Saturday, July 23, 2011

Counter it

I got a call on my cell phone last night at a time when I was with my whole family. Since they're the only ones who know my number, I was suspicious but I answered anyway.  I was told by an operator that there was an important message for me and to please hold while they put the party through.  Then I heard a sound I had heard before:  the "shoving off" horn of an ocean liner.  

I hung up.  It was an unwanted message trying to sell me a cruise.  First, I don't do business over the phone where I would have to give my credit card number over the phone lines, and second, water is for washing and drinking, and that is all.  Asking me to go on a cruise is kind of like asking someone with a fear of heights to go skydiving.  Hello....

I get other unwanted messages too sometimes.  Those voices, sometimes in a whisper, sometimes full-throated and nearly deafening, still nag away at me from the inside, based on messages I got and believed when I was a child.  You're not welcome here.  Get out of my face.  What you do isn't good enough.  Why can't you be more like ___?  You're weird.  You'll never amount to anything.  Nobody will ever want to spend time with you.  Those messages - some of which I never even heard verbally but picked up on through non-verbal cues - sometimes won't stop.  They were so much a part of my psyche that I thought that I was thinking those thoughts.  Then when I identified the real voices behind them, I realized that not only were they not mine, they weren't true either.  Yet I'd believed them for such a long time that I didn't know quite how to get rid of them.

Until I was told to counter the messages with other ones that were true.  You are special.  You do have something to offer.  The abuse was NOT your fault.  People can like you just the way you are.  You don't have to bend over backward just so people will spend time with you.  You can be free.  You have unique gifts and talents.  You are already important to so many people.  You do not have to accept criticism or belittlement from anyone.  You don't have to assume responsibility for the bad decisions of other people.  You can let go of the shame.  

These messages, and more, were things I had to tell myself at least once, and more like 4 or 5 times, per DAY at first.  The self I was telling these things to was not my present self but the child-self that still peeked out of the closet wondering if the angry person that was just in there beating her was still angry or if it was safe to come out.  The one who convinced herself that it was safe, only to be criticized, belittled, and mocked over and over again by people who were themselves criticized, belittled and mocked by their parents.  I was so tired of that cycle and I was very motivated to be the generation where it started stopping: to not perpetuate onto future generations the horror and the pain of never knowing what words would set off an emotional land mine.  

When I look back at the way things were before, and compare them to now, I do see a marked difference inside. Yet the condemning voice still comes to me. Frequently.  It creeps in unawares sometimes.  I still need to watch for it, to counter it with truthful affirmations, and I still need to back that up with actions that tell me that I am worth spending time on, that I do have value even if nobody sees it at the moment, that I can be free of the slough of despair, and that I can rise to beauty and victory through truth in the innermost part.

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