by Grant Porteous, LMSW
“How does it feel,” I ask her, “now that your coping skills are holding up – you seem to be feeling better, more in control.”
“Like something’s gonna’ crash,” comes the immediate answer.
She goes on to explain that things always go wrong, something always happens that messes things up, and while her faith assures her that she’s loved and that God is good…” She hesitates. But? “But it doesn’t apply to me.”
“But it doesn’t apply to me.” She’s already come a long way, working hard to unpack significant wounds in her past and put them in perspective. And this work has begun to help her examine what she’s believed about herself most of her life; and she’s starting to see her true value as a human being.
“Oh, I know God loves me,” she answers correctly. “Yes, I know He’s good.” She’s two for two so far, and then, here it comes: “But it doesn’t apply to me because I’m not good enough.” But… it’s such a small word, yet so completely able to ‘kill, steal, and destroy’ even the best intentions of the heart simply by erasing everything that comes after it.
“You don’t feel good enough.” I want to reframe her statement to help her get out of her head where the idea seems to be true, and instead frame it as a feeling so we can more easily challenge it.
“Right. I just know I’m not good enough and, until I am, good things don’t apply to me.” The idea that she isn’t good enough is true, she believes, because when things are going good, something bad always seems to happen, and when it does it feels like she’s being punished. It only makes sense, she explains, because only bad people get punished, right? Except now, the ‘punisher’ is God.
Part of the problem is that this woman – like a lot of us – keeps herself stuck by how she talks to herself. What she doesn’t yet see is how out of habit her self-talk – that tape that plays in our heads all the time – reinforces the lie and her distorted self-image. She has things backwards, right down to the language she uses with herself – and it effectively keeps her stuck, playing the same lie over and over. In other words, she’s got her but in the wrong place.
So, what did she do to help herself begin to break the hold this particular lie had on her? We’ll have to finish this story next time.