Every adult human has them. Those voices in the back of your consciousness silently telling you of your worth. The tapes are recorded by your parents, teachers, and friends and never be erased. If you are lucky, they tell you that you are lovely, intelligent and worthy of love.
However, if you grew up in a traumatic home, those old tapes tell you things that no one should ever say to a child.
There is an epidemic of adults who have such low opinions of themselves and act out in absurd ways. So many of us are still searching desperately to fill the empty void that was left there by our caregivers.
We act just like a three-year-old child, demanding from other’s things they either cannot or will not do. When we don’t get our way, we have temper tantrums. Oh, we don’t usually get down on the floor kicking our feet, but we yell, hit, and otherwise become menaces to our family.
If we are not prone to violence but have withdrawn, we still act out on our frustration of not finding or getting what it is we think we need. We turn on ourselves by eating, drinking alcohol, cutting or other self-abusive behaviors.
Because those old tapes continue to play the same messages day and night. They spin even in our sleep, telling us we do not belong in this world, or worse, that it owes us.
I said above that those old tapes cannot be erased. This is true, but I wouldn’t be writing this piece if I hadn’t found a way to negate their influence over my life.
No, I cannot erase them, but I can replace many of them and give myself better messages.
I’m not going to say it is easy, it most definitely is not. It is a long, hard and dangerous adventure to travel down the road less traveled. It is not for the faint of heart, nor is it for the those who are not dedicated to getting control over their lives.
Psychotherapy with someone trained in trauma therapy is the only way I’ve ever found that has helped me. You see, sitting with someone week after week who shows positive regard for my welfare has made it possible for me to carry on. Paula, my Therapist who saw me through hell, gave me this and more. I always knew that Paula believed I would get well and I knew she would fight for me to stay alive and to thrive, even against myself.
In psychotherapy, guided by this powerful woman, I learned how to love, care for, and take care of me.
The old tapes had told me I was just a worthless piece of meat who could never be anyone. They told me I should never have been born in the first place, so I should take my own life to make things right.
Rewriting the Messages
Paula knew this and proceeded to rewrite what I had playing in my head.
It took many, many years to overcome the powerful messages that plagued me from my past. I almost died three times because it was so hard to change the memorandums left for me to draw upon as an adult by my parents and teachers. The pain was almost unbearable sometimes, but the alternative was to die young without being allowed to reach my full potential.
In my life, the buck has stopped here. I will not allow myself to implant disastrous and evil tapes in the minds of others. I know how much harm those things can do, and frankly, I am hoping to start an awareness among those who have or are planning to have children. If we are to turn the tide on the ugly and childish behavior in the world today, we need to start with ourselves and branch out to our children and then other adults.
It is my firm belief that we do not act if we sit idly by and allow those old tapes to rule us, humanity is doomed to annihilate itself.
Oh, you may be saying to yourself, another doomsday prophet. No, not really.
We DO have options, and the first step is to rewrite our own tapes. We must work hard to replace the messages stored on those old tapes with positive and powerful ones that can change us forever for the better. Below are just a few examples of what we should be saying to ourselves every day.
I feel the love of those who are not physically
I take pleasure in my own solitude.
I am too big a gift to this world to feel self-pity.
love and approve of myself.
I focus on breathing and grounding myself.
Following my intuition and my heart keeps me safe and sound.
I make the right choices every time.
I draw from my inner strength and light.
I trust myself
I am a unique child of this world.
I have as much brightness to offer the world as the next person.
I matter and what I have to offer this world also matters.
I may be one in 7 billion, but I am also one in 7 billion.
To finish this feel-good section, I’m including a few quotes to read to help remind yourself how powerful you are and what happens in your life is up to the choices you make.
“If you look at what you have in life, you’ll always have more. If you look at what you don’t have in life, you’ll never have enough.” Oprah Winfrey
“With everything that has happened to you, you can either feel sorry for yourself or treat what has happened as a gift. Everything is either an opportunity to grow or an obstacle to keep you from growing. You get to choose.” – Dr. Wayne W Dyer
Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” Winston Churchill
“If you can dream it, then you can achieve it. You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.” Zig Ziglar
“The only place where your dream becomes impossible is in your own thinking.” Robert H. Schuller
“Believe you can, and you’re halfway there.” Theodore Roosevelt
“Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears.” Les Brown
“I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.” Stephen Covey
“If you hear a voice within you say, “you cannot paint,” then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” Vincent Van Gogh
I personally love this next one.
The entire poem is about making decisions in our lives and how we always have choices. Sometimes those choices are not what we want, and they can be painful. However, keep in mind that life is not easy, and life is not fair. That’s a fundamental fact of life that can help you get through therapy and to accept yourself as the wonderful creature you truly are.
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference. –Robert Frost
In childhood, we had no choice but to hear the voices of our caregivers putting us down and making us feel unworthy. Now, in adulthood, we have the power to choose. Will I remain imprisoned by those old tapes put in my subconscious so long ago? Or will I choose to take another path?
I include as the poem for this piece a poem that changed my life. You may have seen it before, but read it again, slowly. Ponder what Miss Portia Nelson is saying and how it pertains to you.
Getting better from a traumatic childhood with or without dissociative identity disorder is not a picnic. There are many choices to be made. Will you listen to those old tapes and choose to stay behind the bars of your own making? There is no jailer on duty and the cell door if flung open, will you decide to leave behind the comfort of your misery and go into the light of life? Or will you choose to remain there in the prison cell that no one is guarding and finally die from lack of self-care?
Survivors are faced with this choice every day. What path do you choose?