At the time of this writing, I’ve just completed 3 days of total rest. The in-bed-trying-to-prevent-things-from-getting-worse kind of resting. When people around me get sick, I ramp up my efforts to stay well. I simply have too much to do to get sick. (Hear “Super Woman Syndrome” in that last statement?)
The truth is, I do have some lingering immune response weaknesses in spite of my vigilance to take care of myself in the best ways possible. And I’ve been around people with colds recently. When a little cough began Wednesday evening, I knew it was time to take myself out of commission in order to prevent the cough from establishing stable residence inside my chest. Because, for me, that can get really bad.
This time, as in times past, my bed rest successfully dissolved that tiny cough into nothingness. I’m feeling well again without ever really getting sick.
But that’s not the point of this post. During my first abusive marriage, I was told in a disdainful tone: “You take better care of yourself than anyone I know.”
Translation: When you take care of yourself you are being soooo selfish!
I noticed a long time ago – when I was in my early 20’s and married to the *brilliant* man I just quoted – that when things get silent around me, I can hear the screams of my inner demons all-the-louder. And it doesn’t matter if I know in my logical mind that if I don’t just STOP when I can feel illness coming on, I can get very ill rather than staving the illness off completely. Either way, bed rest leads to either more productivity more quickly or less productivity and a (potentially) lengthy recovery. No, this doesn’t matter at all. Because when the emotional “truths” take over, they do so with such strength that logic simply doesn’t matter any more.
So while I stayed quiet and still, I struggled to overcome the demons of my past, and their voices sounded something like this:
- “You aren’t really sick! What are you doing, trying to make excuses for being lazy?”
- “If you stay in bed for 3 days, your good and honest husband is going to think you are just a no-good depressive.”
- “Why can’t you just get up and get going like other people?”
- “Come on, just admit it. You can’t keep up! This is just you quitting!”
Get the picture?
Everyone has voices running in the background in their heads. Everyone. Period.
And, we all have the opportunity to recognize and weed-out the voices that don’t serve us.
But there is something that makes domestic abuse victims different from everyone else who has negative self-talk running in the background.
It’s this: Abusive partners learn what your negative self-talk is so that they can intentionally use it against you to keep you feeling insecure, dependent and afraid. See, abusive partners are also insecure, dependent and afraid. But instead of recognizing their responsibility to deal with insecurities on a personal level and fix their own problems, they focus instead on using what they know about making a person feel bad and combine it with personal knowledge of your insecurities to “guarantee” themselves (in their own minds) that they can keep you from leaving via abusive strategies. Often, it works.
I recognize that this post became less about my lessons learned the past 3 days and more about how domestic abuse plays on your vulnerabilities by resonating with your self-defeating inner voices. To hear the whole story about what I learned while resting, please click here.
© Tamara Bess, LMFT 2014 All Rights Reserved. Any use of this article without Tamara’s express written permission is prohibited.