Recently I talked about my past struggles which included a mental breakdown, and since then people have come to me asking how I got from there to where I am now. It’s a valid question.
After all, going from a psychiatric inpatient who likes to cut herself with broken glass to a stable and thriving entrepreneur sounds like no simple task. But it actually was simple. Not always easy, but simple.
Words have forever been a passion of mine. I wrote my first poem when I was 7. The nuns in grade school would routinely punish me for bringing in books that were “too big” and “too grown-up.” One nun’s criticism of me during a parent-teacher conference was “She reads too much and daydreams.” My mother asked why these were bad things and the meeting went predictably downhill fast after that.
I grew up assuming I had an intimate understanding of words…that I respected their power and appreciated the freedom they offered. Truth was I had NO idea what the fuck I was talking about. Not the first time this has been the case and probably won’t be the last.
Only after I had the emotional breakdown and began to step onto that long and winding road to recovery did I really grasp the true impact words can have on our life.
I’d never paid attention to the words I was using on myself.
I would study Emily Dickinson’s words for hours. I poured over Virginia Woolf at night before bed. I dissected sentence structures and plot outlines of all the greats including Bradbury, Tolkien and Rand. I wrote for the school paper, entered creative writing contests and feverishly jotted down notes for my first next great American novel.
All the while, in my almost-subconscious mind, there played an infinite loop of words broken into statements intending to tell the story of who I was. These words were ignored by me, assumed to be Truth and never examined or questioned. I could not remember a time when these word weren’t there. I certainly didn’t believe I’d put them there. They simply were.
But when so many years of internal verbal abuse finally took its toll, I was forced to take an honest and deep look at those words and their meanings.
Here were some, taken directly out of my workbook during my hospitalization in 2005:
You are worthless.”
“You do not deserve to feel better.”
“You do not deserve success.”
“You are fat and ugly.”
“You can’t handle difficult problems.”
“You should be afraid all the time.”
“You should not fight back.”
“You are a failure in life.”
I was more intimately familiar with these words than any other in my life. So familiar, in fact, that they just seemed to be stating the obvious. These words could not be argued with, there was no defense. They had beaten me down and proved their truth time and time again. I had no fight left in me.
Luckily, there was no need to fight.
What I learned during that time changed my life forever. There lies a simple solution to reversing the damage these words can inflict. Its beauty is its simplicity:
I had the ability, and the right!, to change those words. I had the option, and the power!, to rewrite my story. The problem and its solution where the same. These words have immense power and can be used for healing as much as hurting.
So simple. But not always easy. As I began to work on my internal story rewrite, I discovered that I was very, VERY attached to these old hurtful words. They covered me like a warm security blanket. As long as they were true, I didn’t have to do shit.
Until the misery of not doing shit outweighed the fear of change.
Once I succumbed to this simple truth: that the words we use on ourselves are the most important words in the world, my life began to transform.
Today, I am totally free from those old stories and have written bright, shiny new ones. You can see them manifest here, on the blog and when we speak together one-on-one. There is a lightness and joy in my life that could only have come from taking the time to rewrite my story. And having the patience to quietly soothe the angry egoic fear that had been riddling my consciousness for so long.
Are there any old stories you’re holding onto like a warm blanky?
Do you have any unpleasant messages playing in your mind that you hesitate to let go of? In my experience, these tend to be the words…the ones we know are damaging but for some weird reason FEEL SO GOOD…that have the biggest impact on your life. Because these are the words you’ve really become attached to as Truth.
My dearest love, if there’s one thing my soul aches for you to know it’s that not only are those words untrue, they are complete and utter bullshit. Now, let’s get to that rewrite, shall we?