Four awful words

My daughter had a really tough time when she was four.

Just before she started kindergarten a bluebottle wrapped around her leg at the beach, two weeks later she violently, terrifyingly choked on a piece of squid in a restaurant, a few days later a little boy bit her so hard in the playground he left a set of teeth marks that stayed for hours.

She decided the world was a scary place and started shutting down. She became agoraphobic and stopped eating.

It was harrowing and beyond our experience to help her. So we turned to a psychologist who actualised her concerns into a creature called Mr Worry. My daughter described Mr Worry as a six-foot-high steak with eight arms and six legs that was chasing her.

The psychologist was amazing. She made Mr Worry go away in just a few months.

I’m so glad we sorted things out with a professional – my daughter has grown into a confident, happy, healthy kid.

Recently, I’ve been thinking about how I’d actualise my fears to a child psychologist. I’ve realised my creature is called Mr You Don’t Love Me (he also goes under the alias of Mr You Don’t Like Me).

Mr You Don’t Love Me has been lurking in my head for as long as I can remember.

When I was with my husband, Mr You Don’t Love Me would often escape through my lips. I’d wail to my ex – particularly when I was premenstrual – YOU. DON’T. LOVE. ME!!!

I’d say it in mock jest, but I can see now there was real panic inside me.

My husband assured me for the first 20 years of our relationship that he really DID. LOVE. ME. Until one day when he didn’t … and left … which gave Mr You Don’t Love Me a bit of a leg-up in the Ha, I was right! stakes.

Mr You Don’t Love Me is usually lurking in the background. It doesn’t matter how well things are going or what I’ve achieved, he’s constantly whispering that I’m not good enough … and I’ll often believe him, depending on how buffeted I am by circumstances or emotions.

When I’m feeling secure and happy, I know Mr You Don’t Love Me is full of shite.

Other times … smoke and mirrors come in very handy to get me through.

Mr You Don’t Love Me is a mean, nasty piece of work. I really hope he disappears from my life one day too, but I’m not sure he’s as easy to banish when you’re on the brink of 50 as when you’re on the brink of 5.

How do you tackle negative thoughts?

Song of the day: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds “Do you love me?”

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