There was a time when it took everything I had just to get through the day. When I would wake in the morning and hope to get through just one day without having flashbacks on continuous loop in my brain. When I would simply just blank out and shut down because I couldn’t take the overwhelming feelings of disgust, hatred, and betrayal.
Before I learned about grounding and redirection, I learned to tell myself, I’m ok. At first it was a way to remind myself that, while for that moment I was in a state of panic, I was really not losing my mind. It helped to quell the attacks by grounding me more in the reality that there was not anything wrong with me, but that I was momentarily experiencing something that was hard to deal with. There were times when I could be heard repeating to myself over and over, “I’m ok. I’m ok. I’m ok.” I’m sure I sounded a bit crazy, but it was all I could do to regain some control over my run away mind.
Over time, however, “I’m ok.” became a personal mantra. It became my way of saying to myself, and to the rest of the world, that there was really nothing wrong with me as a person. By saying these words to myself, I learned that I wasn’t crazy. I wasn’t wrong for feeling the way I did. My inner being wasn’t misshapen, disformed, or unlovable. I was really ok.
Sometimes it is important for us as survivors to remind ourselves the fundamental things like this. Even though we may not really believe it at first, in time, if we say it enough, we start to open up to the possibility. For me, “I’m ok.” was just the start. Over the years, I have learned to tell myself quite a few things – such as I am a beautiful person, I am worthy of love, I am not unlovable, I AM good enough.
Some people may think that a bit silly, but abuse teaches us that we are not any of these things, including ok. Sometimes it is our abusers who say these words. At other times, it is the perception about ourselves that their actions leave behind. Whatever the case, the lessons we learn from abuse are hard wired into our brains. We believe them because it is what we have been shown. We, in many ways, have been brain washed, and in order for us to break the never ending stream of negative thoughts we have learned to repeat to ourselves, we must train our brains to question everything we have ever learned…even if that means we have to start with saying, “I’m ok.”