By Dr. Steve
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Healing on the
You have no idea what a poor opinion I have
of myself--and how little I deserve it.
would lay awake at night thinking about what it would be like. Thinking about life without
the nagging pain. The pain that permeated every cell of his body.
alone there in the dark. Smoking cigarette after cigarette. Dwelling on how everyone else
had wronged him. Holding onto every slight, real and imagined. Weaving a web of
explanations and excuses.
only this, if only that, played in his head all night long. It didnt make the
pain go away, but he couldnt imagine how much it would hurt without that familiar
chorus playing in his head, numbing himself to what deep down inside he knew to be the
truth, always finding some way to push it out of his mind.
he drained another beer or downed another shot, he would make plans. Plans for a better
tomorrow. Plans for a way to undo all the yesterdays of his life. Fantasy. Now that was a
game he could play.
nights that he hadnt drowned himself in cheap booze, self-pity was his drug of
choice. He would shout at the top of his lungs, cursing the fates. Cursing them for not
making him better than he was. For he never could shake the feeling of being damaged
goods. No, that feeling had haunted him his whole life.
didnt even begin to describe the feeling. Inadequate was just a quaint word to him.
Worthless, well compared to the way he felt about himself, that didnt even make a
dent in describing the relationship that he had with himself. No, you had to weave those
three words together, almost invent a new word from the three to even begin to adequately
describe the feelings he had about himself.
this was the foundation of the relationship he had with himself. Not what the world could
see. No a couple hours of sleep, a cold shower, and a little attitude, that was all he
needed to shield the depth of his true feelings from you and me.
had once read a book in which the author had used the word toxic. That would be a good
beginning at trying to describe it. That seemed most accurate when he thought about the
relationship that he had with himself. He laughed at all the cute phrases that were
floating around in our culture. Heal your inner child, learn to parent yourself, start to
nurture yourself. Oh please, give me a break, he would think to himself.
seemed to be getting worse. He wasnt able to contain it the way he used to. He
couldnt fake it anymore. As a kid, he would hide behind all the wildness, all of the
false bravado. The only thing that the bravado got him was more trouble than he could
handle. It also left him believing more than ever that he was truly damaged goods.
you asked him, I dont think he would be able to tell you that he was just plain
scared, yet if you were at all conscious you couldnt miss it.
things settled down as he got older, but he never could shake the feeling that he
didnt quite fit in. He bounced from job to job. Always feeling like an outsider,
never quite trusting that anyone would want anything to do with him.
masked that too. You see, he had become funny in a cute kind of way. So nobody thought to
look beyond the jokes, always the soft ways he would put himself down. Never inviting
anyone into his world.
more the jobs didnt work out, the more convinced he was that there was something
about him that just wasnt right. What were the words the books started throwing
around, unhealthy, dysfunctional. Yea, thats me, he figured.
but when I become healthy, then Ill show em what I can be. That was the
fantasy he retreated to more than anything else.
just have to fix me. I just have to figure out how to lose all of this.
what was all of this? Well, he never saw it as hurt. It never occurred to him that it was
the pain of wanting so badly, needing so mightily, someone to be there for him. Pain and
fear, what a combination that made, but no, it never entered his mind that thats
what this was all about.
it have been the desperation of wanting to be loved but never letting anyone in? Maybe,
but he couldnt tell you that. Dont leave out despair--the inevitable despair
of not feeling accepted, or even acceptable for that matter. It just never occurred to him
that this was all about being human.
saw it as ugly, even petty. To him it was grotesque, something that was undesirable. The
only truth it held for him was how ashamed he was of it, how he hid from it. The lump in
his throat from all of the anger, bitterness, and resentment rolled up into one ball. All
the humiliation that he inflicted upon himself, all the fear he had of somebody else
humiliating him as well. Feeling like he never quite fit the bill. A feeling of emptiness
that nothing he had tried could fill.
thing. It consumed him. It overtook his life. But not in any way that was obvious to you
or me. What overtook his life was the way he tried denying that it was there. Bending it,
twisting it, presenting it to the world in a way that would look acceptable. You would
have never guessed the depth of what he was feeling, what he was hiding.
just maybe, you would have thought to yourself, he just has to find
all along he thought something very different. No way. There was no way they were
going to pin anything on me. No one was going to discover what was buried in the depth of
my soul. This just feel your feelings crap. No it was much, much more important for
him to push it all away.
would have laughed at the idea that really this was all about being human. For being human
couldnt hurt this much. He would have shrugged his shoulders if you would have tried
to explain that his pain was really caused by his humanness being bent and distorted
by his own fears, his own discomfort with his vulnerabilities.
tried to make it go away. All those years he tried to pretend that it was never there. All
those years he tried to numb himself to the experience of being human. Jumping in and out
of relationships. Bouncing from job to job. Friends seemed to come and go, but mostly just
way he would explain it all? He would say that he was damaged. He would have never seen
that it was him doing this to him. He would have never seen that he wasnt broken.
Nothing about him was defective. Sure he was hurting, had hurt his whole life.
most of that pain was of his own making. Most of that pain was self-inflicted. Most of
that pain was born out of the relationship that he had with himself.
he never thought about his life as the experience of being human. Sadly, he never could
see that how what he believed to be the truth about himself--that he was broken and
unhealthy--was merely the means by which he expressed his discomfort with being present in
his life, experiencing all the terror thats part of being human. Sadly, he put most
of his energies into attempting to fix the problems rather than accepting the experience
of just being human.
nothing more toxic or more enriching to our emotional and spiritual well-being than the
relationship we have with ourselves. Can you can see how the regard that we have for
ourselves influences every aspect of our life?
simply, depending on the nature of the relationship we have with ourselves, we will:
people who will either honor us or tear us down
create strong connections with
the people in our life or alienate ourselves from those very people
actively create a life of
fullness and meaning, or passively maintain a life of emptiness and despair
consistently shape our life to
align with who we are, or live our lives following someone elses plan
easy to see how our self-inflicted wounds poison us. We drift further and further away
from our genuine self by investing more and more of our energy into keeping out of our
conscious awareness who we genuinely are.
life becomes dedicated to masking the presence of those parts of ourselves that we hold
judgments about. Much of our energy becomes focused on hiding from our awareness those
things we judge to be unacceptable about who we are.
with a life created by our own self-condemnation, we oftentimes add to our feelings of
self-alienation because of the powerlessness we feel about our inability to create our own
life, to follow our own choices. We so burden ourselves with the prejudices we hold
against ourselves that we lose our ability to distinguish between whats truth and
whats our own self-critical judgments.
you recognize any of these judgments?
judge ourselves to be worthless and incapable
We judge ourselves to be
powerless and ineffective
We judge ourselves to be small,
frightened creatures whore incapable of exerting any influence to change from within
those judgments, its only one small leap to making fact out of these fictions.
Fictions that are merely a reflection of our own prejudices rather than an accurate
assessment of what were capable of. Its a tricky dance because we feel so
strongly all of those things we believe to be true about ourselves. And when we feel it,
we carry those feelings to their seemingly natural conclusion, we make facts out of those
result, we lose sight of our personal capabilities. We lose sight of our power. And
ultimately, we lose sight of our path. We make our prejudices about ourselves law, and
follow those laws accordingly. We become blinded by the fear our judgments create, we
abdicate our ability to actively pursue our own journey. We become paralyzed with our own
self-doubt and needlessly walk away from our path.
you see how this flows from the damage we inflict upon ourselves? Can you see how this all
flows from the relationship weve created with ourselves based upon the judgments and
the distortions we hold about ourselves?
see, when we accept the fact that deep within ourselves were whole and complete
rather than broken and fragmented, then were much better able to sustain the effort
necessary to stay true to our path.
the bottom line is that feelings arent facts. We dont have to buy into the
lies and distortions we can be subject to when we give more power to our emotions than we
we move on, it would be worth our while to pause for a moment to think about what we are
discussing. Have you ever even considered that you have a relationship with yourself?
Whats the basis of that relationship? Is it a kind, affirming relationship? Is it a
harsh, critical relationship? Is it the kind of relationship thats clouded with
denial and rationalizations? What are the inner wounds that you need to heal?
This is the passageway to kindness and acceptance. Kindness for yourself, acceptance for
all the different pieces of the puzzle. This is where a shift needs to take place from
within you about whats within you. No one can do this for you. Only you can provide
the amount of love and understanding necessary to allow all of the different parts of whom
you are come together.
remember, out of this stage of the journey the promise for a new tomorrow will arise. A
new tomorrow thats less harsh and chaotic. A new tomorrow thats more carefree
and spontaneous. For as you heal the wounds that live within you, you will have also begun
a life thats predicated upon openness and inclusion rather than secrecy and
chemical dependency and its toxic impact on family members. Raise your
children to choose to be alcohol and other drugs
free. Learn how
to in Dr. Frischs, Psy.D. Recovery book series.