I think that agreeing to honor the experience and emotions of my inner child–to believe the girl about her abuse and its impact on her–has been one of the most healing decisions I have made in my life. It’s right up there with leaving my first husband. Living with him kept me exhausted, running a race with an ever-changing finish line. Letting Doubt dominate my approach to processing fragmented memories of abuse prevented Empathy from playing the role I needed her to fulfill.
So where am I now, 39 days into my Believe the Girl Project? I thought I would run through a little self-assessment.
Suicidal thinking. Gone. Phew.
Self-harm. I feel the urge sometimes but haven’t done it in several months. I’m not quite ready to say I’ll give it up forever, because there are times when it has felt like the only thing that helps. But I’m willing to say I will try a range of coping strategies before I go back to this.
Negative voice in my head. It’s still there, though not as noisy as it used to be. It popped up again this morning: “I’m a bad person.” But I recognized it and told myself, “That’s just an old thinking pattern that’s stuck in my head. It isn’t accurate.” I imagine I will still have to work on this for a while yet.
Violent, intrusive images. I haven’t been having these for the past month or so either, another relief.
Disbelieving my own experience. Doubt still calls me up from her vacation, but I don’t let her talk for very long.
Getting out of bed in the morning. This is still a bit hard because my energy level remains low.
Missing work. There have been a couple of days when I have not worked a full day. Partly that is because a full day for me is at least 12 hours. I really like my job, but it is too demanding. I know I can’t sustain this pace, and it’s impeding my healing. A few days ago I started playing with the idea of requesting an extended leave.
Canceling or avoiding social engagements. I am still doing this. I skipped out on a party I think I would have enjoyed last weekend because I felt too exhausted after a week at work. The last three weekends I have not left my home. It’s not about any fear of interacting with people. It’s just another reflection of how deeply, profoundly exhausted I am.
What I see right now as my biggest obstacle is my job. Giving my job what it demands doesn’t protect enough time or energy for me. But I get a lot from my job–identity, intellectual stimulation, a decent income, interesting colleagues, respect, opportunity to make a difference. I can’t really imagine leaving (not to mention I am the sole breadwinner in my household and too young to retire). But lately (last 4+ months), I find it difficult to get up in the morning and get to work. That’s why I am toying with the idea of an extended leave, wondering if that is enough to soothe my over-activated nervous system and make more progress in my healing.