One thing that came as a result of living with a husband who rarely showed me love was that there came a point where I didn’t know who I was anymore; I had lost myself. I was constantly reacting to what he would or wouldn’t do. I would orchestrate all I said and did so he would love me back or keep him from acting a certain way. After a while, I couldn’t even remember what made me happy, and I was often consumed with anger. What did I want? What did I like? What were my dreams and goals? I had sacrificed my plans to support him. I had forgotten what they even were.
I think the day I realized I was a different person came while watching a movie with my children. It was a part of the Disney movie Moana that showed me something. If you have seen it, do you remember the part where Moana realizes who Te Ka is? She realized that the angry fire monster was the goddess she sought. The goddess of life and goodness.
Once she realizes this, she goes to her and sings:
I have crossed the horizon to find you
I know your name
They have stolen the heart from inside you, but this does not define you
This is not who you are
You know who you are
Moana then replaces the goddess’s heart, and she is once again restored to herself, the island of Te Fiti. She is then able to live out her purpose once again. She restores life to her island and the islands around her.
When I saw this, I cried. I realized that I was that angry fire monster. I was breathing anger and resentment; I was scraping along rock bottom, trying to grasp hold of anything that would help or give relief. I had completely lost myself.
I didn’t realize this until the second time I saw the movie. Maybe it was when I was ready to see it. I had already filed for divorce. My soon-to-be ex was out of the house, and I was beginning to see things more clearly.
When I understood this was who I had become, I decided to return to who I once was. Deep down, I knew who that was. Who I wanted to be. Who I was meant to be.
In my search to remember who I was, I came across the work of Dr. Stephen Stosny. He has done a great deal of work with abuse victims and abusers. He teaches how to find and rebuild your Core Values. He says that this is often lost during an abusive or another type of traumatic situation. His teaching has helped me.
Core Values are most commonly used today in business. Many organizations and businesses define their core values and create their culture around them. Each military branch has its Core Values that recruits memorize while in Boot Camp. It is the basis of what they will do and how they will act and think as they serve. Many would say an organization’s core values answer, “What is the most important thing about the organization?”
This is also true for your core values. Your core values are the most important thing about you. The easy way to uncover yours is to ask yourself,
What is the most important thing about me? What do I want my loved ones to remember about me when I have passed away?
Now, sum that up in about three describing words or write it out in one to two sentences. How hard is that? Especially if you have lost yourself and are unsure about what is important, or even good about you.
One of the most significant barriers to our Core Values is hurt. If you have been hurt, you may be feeling a sense of guilt or shame. You may be blaming yourself for what others have done to you. I know that amid both my destructive marriages, I often blamed myself for being there.
I even still find that I ask myself things like, Why didn’t you see it sooner? Why didn’t you leave sooner? How could you have let him do that to you and your children? How could you be so stupid, gullible, naive?
So, how do you get past the hurt to find your Core Values again and begin to live them? Dr. Stosny says the first step is to ‘Value more than you Devalue’. I think this is the same idea as the gratitude movement. When you focus on finding things that you are thankful for, it lifts your spirits and helps you move forward. This concept is the same.
The first step to finding who you are again, breaking through the hurt to your core value, is to value more.
Below are the major areas of value-creation. Tapping into any one of them stimulates core value and relieves guilt, shame, emotional numbness; even utter meaninglessness:
Appreciation of natural and creative beauty
Sense of community
Compassionate actsStephen Stosny
You can start by choosing one of these areas and seeking to value those things more. As you read through this list, which one stuck out to you? Focus on that one for at least a week.
Some ways you build value are:
Basic humanity – Show respect to others around you. Value others’ opinions and input in a conversation. Show courtesy to strangers. Open the door for someone. Say please and thank you. Apologize if you get in someone else’s way.
Attachment (love) – Spend time with those you love. Hold your kids tight. Cuddle your dog or cat. Invite your sister to coffee and treat her.
Spirituality – Read a devotional or verse of the day. Listen to a spiritual podcast. Spend some time meditating. Pray. Talk to someone you look up to for their spiritual life.
Appreciation of Nature or Creative Beauty – Revel in the sunset or sunrise. Notice all the new flowers blooming in your neighborhood. Lay on your back in your yard at night and look up at the stars. Look at a painting and point out what you like about it. Listen to a song and appreciate the rhythm or poetry.
Sense of Community – Reach out to a friend. Attend a group event and get to know someone better. Talk to or help a neighbor. Join a new group that has a similar value or interest as you.
Compassionate Acts – Be kind for no reason. Buy someone else’s coffee or dinner. Send a card to someone who needs it. Go out of your way to help someone. Smile at people as you pass them by.
Which one of these areas will you start with? Plan what you might do to begin building value in that area. Start today or tomorrow. It will help if you declare it. Write out what you will do in a comment below, or come to our Facebook Group and share with us what you do each day of your week to begin this journey.
We will talk more about remembering who you are. Together, we will work to restore your heart so you can once again be the goddess you were meant to be. You will once again give life to those around you.
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