I keep thinking I’m doing all of the work needed to improve who I am, but then one trigger can set me off and I’m brought back to the realization that I still have some ways to go. One thing that I thought I could brush over and never have to worry about was letting go of my past hurts. I was holding on to these, unintentionally, to protect myself from feeling that pain again. I’m learning that to let go, really let go, I have got to allow myself to feel the pain of each experience and reword it in my mind as a positive. That has helped me change my automatic thoughts into a positive thought.
I take what triggered me, for easy example: I made a mistake at work. My automatic thought would go straight to “I’m going to be fired. I always mess up. I’m no good at this job.” and I would SPIRAL. My new process is replace those negative thoughts, with rational new thoughts that can improve my whole mood: “I messed up, but mistakes happen. I will work through this, like I always do.”
I had to look at my past with a toxic marriage and do this same retraining to start really letting go. For the last few years that I’ve been separated I was minimizing my experiences to avoid all the pain I went though while with my ex. Tolerating a physically and mentally abusive narcissistic man for years because I had this drive that it will work if I just did more. Loved him more, took care of him more, looked better, was more fun, allowed him out more. It was always something that I was blamed for when reality was, he just wasn’t a good person. I thought by finally leaving the relationship I was going to be better but while it helped, I was still mentally trapped. I thought if I talked trash about him it would make me feel better but it really just brought me down to his level and I was still mentally trapped. I thought if I dated I’d feel better but since I was still mentally trapped, I was dating men who were similar to my ex. If I didn’t talk about him at all, or if I tried to peacefully coparent, but then I wasn’t acknowledging I was hurt.
So today I let go and let God help me heal my pain. I acknowledge what I went through. I’ve cried over the loss of my dream of keeping my family together. I’ve cried over the pain I felt, physically and mostly the mental pain and loss of trust. After I let those tears go I acknowledge that I am still standing and I’m stronger than before knowing what I have overcome and nothing can bring me down. I am responsible for my own happiness. You can add to it, but nothing can bring me down. This is one of my mantras I repeat daily to retrain my mind. I know I’ve still got a long way to go but I’m grateful to be where I am in this moment.
Rosadela Durruthy is founder of She’s Got Lupus, a non profit organization aimed to improve the lives of those living with chronic illnesses by advocating for mental health, healthy living and raising awareness.