A Journey from Victim to Survivor…to Living Freely

Objects in Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear

on October 10, 2015

Looking back, especially these last 3 years, has often meant untangling bits and pieces and chunks of trauma.  There is certainly enough there to “look back” on.  To do the trauma work, to figure out the hows and whys and ways that childhood trauma shaped me, to battle the flashes, flashbacks and nightmares…I had to look back…Yet, this morning, as I talked with a friend, I looked back in a different way…more in a “Objects in Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear” way…And, I have chills as I type this…and tears beginning to peek in the corners of my eyes.

Something I don’t often give myself is a pat on the back…I don’t naturally tell myself “good job” and become uncomfortable, although accepting, if others provide that feedback.  I’ve worked to recognize when it’s okay (or good??) to tell myself “You should be proud of yourself!” (or, maybe with a (.) and not a (!) ;)…see, I’m working on it!!).  I know now that this stems from an internal voice that belonged to my mother and became mine–“Who do you think you are???”, “OOOOOHHH…look at who’s so high and mighty!”, “You think no one else has done that??”, “It would’ve been better if you hit that note in the 3rd verse.”, “Must be hard not to fall from that pedestal you’ve put yourself on.”, “You think you’re better than everyone else????  I can tell you…You are NOT!”

That voice was my inner voice…until I began to challenge it–first with kind, compassionate words from my pastor (who would also challenge me and say “I think I know where that berating is coming from…and it’s not from you.”), then in support, encouragement and skills use from my psychologist (who told me once “I really don’t like it when you talk so negatively about someone I care about”…only to realize he meant me).  I began to shift with DBT skills and fell hard for “What would you tell a friend?”…all of the sudden, I realized that never, ever, not even then! would I speak to a friend that way…I wouldn’t even THINK about them in that way.  And, I kept working at changing my inner voice…moving away from the negativity, berating and ridiculing and replacing those thoughts with kind, compassionate ones.  I’d have to run it by people…my closest friends, my pastor, my psychologist, the DBT group to check in.  It took time and practice to get to a point where, much of the time, I could recognize if I was treating myself negatively–then work at shifting my perception of myself.  An image that has stuck with me is for Liz Gilbert’s “Eat, Pray, Love”…she talks about making her mind a safe harbor…where negative self talk is stopped before entering the harbor and only kindness and compassion can float through.

It was in the conversation with my friend, however, that I really started to think about how I’ve changed since taking that terrifying leap into a world where I said “I think I need help.”  And really…it was terror…so much fear, so much anxiety, so much unknown.

Three and a half years of healing…years of finding my true self, my real smile, laughter that came from my soul, a kind inner voice, progress not perfection, the ability to feel-actually feel-emotion, learning self-care, knowing what it feels like to take deep breaths, to nourish my body, mind and spirit. ❤  I am so grateful…I entered treatment terrified of what I thought I’d lose…and I never dreamed of finding me.

You can do it.  There are those who have come before you, will travel with you and will follow behind you.  Healing is possible. ❤


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