You’ve got to give it to Doubt; she’s a feisty one. Most individuals would jump for joy if you told them to spend another month at the beach. But not Doubt. She gets indignant and noisy.
“You think you can just ship me off and ignore me? You think you don’t have to listen to me? I am rationality. I am the advocate for empirical proof. I keep you from going all crazy-New-Age-spiritual. You are not just kicking me out of your life so you can traipse around in fantasy land with your ‘believe the girl’ project.”
In late June, (30 days ago) I had what was probably my 1000th therapy session with E. I was about as stuck as you can be and wondering whether I should just give up on trying to get better through therapy. E. told me pretty directly that I wasn’t going to get better as long as I allowed my doubt about fuzzy memories from the past to dominate my thinking. I was essentially telling the little girl, the child who had experienced sexual abuse, that she was a liar. How could she possibly get better in the face of that disbelief? E. challenged me to set aside a period of time in which I would commit to believing the girl and just seeing where that would take me. She said committing to a fixed period of time would keep me from having to decide every day whether I would choose to believe or not. I decided to try it, started the next day (29 days ago). I sent Doubt off on vacation.
This past month has been tremendously healing for me. It’s been intense but not nearly as painful as allowing Doubt to run the show. By writing about it every day, I’ve been able to reinforce the idea that I believe the girl, she did experience sexual abuse, and she and I can heal from her terrible experiences. Doubt has been (mostly) agreeable and kept her distance during this time.
But after I posted my decision last night to extend my commitment to believing the girl for another month, she stormed back in. Even shortly after my midnight post last night, I started to hear her. And today I kept thinking, “another month is too long,” and “I can’t really keep on believing this every day. It can’t really be true. If it were true, someone in my family somewhere along the way would have acknowledged it.”
Hm, sudden aha moment. I am going to visit my family in two weeks. My dad will be there. I have never allowed myself to believe the girl and be around him at the same time. I have no idea how to navigate having him and the girl in the same room. Just the thought of it is scary.
Maybe Doubt is not really my enemy, at least not my deliberate enemy. She is a coping mechanism who has worked hard to help me out of scary situations. Maybe her noisiness is about this upcoming visit. Doubt gives me a way to be with my father as a hyper-rational, almost emotionless adult. The problem is that in her effort to make things work for me, she chases the little girl away, which leads to different kinds of problems.
Yikes, I don’t know how I am going to manage this upcoming family visit.