'm an in tune Mother. I like to serve. I'm a hope giver, a writer, a sponsor. I'm still really good with boundaries. And even better now. I have wisdom and insight, inspiration, revelation, scripture reader, prayer. And I'm a lover of inspirational quotes, messages, and talks. And most important, who I am now, I'm free.
As I was inspired to read that today, it brought back all the feelings I was feeling at that time and how I felt so conflicted. I remember feeling trapped, like I'm tangled up. The damage is all weaved in and enmeshed into my system. I've got the old me, the damaged me, the new me. And I felt like I was trapped. And I remember telling my counselor, if I'm supposed to figure this out, I feel like I should have a new vessel. Because my body is mixing all of this together and it feels like I can't get out. I kind of was feeling stressed, and almost claustrophobic on the inside of me, because of this damage. And because it was weaved together.
It's like all these fine threads like they're all tangled up of all this. And I'm thinking how am I supposed to do this? How am I supposed to take all of this new life, old life damage, weave through it, figure it out and be at peace and feel whole again. I brought this up in counseling. And my counselor took my notebook and he drew a picture. And on it, it was basically the head of a woman. And in the center kind of her eyes, brain area, he drew a circle with the symbol of the Ying and Yang. And on one side, he wrote eternal life. And he wrote or drew a picture of an angel. And on the other one, he drew a picture of a devil and he wrote eternal death.
And he said to me, there is opposition, both sides reside in us. So we can choose. Which is the same idea as I have the old life, the damage and the new life, right. And I'm trying to clear out the damage and have the things that have happened to me. Because I'm going to remember them, they're not going to go away, I'm going to have those things. But I'm also going to breathe new life into who I am, how I want to live who I want to be what I want to focus on. So even though the damage is still there, I can still feed off of learn and heal and come out with all of the healing that I need.
So with that picture he had me do some work about what's going on with that and I was so against this picture. I hated it so much. I was like there should not be any dark at all. There should be all good. I should be able to heal all this and be whole again because this was taken from me and I wasn't like this before. So as I did my work, I noticed that I was resisting it. I didn't know how to be different. I didn't know how to how to live and become something in someone that I had never been. I didn't really know how to be alone.
For one here I am divorced at that point. I don't know how to thrive without my person to talk to and decide together things. I don't want to decide things alone. That's how I was feeling. I was like sitting in waiting, waiting for something. But for nothing. I didn't know what this life was supposed to look like and who I was supposed to be in it. It didn't feel like mine. It really felt like I had stepped into someone else's life. And I was thinking, Okay, I don't know how to how to live in this person's life. Why am I in here, it feels so unfamiliar.
My counselor had wanted me to be mindful of what I was feeling, what I was going through, this other person's life that I thought I was in, and start noticing and looking at who I was, what had happened and what life I was in now. So that I could gain some sense of grounding, that actually, this is my life. And I just had to learn to come to an acceptance of it, and also how I was supposed to live in it. So as I was doing that, I realized and what he was sharing with me was that having both sides in there having both experiences, the bad and the good, would help me learn.
It would help me have a more conviction, in my thoughts and in my choices of who I wanted to be and what I wanted to be. Because I could already see who I was becoming with the damage. I already felt the disarray and the chaos and the feelings that I was being smothered to death in fear and the unknown. And also in the resentment of I cannot believe this is my life. I do not know how many times I said, I cannot believe this is my life. This cannot be my life.
There's just no way this is just, this is insane. It feels crazy. So to be able to see that and be able to really look at it and go, okay, it really is up to me to decide which life I want. Do I want the life of the past in the pain and the sadness and the regret? Or do I want the life that's new, even though I don't know what it looks like? Do I want the promise of hope and healing and moving forward and finding somebody new, or moving on with my life with a career or friends or however it looked. Which one did I want?
Of course I did not want to stay in all the pain. I could barely breathe and all that pain. I honestly felt like I was dying so much of the time. And so that's where I had to learn some of these things that that narc abuse coach posted about about learning self worth, learning who we are. Learning how to heal and talk to our younger self, our inner child, the person that has been harmed for so long, the person that we weren't taking care of. It's one of those things that you don't realize how neglectful that we've been to ourselves when we didn't know better.
But now it's like becoming awake. We know better now. And so because I started to know better, I needed to do better. I needed to change things. I couldn't go on the way I was. I had to think different and be different. When I agreed with myself and my counselor that I would move forward, my first initial reaction from my body was panic. It went moving forward? I don't...I don't know. And the words that kind of ran through my head were words like lonely, scary, unknown, not secure. I don't know how to do this. That's another thing I said over and over again.
I would say I don't know how to do this. I don't know how to do this! I would scream it. I would write it on paper. I would scribble it. I would tell it to God. I would tell it to my counselor over and over and over again. And I learned that you can't really look in your past to figure out how to do it, which is the only place we know. We don't know what we don't know. We don't know what we haven't tried yet. We don't know what we haven't learned yet. And so our natural response is to turn and look backwards. What have we done before when we felt this way?
I had to come to that place of wait a second, I haven't been successful at it totally yet. Or if I have it's been in a different situation. So I need to look and uncover new ways, new ways of thinking new ways of doing things, new ways of moving forward through something that's hard. And really strive to resist that temptation and that urge to look backwards because looking backwards skewed my view of what was really reality. And so I had to do it that way.
There were lots of things that I did in therapy, to get to a place of feeling new things and uncovering things. And as I would work, I would come to my sessions and feel overwhelmed with certain things. At times, I'd feel like I have no value, I have no worth, I have nothing to offer. The only thing that I'm even kind of doing well at is being a mother. And I used to be a good wife. And now I don't even get to be that. I felt like I couldn't function and most of the things.
I was doing things that I wasn't releasing any of my feelings and fears, and so they were basically just stacking on top of each other. And I've mentioned this in another podcast before in another episode, but I think it's important to remember that when we get so overwhelmed, it's because there's too much on our mind at the time, and we can't actually work on it or deal with it until we remove or release some of these things so we can see clear again, and we can be grounded.
I've told you before about clearing it out somehow, when we're really stressed. For me, it was going on drives talking out loud to God telling them all this stuff. It was writing in a journal, or exercising at times, or whatever I needed to do. And once I could clear it out of my head, I could then say, Okay, I'm clear, what can I do? But my counselor gave me one that is so helpful. Whenever we're overwhelmed with anything, whenever we feel triggered, or anxious, or have too much on our plate. He says, to imagine a container, everybody's container is gonna look different. It's all gonna be different.
He says, Look at this container in your mind. What is it made of? What shape s it? What color is it? How big is it? Where is it at? Okay, well, mine, it's kind of above me in front of me a little bit. Mine was a cylinder, kind of a cement cylinder. At one point, I wanted it to be cute. And I made it all with flowers on it. And it was decorated, and it was colorful. But another time it was ugly, and blank and hard and not peaceful. Doesn't matter what it is. It meant something different for each different thing that I was in. But basically, the idea of the container is, when you're in a place of, I don't know how to do this, or I'm nothing or I am overwhelmed or this is too much, I can't sort this out, you imagine your container.
Everything that's inside of your head swirling around or inside the pit of your stomach that is causing you so much anxiety, or your heart is just overwhelmed with grief. You imagine your container, and you close your eyes and you think about what is hindering you. And you imagine yourself putting it into this container. It can have a lid on it. It can have a a lock on it. It could have whatever you want. And one by one, you just keep putting all of this stuff into the container. Now the container is not meant for it to be trapped away forever.
You're never going to have to look at it. Because that's like putting things under the rug. In therapy and in healing and doing all of our work like we are doing, we are not putting anything under the rug. But what it does is it holds it. It's a holding space. You put everything in there until you're breathing. You're like, Okay, I don't think I have anything left to put in there. And then you put it aside for a minute. And you say, Okay, I'm going to put it aside for a minute. And when I'm feeling a little better, I'm going to come back and I'm going to deal with these issues one thing at a time.
And then as you're ready and you're working in therapy, and you're working with your counselor about different issues that you're going through, you can then take that one issue and you can start working on it. You have much better progress doing it that way because you're seeing clear and it's not all jumbled up. The other thing about having everything on your plate is instead of it being a small, little detail that you have to work on, it becomes extreme. And we go to the extremes when we don't know what we're doing. And now all is lost. And I can't do any of this. And I'm never going to be good at any of this. I'm going to fail at all of this.
It becomes overwhelming and it overpowers us. So this container can be super helpful in sorting things, in relieving stress and pain, in working through triggers. I've done this same thing when I've been in public places when I've been at the grocery store or the mall. I was at the mall this one time over the holidays. And it was so packed. And I was no longer married. I felt very alone and I felt very much in that place where busyness and loud noises felt like they were even louder and it was even bigger than it used to be. I couldn't stay in those places very long.
Even a situation like that, I would imagine my container. I would put all these things in it. I would put the people in it. Sometimes I would put the sounds or the thoughts that I was having inside the container, and it would help me to be able to function. Sometimes it would just help me walk back out to my car, so that I wasn't breaking down in this public place. Other times, it helped me that I could actually finish what I was doing, and then return to my car. Whatever it is for you, this container really is a good visual to have when you're going through hard things.
It also helps you so you can start your new goals. If your new goals are to remember who you are, and build some self worth, take care of the wounds that have been inflicted on you, because of abuse, or neglect, or addiction, whatever those things may be; having that container to remove everything and then start bringing things back in, will be helpful. Now when we go back to the comments from the narc abuse coach that I read at the beginning, a lot of us have been in those situations where we were married or are married to someone with narcissistic tendencies or actually have been diagnosed with that.
In my situation, mine was more of covert narcissism. It was kind of behind the scenes. He's friendly and fun and nice and manages a job and is successful. And then on the other side, the lies the manipulation, the deceit, the blame shifting, the pretending and acting as if things are my fault, the mocking and laughing in my face, those things I've talked about, about my inspirations are off and things like if I call him a liar one more time. Things like that, where the lies of professing innocence are blatant. And they are abusive, that mixing up your reality trying to change what my reality actually was. Which is gaslighting also falls into those categories of narcissistic behaviors, and abuse.
So those were the way mine were. Nobody else can really see it except me. That makes it difficult. That makes it hard when people around you will say stuff like, oh, but he was such a nice person. And he's so he's so great. He was just so great to me, I had no idea. And you're thinking, Well, yeah, that is true. However, there's another side that you're not seeing. And it devalues your experience, and it is harmful to the person that is being abused, to know how to change what's happening, or to tell somebody or to even get out. Because of all those fears of who's gonna believe me. And everybody loves him so much or her so much. And this is just so hard. And maybe it is me.
That's the other thing is you've been told so many times, that you're the one that's wrong, that you sometimes have a hard time trusting yourself. So the importance of gaining who you are back and your self worth, and figuring out how to stand on your own two feet and be like, Hey, wait a second. No, I'm all of these things. I challenge you to make the list like I did, about who you were before you knew about any of these things, who you were. And if you were in abusive relationships before, if you grew up in a family of abuse, you still probably have some positive things and things that you thought about yourself. And if they are negative, put those as well. Who were you before?
What are the things that if you truly looked inside you, who were you before. Write all the damage that's been done. And then right who you are now. You could also if you're just getting started, and who you are now is still kind of in the thick of it, and in all the rubble and it's looking like I'm broken and I'm weak and I'm tired. And I'm stressed and I am not a good mom right now and I am not a good friend. If it's all of those things. That's okay to make yourself also the next list and have the next list be what would I wish to believe about myself?
What do I want to see for myself? What am I hopeful that I can become? Make that list so that you have that list to hold on to and that you can look at that list saying okay, the reason I'm doing this work right now, the reason I'm gonna go through these hard, painful feelings to heal is so that I can feel free like that list. It's an important list. As you figure out what your list is, you can then look and see where your insecurities are. What is it that you need to be looking inside to find your self worth? I did a podcast with a friend It was her podcast. I was a guest on it.
Her name is Christine Baird and her podcast is the worthful project. It's amazing. It's all about your worth. And her whole concept is your worth has never been gone, you've always had your worth. No matter what you've been through what you've done, who you've hurt, who's hurt you, your worth stays intact. I suggest that you go find her on your podcast forum and look her up. You can go find our podcast as well, if you want to listen to what we talked about. I think it was about November that I was on it with her. I can't remember exactly. But a lot of her things, you can look up all of her different subjects, and you can maybe see and gain some clarity on your own self worth.
Gaining your self worth back and remembering who you are, and who's you are, will be kind of the catalyst for the rest of your healing. It's going to give you that push and that desire and that drive and fill your heart with love for yourself and for God and for the desire to work hard. You'll be excited to work hard, because you'll be like, Wait a second, I'm worth it. I know I'm worth it, I feel it, I feel it in my insights. And you might not be there yet. And that's okay. Because you've been through a lot you've been through so much. And what you've been through needs to be felt and heard and seen. It needs to be validated. And you need to be assured that what you have went through did happen, and you're loved and cared for.
There are people who are concerned for you, and they're showing love and empathy. And then they're going to show you how to reach this new level of healing. And you can do that with a counselor. You can do that with an energy worker. You can do that by making these lists and taking these lists to a counselor so they can show you the truth about who you are, and how to get there. If you haven't ever made a list, if you haven't ever used a container, if you've been trying to manage and deal with all of the different feelings and emotions that come over you, now's a good time to start.
In my book, Cutting Ties if you're needing some help, I wrote that book when I was in all the different chaos times. I wrote it as if it is my journal. I shared everything that I was in, how I did it, what I felt. And you'll watch as you read it, how I start out with the pain, the anger, the sadness, the resentment, the experience of, I can't even believe this, this is what happened. And you'll watch how I learned and grew and came out of it. And then the awareness that I had by the end. And that can offer the same thing to you. If you're feeling like I kind of need help navigating through these experiences, and seeing my self worth and using the container. All of it's in there.
It could definitely be helpful for you. There are so many great resources out there. If you are a woman and you are suffering from betrayal trauma, you can look up the Worth group, and they have a women's group and it is free for a period of time. And they have groups and webinars and it's led by therapists and other people, other mentors that work for them, that help you and guide you and meet other people that are going through the same thing as you. In order to even achieve any of this, you're going to have to choose in to doing this work.
You're going to have to choose into making the list to learn how to use a container, choose into counseling, and whatever kind of therapy that you are in need of and come to an acceptance that really this is your life. You can't keep saying over and over like I was doing. I can't believe this is my life. I cannot believe it. I mean, we can say it. But do we want to stay in that crazy life where we're just panicked and sad? Or do we want to say I can't believe this is my life and turn it into something good? I can now say I can't believe this is my life. And it means something positive.
I cannot believe God carried me from where I was to where I am now. I can't believe how happiness fills my heart and soul. I cannot believe that I get to help other people along this journey. It is pure joy. Now in saying that, that doesn't mean that I don't have traumas or triggers or down days or anxiety. I absolutely do. I still have to use a container. I still wake up sometimes with anxiety of how am I supposed to do this? What am I supposed to do? How am I supposed to help somebody? Whatever it is. But I have the tools. I know how to do it. And I believe in myself, which is completely different from where I started.
That self worth is huge. So you're going to make your list. You're going to use your container. You're going to start working on your self worth and self esteem and you're going to learn how to no longer accept abuse, live in abuse, or even be abusive yourself to yourself or to other people. These things can help you in with whatever it is that you are struggling with or going through. All of it can help you heal and become peaceful and feel so much better than you do right now. If these things are hindering you, reach out, get help, do the work. Keep coming back here, and let us do this together. I'll see you next time.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai