Rules to Get Well
"Your language will betray you."
I often said this to students in my English classes. Language reflects
how we feel about ourselves,(often) how we feel about others,
and how we feel about the world.
In the beginning of every workshop, I set out some ground rules.
Language is an integral part of healing.
Language reinforces belief systems.
Part of healing involves... requires new language.
It requires that we deconstruct and discard old language.
It requires that we adopt and incorporate new language
that reflects our truth and the truth of who we are...
and not who others say we are.
Be as present as you possibly can.
Healing work often confronts us with painful memories and difficult truths. Sometimes things will surprise us, catching us emotionally off guard. In those moments, it is impossible to be fully present. When these things happen, pause. Stop. Tend to yourself. Then return to the work when you are ready.
There is no negative self-talk. Ever.
Jephthah's Daughters have heard negative talk most of their lives. They are often "problematized." "Why are you making problems (trouble)?" " What's wrong with you?" You are not who your father says (said) you are. Decide today to discard all negative language about yourself. Speak kind, positive words of affirmation and life. Practice it until it becomes your default way of thinking and speaking about yourself.
Keep your sisters safe and their stories confidential.
Prior to the pandemic, when we held workshops on these topics here, I would say, "This is safe space. What happens and is said in this room, stays in this room. The only stories you have permission to share are mine. Do we all covenant to do this?" Currently, we cannot gather and form a covenant community. However, we can create safe, covenantal space (if we don't already have it). Find a confidante. Be a confidante. Find and be a safe space for you and someone to hold one another and your stories. Find and create healing space for your spirit.
Trust the process.
Healing is painful. Healing is messy. And healing is not linear. One day you may feel like you have made great progress, and another day you may feel like you are back at square 2. Don't give up. Healing will come. Keep your commitment to your own healing. Don't give up. Trust the process.
Do the work, and let the work work you.
Interior work (work on the self, emotional work, psychological work) is hard work. And it is holy work. And it is healing work. And done right, it will work you. It will wear you out. You will be tired after doing the work some days. But don't run from the work. Do it in small, manageable doses. Stop in the middle if you need to. But don't be afraid... of fatigue, crying, or healing. All of these are necessary and restorative parts of the journey.
Be kind to yourself. Be gentle with yourself.
Healing work is unlike any other work you can do. You can't race or rush through it. Small steps can yield great breakthroughs. So don't talk negatively about or to yourself. You will move through at the pace that suits your spirit. So be kind to yourself. Be gentle with yourself. Always remind yourself that you are making progress. Like you pamper your body, pamper your spirit with kind words, patience, grace, and most of all love.
Change the language, "I'll get over it."
When you walk over something in the middle of the floor, it will remain exactly where you left it... until you move it. It will remain in the way. Until you pick it up, the pathway will always have an obstruction. This work is about removing the obstructions of your mind, heart, and spirit. "I'll get through this" or "I'll work it through" are good options to help shift your mind and language to a healing mindset.
Change the language, "What's wrong with me?"
Changing one's mindset and outlook often requires a change in language. There is nothing "wrong" with you. Language of being "damaged" or a "problem" is often inherited, hurtful, and untrue. Instead, ask yourself: "What problem am I having?" Or, "Who's wrong with me?" Or, "Who's wrong for me?" (Because sometimes, it not you... it's the other person.)
You are not alone. (It's not just you.)
There are many people who struggle with unhealthy paternal relationships. Don't be fooled by successful careers, spouses, or family photos. Social media doesn't help either. The truth is there are many people who have unhealthy relationships with their fathers. It's not just you. And there are a great number of people who have been freed, are healed, and are now whole. You are not alone... and you won't journey alone.
You HAVE and you ARE a testimony!
There's a song I love: "I'm still here | I'm still here | I made it through | so have you." You're still here! You're alive! You have survived what some cannot imagine. You have a testimony. You ARE a testimony. Celebrate that. Celebrate you.