“There are days when I believe I’m permanently damaged. To my very core. And then…there’re days that I think that other people have it far worse than me and I should just get over it,” my client said, as we began her journey of healing.
“We can all say that there are others far worse off than we are, and I appreciate that,” I responded and continued with my affirmation.
“All of those far worse off than you certainly deserve healing…but so do you! Let’s wish the best for them and begin the healing that you desperately deserve and rightfully need!”
I know what it’s like to feel so broken that you believe you couldn’t possibly be fixed. Only to have a few good days and think that you’re just being a whiner.
I’m sure you can relate to that as well.
Let me assure you that you are not just a whiner. Whether it’s damage or trauma that you have experienced as the result of loving someone with swinging moods that feel like a wrecking ball…healing is in order.
That’s why I’m writing this series. Especially for you!
As I said earlier in the series, there’s so much empathy, information, and resources for the one with swinging moods. But those on the other side of the wrecking ball are often left baffled, damaged, confused, traumatized … and all too often feeling crazy and hopeless.
I am here because I know this beyond any shadow of any doubt…you are not crazy…and there is hope.
This week we will be looking at the healing process for situations where you have been damaged. Hopefully this process will be adequate for you and your healing.
Even if you have been traumatized, it will most definitely help start your healing too!
But if you feel like you need more healing, we will be looking at healing from the trauma next week.
If you missed the assessment for whether you are dealing with damage or trauma, you may click here to find that information: https://bit.ly/DiggingOutFromWreckage
No matter how crazy, hopeless, or distraught you may feel … Healing is available for you, my friend! Let’s do this!
1. Tell yourself the truth, tell some trusted person the truth, and get support.
The first part of your healing may feel somewhat counterintuitive.
“So, you want me to talk about what’s happened? Won’t that make my healing harder?” my client asked curiously.
I understood completely, because when we’ve been the target of the wrecking ball, we just want to do our best to forget what’s happening. Or what’s happened. Until we can’t.
So yes, unfortunately, it is imperative that we get a clear understanding of what you’ve experienced.
If we don’t tell ourselves the truth about what happened, and how it’s affected and damaged us, and possibly traumatized us, it’s easy to just read about the healing process and never fully engage in it.
I don’t want that for you. I truly desire for you to experience deep healing!
Here is the worksheet that I often use with my clients to help them in this process. Click here to get the worksheet: https://dr-neecie.mykajabi.com/HealingDamageWorksheet
The first column is a brief description of what happened, the second column is how it felt. The third column is the ongoing result (or consequence of being wrecked). Ignore the 4th column until you get to step #2 below).
Now we are not doing this to make ourselves victims. As a matter fact, at the end of the exercise, I encourage people to do something symbolic to destroy the worksheet…as if destroying the effects it has had.
Because I normally get clients started on the exercise in my office, I asked my client if she could identify an event (or patterns of events) that she believes has damaged her.
“It’s the constant challenging me. Which is what makes me feel crazy and want to just die!” my client responded.
“Can you give me an idea of what that looks like?” I asked.
After a pause, with a distressed expression on her face, she began as tears formed in her eyes:
“Always challenging me. Saying things like:
- ‘I just don’t understand.’ While huffing, puffing, rolling his eyes, and interrupting, as I try to make it clearer.
- ‘I never said that.’ Which I know he did because I now record every conversation because of how much the truth gets twisted. (Yes, it’s common because we have to make sure we aren’t insane).
- ‘Is that what really happened, or is it your twisted interpretation?’ While mocking me.
- ‘When do I ever get to be heard?’ When I have said three sentences after him droning on and on and on…”
I nodded, “So I guess there’s mocking, gaslighting, and challenging your reality in all of that?”
She confirmed with a nod, as tears began to stream down her face.
“The next column is about your feelings,” I explained. “When these kinds of things occur, can you tell me how you feel?”
Her face fell into her hands with some sobs, as she painfully choked out the words: “Crazy. Stupid. Like a dog at a table. Begging for crumbs. Disregarded. Cheap. Unloved.”
I leaned forward and gently touched her arm as I said with deep empathy, “I am so sorry. I hear you. I believe you.”
I wasn’t surprised when the sobs intensified. Because when you’ve been on the other side of the wrecking ball, you long for someone to understand, for someone to validate, for someone to care.
After a moment of being with her in her suffering, I inquired: “What do you think the long-term consequences of this have been?”
She drew in a deep breath to center herself, and with a broken voice, and a quivering chin, she began: “I’ve lost all my self-confidence. My self-esteem is nonexistent. I literally feel lower than a dog. I feel ashamed of who I am. I guess he has finally convinced me I’m unlovable.”
The deep sobs were heart breaking.
With sincere concern, I leaned toward her, and I said, “No one has the right to convince you of that! And we must reverse it!”
I reminded her of one of Brene’ Brown’s most famous quotes: “Everyone has a right to belong and to feel loved.”
In a voice that sounded like a little girl begging, her words moved me: “Please help me! Please, please help me!” I took her hand and assured her that together we could find the healing that she was so desperate for.
We can do the same for you, my friend.
Take the worksheet, take some time, and begin to write about what’s happened to you.
I know it’s painful, and sometimes daunting. And you will likely find yourself at moments…thinking it’s your fault. Breathe through all of that and write your truth.
As Dr. Mya Angelou said, “When someone shows you who they are the first time, believe them.” We’ve all done it.
But it’s you this time who saw and ignored and now you reap. So, dig deep and find your present truth and we will build upon that to become the genuine truth that guarantees freedom!
When you have completed that, find a trusted person to share it with. Someone who will affirm and validate you. And hold your information confidential.
(Note: I know you’re more mature than this, but don’t allow anyone to convince you to do your life on social media. When you are healed, you may find some things you’ve experienced to be helpful for others. But at this time, find one to three people who can be trusted with your heart, your feelings, and your experience).
Reach out for the support you need and deserve.
2. Remind yourself who you are and proclaim it!
“I have no idea who I am. When I met him, I was strong, confident, vivacious, passionate about life, full of fun, laughter, peace, and joy. Now I guess I’m just a pain in his *ss!?”
When you’ve been on the other side of the wrecking ball of swinging moods, you may hear hurtful things, witness hurtful behavior, and lose your sense of self.
It’s not the kind of wreckage that goes away with a simple prayer, although I do believe God is near to the brokenhearted.
It’s not the kind of wreckage that you get a good night’s sleep and wake up refreshed from.
It’s not the kind of damage that just disappears.
One of the main reasons for that is that after the devastation of the wrecking ball, we forget who we are.
Why? Maybe because we’re always trying to repair a moment. Fixing and repairing what can’t be fixed and repaired. You see, trying to fix chaos and confusion is like re-directing an autumn breeze and catching all the leaves that go with it.
Although during the periods of the time that they are stable, they say very kind and loving things…the intensity of the verbal, emotional, and mental trauma remains with us long after they have stabilized.
It’s the intensity, and the unpredictability that steals our view and beliefs about who we once were.
“But I’m afraid I didn’t just forget,” my client said, as tears poured, “I’m afraid it’s gone. All the good in me is gone. I don’t blame him for the things he says anymore…because I’ve become everything he has told me I am.”
I’ve seen this kind of “too broken” too often. I looked into her heart and spoke: “Who you are is still there. No one has the right to define you. But the debris from the swinging wrecking ball buries it so deeply that we cannot even see any semblance of it. But I can promise you … it is still there!”
I asked my client, “You said a few things about who you were before you met him. But can you dig deep, and tell me things that describe what is buried beneath the wreckage?”
I am asking you the same question. If you have a difficult time remembering, go back to the 4th column on the worksheet. See what the consequences have been, and tell the truth about what really happened and about who you really are.
If you need more help, ask a few trusted people who would tell you the truth about your amazing qualities, your character, and your gifts.
I gave that assignment to my client because she struggled to answer it about herself. She chose to speak with a sibling, a longtime colleague, and a friend from her Bible study.
She asked them the question that I assigned: “What are some of my amazing qualities, great character traits, and what are my gifts?”
(She also informed me that she told them that she would never ask for these things, but she was paying a lot of money for this healing process, and she wanted to come back with good answers! You are welcome to do the same. Tell them you are working through some healingwork sheets, and this was one of the assignments!)
Here are some of the responses she came back with:
- You are a great listener.
- You are so compassionate.
- You are loyal, no matter what.
- You are very thoughtful.
- You can always be counted on.
Great character traits:
- You are a person of admirable integrity.
- You do not speak poorly of others.
- You are very forgiving and forbearing.
- You serve those around you.
- You can be trusted.
- You see the best in others.
- You are a great encourager.
- You bring calm to all situations.
- You are wise and give great counsel and feedback.
- You make everyone feel loved and unique.
I then had her read the list aloud in first person. I fed her each line:
“I make everyone feel loved and unique.”
“I am very forgiving and forbearing.”
“I am loyal, no matter what.”
At first, she labored to speak each sentence aloud. As I would read them out to her, they would take her breath away. But I waited until she repeated each line.
I want you to do the same. And promise me this…do it in front of the mirror, at least twice daily. In the morning, and in the evening. She committed to doing so but knew it would be hard.
You may feel a lot like my client felt, “If he catches me doing this, he’ll mock me and shame me to my core!”
I nodded with compassion and understanding. I informed her: “You must do it aloud, because the back primitive part of your brain only hears and believes your voice. If you need to, go into the bathroom with a small mirror and whisper it…just do it!”
I encourage you to do the same my friend. Don’t let anyone stop you! And do it for at least a week. But it would be perfect if you could do it for about six weeks.
(A note…Research shows us, that it will begin to rewire your brain after about six weeks. Your brain will actually know it’s true! And your brain will work diligently to show you ways to see and believe it is! This is not hocus pocus but researched recorded science data. You deserve that, and I know that you desperately need it.)
It may be difficult when you begin, but at some point, you will reach your tipping point! And not only will you believe, but new life will begin to spring forth and rise inside of you.
3. Grieve what’s been lost … and dance!
Grief is an important process. Before Dr. Virginia Satir passed away, I was able to interview her about grief and the healing process. She says that grief involves many stages, and we all cycle through them randomly multiples of times:
And then healing.
I think it’s important to make a list of what’s been lost. As I began this part of the process with my client, she said: “It would be easier for me to tell you what I have not lost.”
That’s not an uncommon thing for me to hear. And I know it’s likely true for you too.
But acknowledging what you’ve lost so you can grieve it…opens the door to heal from things that you need to let go of and breathe new life into things that need to rise again.
Wrong choices are not self-condemning verdicts, but starting points for finding new hope. New purpose. New vision. A brand-new path! As someone has said, “What a place to be when everyone who truly loves you … knows everything about you. There’s no more hiding because there is no place to hide that’s safe anymore … which means you are safe in telling the truth!”
She began the process of listing what she’d lost:
- My marriage (yes, we’re still together, but there’s no marriage).
- My self-confidence.
- The joy of being alive.
- My dreams.
- Financial stability.
- The list went on.
Evaluate what you’ve lost. Yes, at moments you’ll be angry. But this is not to stir up the anger, this is to acknowledge the truth about what’s been lost.
I then had her commit to looking at the list over the next week, and just allowing herself to feel whatever feelings came up. I assured her she would have every feeling that Dr. Virginia Satir listed as part of the grieving process, and likely many more.
Don’t allow yourself more than 15 minutes with it, but at least give yourself 10 minutes.
After you’ve spent your 10 or 15 minutes in grief, turn on music (even if in your headphones) and dance. The only requirement is that it is music you enjoy, and it’s uplifting or inspiring. (Not a good time to listen to BJ Thomas’ “Somebody done somebody wrong” song!)
Some people enjoy hip-hop music, others country, others worship music. It’s not important what the music is it’s important that you get up, move your body, and dance.
Like my client, you may think: “I’m not a dancer, I don’t know how to dance.”
We aren’t trying to prepare you for a dance recital. Research has shown that dancing in some sort of rhythm to music creates some of the most healing neurohormones to flow in our bodies. (Serotonin, dopamine, endorphins).
Then, oxytocin begins to flood our bodies, and great healing begins.
Some people do this for just a matter of a week or two and feel incredible healing. Do it as long as it takes. It will create healing. And you so deserve it my friend.
The damage from the wrecking ball has taken its toll, and grieving and dancing will begin an incredible healing process.
I can assure you that these things may not feel natural in any way. I understand totally.
But do it anyway! The unnatural is where faith and creation join forces to create a new truth from the old that was your truth all along.
You did nothing to earn the damage that’s been done to you, but you are responsible to initiate the healing process.
Although I hope we can invite your loved one with swinging moods into the healing process later in the series, this part is your responsibility.
There’s incredible healing and restoration when the one who has wrecked us joins us as a healing partner.
Often people ask, “Why can’t we just start there with him/her fixing what he/she broke?”
I understand totally.
But the truth is, we know from research that unless you take these first steps, you’ll likely not be able to believe or receive ‘their’ role as a healing partner.
I want to close this week by saying I know how deeply you’ve been hurt. I know there have been nights when you’ve cried alone. I know there’s been days when you could hardly function.
But refuse to stay there. Do these exercises, and healing will begin to flow!
Get determined to heal!
No matter what!
You need it!
You deserve it!
Now…it’s your time!
(As my AA friend in recovery often says … “Personal growth is about progress not perfection.
1. Do something that moves your forward every day.
2. Don’t try to figure it out.
3 Ease-up and enjoy the journey.”)
Because it’s your time to heal! I’m pulling for you, hoping for you, praying for you, and sending you lots of healing hugs!