For my Book Club, I have been reading Claire LaZebnik’s book, Families and Other Nonreturnable Gifts. The book has an interesting dynamic that applies to many child abuse survivors. The main character is 25 years old and has been dating the same guy since she was 15. Everyone in her family can see that this guy isn’t right for her, but she spends an enormous amount of time telling herself all of the reasons why he is right for her. As the reader, it’s obvious that they aren’t a good match, but she just keeps on working the internal propaganda.
I used to do this as a child abuse survivor. A big lie for me was that I was a virgin. My virginity was viciously taken from me by a grown man when I was just a little girl, and multiple men and women raped me after that. I dissociated all of those memories and, instead, told myself over and over again that I was a virgin. I really believed it for a long time.
As an example, my wedding had to be white, white, white to drive home that I was a virgin. My wedding color was white. My bridal bouquet was white. Even the fabric for my wedding gown was the whitest white I could find. As long as I kept telling myself a lie, I believed it. If you have to keep talking yourself into something, it probably isn’t true.
The good news is that we can use the same strategies to undo lies. I did this with my own personal mantra: “I love you. You are safe. I’m sorry.” Those were the three messages I needed to hear the most, and I didn’t believe a word of them. However, over time with repetition, I did grow to believe them.
It’s actually more effective to “brainwash” yourself with the truth instead of a lie because the truth ultimately wins. It gets back to the feed the right wolf concept. You can talk yourself into the truth in the same way you talk yourself into a lie, only the truth will set you free rather than keep you in bondage like a lie does. I know because I have done it successfully. It’s a challenge, and you feel like a fraud starting out, but mantras really do work!
Photo credit: Amazon.com