The endless lists – not just the ones posted on the kitchen cupboard, but the ones cataloged in her mind – had helped to get her here. Those words had changed her. She’d certainly improved. When comparing herself to where she’d been even six years ago, she’d come a long way.
Breathing was easier. Sleep was deeper. Certainly her kids were happier. But why was she still dealing with an ever-present dark shadow? Why would she wake enthusiastic and light-footed only to run headlong into the shadow by day’s end?
She’d stop long enough to sit with an iced tea and settle her mind – to the extent that she could. She’d approach her thoughts like an efficient, eager-to-please administrative assistant organizing piles on her desk into Handle Now, Needs More Info, Suspends, and Circular File.
Which of the thoughts were coalescing into the dark shadow? Which thoughts continued to haunt her?
The recurring thought – the thought on top of every pile – was always, “I’m not good enough.”
She could logically think, “I know where that comes from. I don’t believe that. I refuse to let that take space in my mind.” After a glass of wine, she could even laugh at the absurdity of the thought. But while she could think a distance between herself and the thought, she could not feel a distance between herself and the thought.
The nerve endings in her fingers identified with the thought. The corners of her mouth recognized the thought and, as if on cue, would turn down in response. The fibers in her being resonated at the arrival of the thought and there she’d go. She’d grab the shovel and start digging. “Oh, here it is! That place I go. The one that’s dark and gloomy and sad and yet it feels good to go there cuz I know it so well.” The deeper she dug, the darker it got. “Let’s jump right in! I wonder how long I’ll stay this time. Hm… maybe I’ll dig a little deeper and wallow awhile.”
Only once she’s there, it doesn’t feel so good. She wants to get out. She doesn’t want to be pulled down there again.
It’s one thing to stop putting up with the abuse from her narcissistic ex. But when would she stop accepting this abuse from herself? When would she give herself a reprieve?
If it were only that easy. If only she could dump those thoughts in the circular file and empty the file into the dumpster.
But first she’d have to put down the shovel.