“Thank you for being you”

by Annie Kaszina on November 10, 2009

This week I've been working with a client who has done a lot of healing from an abusive relationship.  When she spoke to me this week, she was quite tearful about something her new partner had said to her.   

With her permission, I am sharing the essence her story with you, since her experience may be valuable for you also.

Here is what she said: 

"Today my lover thanked me for being me. 

He thanked me for being me. 

He didn't tell me I wasn't good enough.  He didn't reproach me for not being loving enough.  He didn't humiliate me for not being thin enough.  He didn't ridicule me for not being clever enough.   

He did not reprimand me for not measuring up to his fantasy of the woman who would validate him. 

He simply thanked me… 

For being me. 

It was his way of saying that being me was more than good enough, as far as he was concerned.  In fact, it was something that he felt was well worth celebrating. 

That was almost too overwhelming to take on board. 

I get along with myself reasonably well these days.  I know my flaws and I can co-exist with them comfortably enough.  I respect my strengths.   Most of the time I feel happy in my skin.  I laugh and smile a lot.  I am mostly positive about myself and world. 

Between me, myself and I, things are not too bad at all. 

I've done a lot of work on my own healing.  I may not be perfect, but I know I have a lot going for me. 

Still, it's hard to see myself through my lover's eyes.   

It's hard to view myself in that uncritical light.  It's hard to believe I can be a person who inspires gratitude simply by being herself…  Hard to internalize all the differences between my past and present experience…" 

We are so used to criticism, are we not?  Over the months and years, abused women internalize all the criticisms that an abusive partner, and other 'near and dear ones', visited on us. 

We come to believe that those criticisms are the truth, the ugly bedrock truth that you can never ever hide from.  Can you? 

We become so good at hearing these 'truthful' criticisms that we reach the point of not needing the external prompting of a critical partner.  We can do it all ourselves.   

We can rehearse our many faults without the slightest prompting, more or less at the drop of a hat.  We do it with as much distaste as ever our partner expressed. 

Only put us in a situation that is at all familiar and we will, singlehandedly, recite all the criticisms that were ever directed towards us.  We will list all the ways in which we fell short of our partner's idea of 'perfection' in that situation. 

Old programming exerts a powerful hold. 

It can be almost like having the old abusive partner hover close at hand, his arm raised, constantly poised to plunge his dagger into the heart of the new, functional relationship in which, by rights, he has no part.   

Sadly, we do not expunge an abusive partner from our head just because we have removed him from our life.  There is no natural limit to the shelf-life of his voice inside your head until you do the work of evicting him from there also.  

My client said: "I can be with my lover and find myself shrinking at the soundtrack in my own head.  I can find that I am beating myself up, foisting on myself all the old shame and self-loathing."   

Left to itself, the old destructive soundtrack can run in tandem with a very different reality.   

Can it only be persuasive! 

At times my client has to pinch herself, metaphorically speaking.  She has to remind herself that that was then, and this is now.   

A partner and/or other important people in your life can rejoice at the person that you are.  That is both wonderful and an enormous thing for you to take on board.   

The first thing you have to do is hear their delight in you for yourself.   

But it can never be enough to heal you.  You still have to do that for yourself.  You have to be able to give thanks, sincerely – to yourself -  for being you.   

"Yes, but…" you might say.   

Yes, but what? 

We always, always, have options.  You can wait until you feel you are good enough to give thanks for being you – and it may well be a long wait.  Not because you are not worthy – you are always worthy enough – but because you have been programmed so successfully to undervalue yourself.   

Or you can start to give thanks now. 

It's curious, is it not, how all the things that a loving partner would celebrate wholeheartedly, your energy, joy, motivation and achievement, all waned in an abusive relationship. 

Nothing fails like failure. 

When you focus on your failure, all that you will generate, or at least all that you see, is failure.  So, if you focus on waiting, it will be one long wait. 

Why not start giving thanks for being you?  Or, if that is too much of a stretch right now, start that bit smaller.  Start by imagining the time when someone says that to you and really means it.  Take the time out NOW to see what you will see, hear what you will hear, and feel what you will feel when someone that matters says that to you. 

Simply thinking about it, often, is enough to improve the relationship you have with yourself and bring that day closer.

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