Breaking Up is the Hardest Part
“I would have dumped you if you ever said that to me.” Those were the exact words I said when asked, “what would you have done if I ever said to you the things you say to yourself?” My response echoed in my head as my Husband continued to prove his point.
“I would have dumped him,” I thought. “If he said any of the things I say to myself, I would have dumped him”. It was the next question I asked myself that felt like a personal breakthrough. “If I would have ended the relationship with him for treating me like this, why do I allow myself to treat me like this? Why do I allow these thoughts to play on repeat, and believe them like an absolute? I would never say these things to a friend and I would not allow them to be said to me. So, why, why do I treat myself worse than any other relationship I hold dear?
Ouch. That one hurt. It was a breakthrough as I’d never taken a look at it that way, but it never feels good to know that the most painful relationship I really have… is with myself. Or, more accurately, with my inner critic. She’s a real B**** sometimes. Most of the time. Basically, that’s all she ever is. She likes to convince me that I’m not good enough to share these words, that I have to hustle to be loved by a new family, that my typical diet needs to change for a plethora of reasons, that my husband would be happier if…, and on and on and on. She likes to pick away at every part of my life like a coroner doing an autopsy. And I’ve learned her strength comes from one thing – my tendency to listen.
There’s only one way to lessen her power, and that is to stop listening. If you have your own Queen of Insecurity barking through a megaphone every day, you’ll know this is easier said than done. It’s incredibly difficult to imagine lowering her volume. She speaks in truths, right? She’s pointing out the obvious, bringing your attention to the judgments and failures everyone else sees, right?
Wrong. She is the voice of fear trying to keep you from believing in yourself, from taking a risk, from feeling pain. She’s trying to protect you, but she’s doing it in the worst way. She is not the voice of truth or reason or, frankly, love. She’s the relationship you grew out of years ago but you’ve allowed her to stick around because you go so far back. She doesn’t serve you anymore but she’s still there, barking. When was the last time you had an honest conversation with her about all the things she says?
Have a conversation with the voice in your head? I know, it sounds crazy, but stay with me for a moment… because you’re not really having a conversation with an imaginary mean girl in your head. In my mind, it goes something like this…
“It’s true we’ve been through a lot together and you know, intimately, what it feels like when I’m in pain. You’ve been there and neither of us wants to feel that again, I know. But, those things you say to me, they hurt me. You’re causing me more pain than any of those things you try to stop me from doing. I know you’re scared, that’s okay, but I need you to stop speaking to me that way. We can both be scared sometimes, but telling me I’m not good enough – that’s not okay. It’s because you know me so well that I believe you. When I believe that I’m not good enough, I feel immense pain. I feel disappointed and shame and I start to think that I’ll never be able to do the things I dream of doing. That’s painful. That’s heartbreaking. I need you to understand your words are the only source of that pain. I know you don’t want to hurt me, but, if this partnership is going to continue, I need you to be kind, compassionate, and logical rather than attacking my ideas. If we can’t do that, we’ll need to go our separate ways.”
Now believe me when I say this – she will agree. She doesn’t want to be left behind. She wants to be part of the journey, keeping you safe along the way. But it’s time to establish some boundaries. Bullying is not acceptable. Being cruel, judgmental, shameful, and hurtful is no longer the method of communication for identifying fear. You can both call it what it is and build a partnership that’s honest and equal, rather than existing in an imbalanced power dynamic with your Insecurity Queen that leaves you feeling crushed by your self-talk.
This conversation may have to be revisited a few times as she learns the new boundaries. That’s okay. The important part of the journey is that you work together to communicate differently, in a way that actually serves you. Somewhere along the way, you allowed her you lead you when you were supposed to be walking alongside her, with a full view of the journey ahead. She gets to have a say, to cast a vote, sure, but you’re the one who gets to make the final decision. She’s not the only one who gets to wear the crown.
So, how exactly do you go about having this conversation? Close your eyes and picture her. This is a one on one conversation, so tune out the distractions and place your hands over your heart. Give yourself some love and allow yourself to be emotional in being honest with her. She needs to know the truth. Be clear and kind. This is how things begin to change. You’re breaking up with the old way and building a new future. Remember, she wants to be involved. Invite her to join you moving forward, acknowledging the new boundaries she’s expected to respect.
When you’re done, you become her accountability partner. If she falls into old language, old habits, call her out on it and explain why it’s not okay. She can’t change all at once, but you can work together to heal and grow stronger. She is you, after all. And you’re capable of anything you set your mind to.