Day 4

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    Leanne Matton

    They said…

    I’m good at grammar
    I’m punctual
    I’m not good enough
    I shouldn’t say what I think
    I’m a people person
    It’s not right to ask for help
    I can’t cope if things don’t go the way I planned.
    I don’t like mornings.

    We all have so many stories we believe about ourselves: These stories come from a variety of sources, mostly a combination of external events and the internal meaning we place on those events.

    They aren’t the truth. They’re perceptions, either ours or someone else’s. For example, one person might be told they have no aptitude for music, and this might make them try even harder to prove this wrong. Another person who is told this same thing might not bother trying at all because they decide the story is true.

    What stories have you believed about yourself that might not be really true? Remember the Beatles were told they would never get a record deal. Michael Jordan was told he was too short to play basketball. Walt Disney was told he lacked imagination, and Oprah was told she was ‘unfit for tv’.

    We make decisions about our lives based on the stories we’re told about ourselves. If we believe the story that we’re not good at making conversation, we might avoid social situations. This means we never get to improve our skills in this area and change the ‘story’. Instead we make it true.

    Unless we recognise it as a story and question its truth.

    Today’s prompt is simply that, calling in the stories. Tell us what they said. Tell us what you believed.

    If you feel triggered as you do this, hold yourself gently and try to stay with it. This is the difficult stuff we’re awakening and shifting and it will stir up the debris. This is good, but it’s important to have support. Our community is there for you, the Safety & Security e-book is there for you, and you may have other resources. Reach out.

    Let us know if you want feedback. Be wherever you need to be. You are all on a hero’s journey.

    They said…

    I phone to see when my nanna’s funeral will be. She died the day before and I need to request time off work to attend her farewell.

    I am told she was cremated this morning. It’s done.


    I ask why wasn’t I included. It was just close family I’m told. I grew up with this woman, my mother’s mother. She lived with us for some of that time.

    But I can’t attend her funeral, it’s done. It was just ‘close family’.

    They said: you’re not a close member of this family.
    I believed: I don’t belong. I’m not enough.


    My father was an early riser, and he felt I should be too. My energy levels are at their lowest in the mornings, and I get much less done then no matter how early I went to bed the night before.

    My most productive time has always been after dinner. When I was at university, this was the time I could study most efficiently and get assignments written. I’m also at my most creative at this time – most of my writing is done after 10pm.

    I get just as much done as a morning person, I just do it at a different time of day. My energy levels rise through the day, like most night owls, whereas morning people tend to drain energy as the day progresses.

    They said: You’re not an early riser, you’re wasting your life away.
    I believed: Im lazy.


    I never thrived on ‘busyness’, I need chunks of time to daydream, wander outside in nature, see friends and read. I don’t walk or talk fast, I don’t include more than one demanding activity a day in my schedule.

    As a child I was often last finished with whatever we were doing in class, and I hated competitive activities that were timed. One of my parents’ friends even told me I was ‘weird’ because I was dawdling one day.

    At the same time, I always get my work in on schedule, I hate keeping people waiting, and I usually get my to do list done each day, because it isn’t overloaded.

    They said: You’re too slow, you’re not productive enough, you’re weird.
    I believed: There’s something wrong with me.


    She notices I’m using luke warm water in the old manual washing machine to rinse the clothes. She screams. She wrenches the hose off me. She hits, my head, my shoulders. I’m wasting electricity, she tells me. Cold water only, even though it’s the middle of winter and my hands are red and numb.

    It was just a trickle of warm water.

    They said: I’m sure she wasn’t that bad, you’re too sensitive.
    I believed: Nobody believes me, they don’t care, I’m alone.


    Write down all the things that hold you back and see if you can identify the story behind each block. Then ask yourself:

    Is it true in all situations?
    Where’s the evidence for it?
    Is there any evidence against it?
    What would change if you were to question it?

    Example: questioning ‘I’m lazy’:

    Is it true in all situations?
    No I worked really hard to get where I am now.

    Where’s the evidence for it?
    Sometimes I sleep late if I’ve had a busy week.

    Is there any evidence against it?
    I work hard for what I want and I rarely ask for help.

    What would change if you were to question it?
    I would see myself as a productive member of society regardless of what time I get out of bed.

    Once you challenge these, think about what corrective experiences you could focus on. When did you feel loved, respected, valued, clearly seen and heard, even for a moment?

    Directing our attention to corrective experiences instead of ones that confirm these stories is the beginning of healing. It does NOT come through minimising or dismissing the very real pain of the things people told you about yourself that were inaccurate or unfair.

    Example: questioning ‘I’m lazy’:

    I received an award at university for having the highest score in my clinical psychology class. As a result I was offered a half-scholarship to do the Masters degree. The Professor told me I had worked hard and deserved it.

    When you identify one of those corrective moments, can you feel it somewhere in your body? Hold that felt sense for at least 30 seconds. Research shows this is how the brain rewires itself and gets unstuck.

    Example: questioning ‘I’m lazy’:

    I felt a rainbow of light radiating out from my stomach area. My calf muscles felt fizzy. I smiled broadly and I saw an image of myself standing at graduation with my degree in hand.


    Today’s prompt: Tell us what they said, then tell us what’s true.


    I had already written a response to this prompt in here but I think I forgot to scroll down to SUBMIT. Same with the next prompt. SO I’m writing again, it’s 1:40am and I am way over tired so my writing might be quite scrambled.

    When I express my feelings They say I’m over reacting. I need to step back. I need to let things happen and let other people sort things out. To leave them to get on with it.

    They are actually telling me to ignore my feelings, my “knowing” about things. Don’t see, don’t say, let it go, don’t rock the boat. They want it made easy for them. They are telling me, “Don’t tell me how you feel because I don’t want to see. I don’t want to feel I have to take action. Just be quiet. ”

    I’m in the space now of not being gaslit by them. So if I’m not dismissing me, if I’ve stopped doing that but they still are, how do I navigate that? I’m watching abuse that no one else is seeing. I’m watching my mum newly widowed elderly mum play out her marriage with her visiting youngest son who still can’t leave to return to his interstate home because of covid regulations. I’m watching my brother be the bully that my father was. Ha. That’s it. Bully in the family home again. Leaving ME feeing child like and helpless

    It’s ME who is feeling so helpless, not my mum. She’s exhausted and in shock and devastated. She’s appearing helpless but she’s a narcissist and she always wants others to fight her battles. Yep, MY feelings are real. My revulsion at being near him is accurate.

    I made the mistake of speaking out to Them, to sharing my feelings. I forgot I would have my feelings dismissed, ignored, diminished. I forgot to look after me. My feelings are real and accurate. I’m going to love, respect, value and clearly see and hear myself.The confusion and static I fall into so easily in this time of grief is a family system designed to keep me down and repressed and in my place. It’s so, so sad. SO sad that I don’t know what to do with that pain.

    I love some of my family? I don’t actually like them.

    SO what does that say about my experience of love?

    I hold that in my body and see books being stacked up. Knowledge. I’m learning.

    Leanne Matton

    Oh that “over reacting” response, it’s just infuriating and debilitating ? You deciphered it perfectly – we don’t want to know, don’t want to respond, so not only stop having your feelings but believe they never existed in the first place.
    I sometimes wonder if the harm caused by abuse is somehow less than the harm done by the gaslighting that’s comes on top of it. Revulsion is a strong feeling that can’t be ignored. Your insight, your feelings, your knowing – they are all real and don’t become any less real because someone else refuses to look.
    What it says about your experience of love is that you still know how to do it, your biological responses are intact even after all you’ve experienced. How miraculous that in the middle of the trenches with all the mud thrown at you, you still have love to give. And grief can be defined as love with nowhere to land. It is so so SO sad.


    Leanne, thank you for your beautiful reply. I needed that.

    Leanne Matton


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