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You’re Still That Girl


Nov. 05, 2019

I would not be where I am today without getting back in touch with the girl I used to be.
After decades spent in two abusive marriages, the second of which was to a diagnosed narcissist, I became a shell of the woman I once was. Upon escape at the age of 45 and taking those first steps on my healing journey, I felt isolated and alone — not even the woman in the mirror could help since I didn’t recognize her anymore.
My only hope came in the realization that in order for me to move forward, I needed to go back first.
Back to that girl I used to be before the world got its hands on me. Before jumping into my first abusive marriage at the age of twenty-two. And long before careening into abusive marriage number two before the ink was dry on divorce number one.
This girl I used to be was not a fixed age when I started searching the past for her. She was seven and twelve and sixteen. She was imaginative, bold, and spunky; she was innocent, creative and keen. There was no interruption between her head and her heart, no second-guessing an instinct to jump, no ambiguity about where she was headed, what she wanted to do, and how she could get there.
She was in direct contrast to the woman I became in my forties, a woman whose head and heart was a mangled mess of doubt, confusion, and fear. I had shut that girl up a long time before since existing within an abusive relationship requires the suppression of our true selves. That girl I used to be wouldn’t have allowed me to enable the bad behavior of another, thus I had to send her into the corner and tell her to be quiet, where she would wait patiently for the next twenty-five years for me to call her back out.
She was always there, however, holding the truth in her hand like a precious stone. Call it instinct, intuition, a sixth sense — the semantics don’t matter here. What does matter is that we all have that voice of truth within us whether we choose to listen to it or not.
That girl I used to be was the only one who could tell me who that stranger in the mirror was. Though it required my willingness to dig deep into the truth of how I found myself where I did (a victim of abuse), the girl I used to be promised that if I just took her hand and held on tight, she would lead me out of the darkness that I had existed in for my entire adult life up to that point.
This is how true recovery and healing works. We must be willing to face those hard truths that for so long we’ve suppressed and ignored. This is impossible, however, if we only rely on the voice (or voices) in our head from the present, simply because those voices can’t be trusted and is how we got into trouble in the first place.
Our emotional freedom when we’re grown women is dependent on our ability to listen carefully to the girl we used to be. And to trust her, since there’s no one else who holds the key to who we really are.
If you’re struggling to “find yourself,” if you don’t recognize the woman in the mirror, if you go through each day filled with doubt and uncertainty about where you are and where you’re going, it’s time to call that girl out of the corner that you put her in all those years ago (we do this unconsciously, just like we ignore all those red flags about someone we love, or make decisions that we know deep down are not in our best interest).
Go back to the girl who used to believe she could fly, who played and ran and competed right along with the boys in her neighborhood, having yet to be told she wasn’t worthy enough because of her “girl-ness.” That girl whose dreams couldn’t fit into the Grand Canyon because of their scope and size, and who knew without a doubt what she was capable of and what she deserved even if all other outside forces — father, mother, sibling, friend — were trying to convince her otherwise.
Go back to the girl before the labels.
Back to before others told you who are and stuck names on you like sticky notes that you’re still covered with to this day: too sensitive, too needy, too emotional, high maintenance, you need to grow a thicker skin, that wasn’t very nice of you …you get the picture.
She’s been waiting and watching as you’ve given your power to people who never deserved it but who tricked and manipulated you into giving it to them. And now you sit alone and empty-handed, believing you’re not worthy of anything better, believing others when they told you who you are.
As if they had a fucking clue.
No one knows your brilliance, your wisdom, your courage, or your insight and instinct and intuition better than you, and the only reason you can’t see this right now is because of the forgotten girl within.
It may not be easy to get back in touch with her simply because you won’t recognize her voice. But if you push out the noise of your past and those who’ve caused you pain, strip yourself of the labels that cover you head to toe, and remember what it was like to be six or ten or fifteen or whatever age you were when you felt whole and in your original state of being, then you’ll be one step closer to connecting to the core of who you always were and who you still are today.
Because you’re still that girl.
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