I have decided to join a 30 day writing challenge. Writing is so cathartic, so healing, and such a big piece of my healing tool-kit that a writing challenge makes sense – so hear we go!
Day 3 Prompt: a four-part exercise about perceptions of self
A Serious Case of Avoidance
This prompted writing exercise arrived in my inbox 7 hours ago and I have been actively avoiding it. I’m not sure if it is coincidence or irony that this is the prompt I face today after my morning journaling, IG post, and recent push to achieve therapy goals.
Let me explain …
Recently my therapy goals have transitioned from sweeping concepts into the finer details of healing now that I have a solid foundational understanding of PTSD and what healing is about.
One of those goals is to embrace my authentic self and to get out of my own professional way. Yesterday I did that by sharing with my Instagram following the option to support me and my work financially.
An ask that is difficult for me because I still struggle with doubting myself. It’s insane how deep that negative belief of self is.
However, irony and coincidence aside – this writing challenge is fitting and well timed.
Pt. 1: How Do I See Myself – Physically & Mentally
This is going to be difficult to write, and not so pretty to read.
I know how I should see myself, but I know that deep down I don’t. I don’t like my physical body, I want to be smaller. I feel like my mental health and childhood of abuse has wreaked havoc on my life and it will never get better. I wish I were more productive, better at time management, and more discipled with my own work schedule.
I wish I had more energy for my children and family, and I feel guilty that I am not doing more to make that happened. I wish I could figure out a better way to balance my life.
But It Isn’t All Bad
I also see my family and how my children are amazing pieces of me walking the earth and making their own way. I know that I am getting stronger, more self-compassionate, and more open to who I am and what I want.
I see that I have drive and passion. I see that I am a survivor and I will not give up.
Pt. 2: How Do My Loved Ones See Me
My husband and my closest survivor friends are my biggest cheerleaders. They see a woman who has grown from a childhood that no one should ever have to experience. They see the pain that I carry with grace and self-love. They see how I grieve and how I embrace happiness. The know I will give everything I have to help others.
They don’t see my size, my wrinkles, or my gray hairs – not the way that I do.
My husband tells me often that he sees a woman who is worthy of a healthy, safe, and happy life. He wants me to achieve my dreams and heal my soul. He sees in my the life-partner he has always wanted. I try so hard to see myself through his eyes, and I often recite things he has said when I am feeling my lowest as a reminder of what he sees.
Pt 3: How Do Strangers See Me
This one is hard to write because it feels boastful, but I actually have quite a lot of experience to share regarding this perspective.
As an online content creator, I share my story of complex PTSD openily and candidly. I connect with a lot of survivors in comments and in DMs. I receive emails, and I meet many of you in person on my LIVE Instagram series or in the peer groups I facilitate.
Nearly every day many of you counter my negative beliefs of self with an abundance of evidence to show me that my thoughts are not facts.
Strangers tell me I am genuine, authentic, and needed online for others living with complex childhood trauma.
Strangers tell me I am kind, brave, strong, and inspiring – all facts that counter everything I was led to believe as a child by my father and still struggle to believe when good things happen to me.
Strangers tell me to keep doing what I am doing because it is clear that I am on the right path.
Why is it so difficult for me to believe all of this fully?
Pt. 4: My Real Self
So who is my real self?
All of it – I am all of these perceptions right now.
I know that I am not all the negative things that I often think but I still think them. I work very hard every day to mindfully manage my thoughts until it becomes second nature – but it is taking time.
I know that I am more than all the bad things that have happened to me.
I know I am the person my husband sees, I am the person that strangers see, I am the person that I see.
I am sensitive and a little bit insecure, I am fiery and passionate, I am occasionally over the top and intensely emotional, I am empathetic to the worldwide collective, and I struggle with boundaries. I am caring, I have a natural ability to hold space for other’s pain, and I am vulnerable and authentic. I crave safety and so I promise to always provide it.
I am a wounded healer through and through.
I guess that wasn’t as hard as I thought – in fact I am a little bit surprised at what came of it. I hope you will journey with me the next 30 days, who knows what I will be writing about next!
To learn more about this writing challenge visit Rachel Havekost on Instagram and there is a link in her bio to the Writing to Heal: 30-day Writing Challenge
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