One of the most difficult parts of recovery is telling yourself the truth—being honest.
It’s easier to lie to yourself. To avoid it. To not look in the mirror and face pesky personal issues. But…and it’s a big but…a person who desires to heal from abuse, trauma, and betrayal has to get honest with herself first.
God tells us to take care of what’s blinding us before we try to help or correct others.
Winston Churchill put it this way:
“Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.”
Get honest with yourself.
Your success at this task may depend on your stage of recovery. Self-examination, when you’re wounded, may not be possible in the initial stages of recovery. At that point, when your heart feels like raw ground meat, you don’t have the emotional health to deal with more than the initial aftershocks. So, the first order of business is: Get help to get your feet back on the ground.
My honest personal evaluation began after several months of coaching and counseling. I had to get my feet under me and be at a place where everything wasn’t a crisis.
My clients who are ready for this next step in their healing process can accept some pushback on their level of honesty with themselves, like:
“I don’t like it when he ignores me.”
“Do you always respond to him when he asks a question?”
“I don’t believe a word he says. He gets so frustrated because he tells me he’s changed. But I can’t believe him.”
“I totally understand your concerns and lack of trust. How honest are you with him these days?”
Honesty can sting.
But remember pain reveals an existing problem. Conversations like this happen once my client and I have worked through the first stages of the Aftershock Recovery Method. We work up to it. The raw wounds need to begin to heal before we can move into the next phase of healing.
So, how do you “look in the mirror” with honesty? Or tell three truths and NO lie:
Listen to what you say.
Our words reveal what’s already in our minds and hearts. We speak what we feel. Those words can cause damage or care. Challenge yourself to listen to the words you speak to others and yourself. The truth-with-yourself phase of healing requires you to evaluate your words. How would you classify them? How do you speak about yourself? How do you speak to yourself? How do you speak about others? What goes unsaid?
Omit gross generalizations.
What are gross generalizations? Using words like “all”, “always”, “never”, and “everyone”. These words lump a group into one category. For example, all girls prefer to wear pink. Not true. I wear pink at times, but I actually prefer to wear blue. Your husband may have said something dishonest, but to generalize his speech as “always lying” isn’t accurate or fair. When we’ve been deeply wounded, we speak out of our pain. And, it’s very simple to drop in unfounded generalized statements to cover our hurt or to attempt to inflict hurt. Pay attention to your words. Listen for any gross generalizations.
Overlook slight offenses.
I struggled with this one. Everything Dave did for several months after his porn addiction recovery triggered offense. I bristled at most actions and words because I didn’t trust him at all. If he forgot something, I justified my anger that he did it on purpose to hurt me more. In fact, he simply just forgot. As we all do.
Learning to trust him again, took conscious choices to take him at his word. Then, I watched his actions to see if what he said was true. So often, we want the pain and healing to occur quickly or at least in a specified timeline. Ugh. I wish that were true. But, healing this level of damage in a relationship takes hard work and time. Unquantified time. Repetitive-healing-action time. Plenty of time to overlook slight offenses.
Whenever I caught myself taking offense again, I had to look in the mirror and talk truth. What expectation wasn’t met? Was I holding onto anything out of fear of getting hurt again? What was really going on in ME?
Key into positive actions.
Remember when you taught your children how to tie their shoes? It took repetitive practice and patience on your part and theirs. Each time they got close or got it done, you praised them, didn’t you? We all need to hear affirmation. Especially when we are learning or RE-learning something.
But, after discovering your husband’s porn addiction, the last thing you want to do is call out the good, positive behavior in him. We tend to forget the things we once enjoyed about this man we chose to be with. It’s time to look in the mirror daily and call out one positive action you observe. Then, thank your husband for that behavior. If you can’t do this, then ask yourself what is holding you back? Don’t shrink from the answer. It’s a key to healing.
Are you ready to look in the mirror and unpack some honest self-examination?
While it stretches you, it also frees you to be who you are. It opens your heart and mind to release the issues you’ve kept hidden for so long. You’ll find you can breathe again. Author Chet Scott in Becoming Built to Lead, 365 Daily Disciplines to Master the Art of Living, says that we all need vision correction.
“Your problem is your problem.
Your problem is not another person. If you are trying to mediate a problem with a teammate, trying to salvage your marriage through counseling, or working on any other relationship in your world, your problem will not get better until you fix your focus.”
It’s time to correct your vision as you look in the mirror.
Stop looking beyond the person reflected back to you. Face her head-on. Smile and promise her that together you’ll discover how speaking truth to yourself frees you up to be who you really are. Evaluate each criticism as revealing the pain already there. Now that you are no longer blind to it, you take healing action.
Then you can tell yourself three truths and no lie. And you can find compassion for those near to you who find honesty difficult. Because you did too.
Need help finding the truth? Getting your feet under you? I’d be happy to help. Honestly.