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Naming the Shrew!
We all have one. Mine is a wizened old hag who’s been with me for as long as I can remember. I’ve named her the Haggard Doubter; she used to paralyze me. I came across an excerpt from my memoir (unpublished) and it reminded me of the hold she once had:
I could have stayed married in name, but the idea of spending my life alone in my marriage felt toxic and dangerous, as though it would kill me slowly. I still loved my husband and it was important to me that he was well cared for, but everything we had was gone. I could only care for him, mother him, and he already had a mother who wanted to do that. For the first time, I considered divorcing the man I’d pledged my life to. I wanted to live again. My heart lightened as I imagined working, writing, and being a mother in a new way. Within seconds the Haggard Doubter showed up.
“Divorce? Go ahead get a divorce. You’ll see what happens next.”
“I don’t have a husband anymore and I’ve waited more than three years for his return. He isn’t coming back. My life matters too.” I pleaded.
“Oh well, since you’re not in love with him just march on down to the courthouse and file for divorce, Missy. You promised to love him in sickness and in health, but who cares? Go ahead dump him off, he’s worthless now right? You’ll lose half of your assets and spend the rest on attorneys’ fees, but it sounds like a brilliant plan. You’ll be in the street soon. HA! Will wonders ever cease? The older you get the dumber you get.”
Frustrated and confused by the wizened wench’s continued presence, I asked, “Why do you hate me so much?”
“Hate you? Hate you! Are you kidding? I’m the one who’s loved you the most.” She gasped. “I’ve tried to keep you from making stupid mistakes your whole life! I’ve told you to stop trying to be something you’re not and to stop reaching so damn high. I did that to save you, but you never listened, did you?”
For the first time I saw her for who she really was. She was the sum total of my fears. She never wanted to harm me; she wanted to save me. To her any move outside my comfort zone was a threat to my life and she wanted to protect me. I felt compassion for her.
“It’s going to be alright,” I reassured. “We‘re safe. It’s okay. We can handle whatever happens.”
I realized that the voice of the Haggard Doubter would always remain a part of me, but I didn’t have to believe or fear her anymore. When she became agitated, she needed reassurance and I needed to be courageous enough to follow my heart anyway. I needed to trust the knowing that came from my calm heart.
For the first time in my life, I felt strong and secure in myself. I had been handed a life of extraordinary challenges and I was still here, whole and complete.
We all have an inner voice that doubts, criticizes and trembles when we stretch. It isn’t the voice of truth. It’s afraid and wants to keep you from risking failure. Give it a name to help you recognize that it isn’t your higher self. Treat it like a cranky baby. Take it in your lap, cuddle it and hold it against your chest. Thank it, reassure it and move toward your good. You are worthy, ___________ enough, and more than whatever you face.