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Silencing the Bully In Your Head

“Mum” said the boy in the shower cubicle next to me at the beach, “this new boy at school said that he’s the best dancer in the whole wide world..” “Oh really” responds his mum. “Yeah and he said that I can’t even dance.” The mum continues to shower her son and they get out as I continue to eavesdrop on their conversation.

“Did that boy say that you can’t dance?” this mother continues in her British accent. Her young son responding positively. “Well then you need to tell him ‘thats what you think, it doesn’t mean that its true.”

There’s always going to be that bully at school, in the workplace, on social media… those people who get a kick out of making you feel less than you are. I was bullied a lot as a kid- for my colour, for my size, my looks and even my bottom lip #smh.

Too often we let the insides of our head get messed up when we would never allow it to happen on the outside. Let’s clean up the inside first!

But as an adult, I’ve found that the greatest bully I need to silence is the bully inside my head.

That voice that reiterates the insecurities that potentially were brought about because of those childhood incidences.

That message that tells me that I’m not worthy.

That negative thought that pops up when I am told something positive about myself.

That fear that rears its ugly head when faith is calling me to step out of the box.

Well, I’m about to start my own little Anti-Bullying campaign and I’m inviting you to join me!!!

Bullying is unacceptable in most schools, so why do we let it happen in our school of thought. We wouldn’t ever let our friends get bullied so why do we accept it for ourselves?? Its time we take back power from the bully in our mind and give ourselves a second chance at living our best life. So here are three things you can do to silence the bully..

  1. LET IT GO. “Let it go” was my personal challenge for 2019 way before the year began. See I have a tendency to hold onto things that I don’t need to hold onto. Grudges and points I need to make are a couple of things I find it hard to release. I can harp on at my kids about a mess they left in the kitchen for MUCH longer than I should.. and I hate it. Holding on to a thought that a bully put in your head is the same thing. Its like playing a game of tug of war and allowing that rope to connect you to your opposing team. We think that if we hold on, then we might have a chance of winning! But in letting go of the rope, we allow the other side to fall right down- Our arms are relieved and our team are still in tact. Letting go of the negative thoughts about ourselves will release us to be our real self. We will be able to see us for who we really are and not be tied to the thing that is trying to pull us across the line of insanity. Its just a game after all- the real battle is played when we are at our best and living our authentic self.
  2. LET IT GROW. Let the bully inside your head grow to the point in which it benefits you. How can it benefit you when its negative and demeaning? Well it works like a compass, pointing you back to a time in your life where you were hurt. When you get to the point where this problem is so big that you can’t deny the issue that it causes in your life, then you have the opportunity to use it for your betterment. In my book “Into the Garden”, I talk about how weeds are often an indicator of something that is deficient in the soil. We can allow weeds to grow in our heart when our hearts are deficient of certain nutrients. Nutrients like love and healthy attachments, boundaries and courage. When fear starts to bully you then maybe you need to increase your levels of courage. Go and surround yourself with people who encourage you! Place yourself in atmospheres where courage is given out! The church should be a good place to find the nutrients your heart needs.
  3. LET IT SHOW. Our weaknesses are an opportunity for Gods strength to become our own. David in the Old Testament had a real life bully- Saul! Saul was out to kill David and set up an army to watch over his house. In the middle of that David wrote a Psalm and began and ended that Poem by saying this:

You are my strength, I sing praise to you; you, God, are my fortress, my God on whom I can rely.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭59:17‬ ‭NIV‬‬

We can rely on God to become our strength when we admit that we need His help. It’s about being vulnerable and humble and saying “I need you Jesus! I’m desperate for you.” And you know what He does- He dispels the lies that have been beating you up in your head. He comes in ever so kindly and reminds you of who you are, and of WHOSE you are.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭2:9‬ ‭NIV‬‬

When the bully in your head tries to keep you locked up in a dark room in your mind, remind it that God called you out of there. You are HIS special possession. He’s so in love with you and calls you His own. Meditate on the word of God, on His truth about you and surround yourself with people who remind you of those truths.

Soon you won’t even recognise the bully in your head when it comes knocking at the door again. Like the mum at the start said, you can say to the bully “that’s what you think, it doesn’t mean its true.”


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Confessions of a Recovering Codependent; My personal journey of living with an Addict and the Holy Spirit

The first time I heard the term “Codependent”, I was writing an assignment for my ex-husband’s social work assignment.

LOL

Funny, not funny yet so ironic.

The textbook read something like the Oxford definition of the word:

“Excessive emotional or psychological reliance on a partner, typically one who requires support on account of an illness or addiction.”

It spoke of a relationship that was based on each other’s dysfunction and how the motivation behind the forming of that relationship often stemmed from one’s own “need to be needed.”

My heart pleaded “GUILTY” and I was confronted with not only my own heart condition within the marriage relationship, but also outside of it. I never spoke a word of it, stored it in the “Memories” folder of my brain and moved on with life. (That WAS the last assignment I did for him though. Hello?!)

Codependency” then confronted me years later. The term was used in its old school form “co-addict” within the pages of a book I was given at the event of my marriage break up. This beautiful psycho-therapist who had returned to her homeland of Ethiopia after studying in the US and working in the area of addiction, had just taken a book from her friend’s shelf the week that she met with me for coffee.

We were “co-labourers” in the mission field of Ethiopia and found ourselves serving for many of the same projects, which prompted us to investigate the reason for this, over a macchiato. The day we finally got around to catching up, was the week I had finally separated from my alcoholic husband. With this at the forefront of my mind, I poured my heart out to her as coffee was being poured out for us. She told me of this book called Women who love too much, and lent it to me alongside her professional support as I read through it.

Women who love too much spoke about the codependent/co-addict women who often end up in relationships like mine. This book opened my eyes to the reality of what my previous 20 years of relationship had been governed by- his addiction and my manipulating and enabling behaviour. It drew my attention to the tendencies that are described in this post about codependency and it had me cringing at the me I used to be.

It was confronting and it was real. I read it religiously over a couple of weeks, trying to slowly digest the rawness of its contents.

While being confronted with this, I was also trying to grapple with the effects of my separation as a missionary alone with four children in a country that was experiencing political tension at the time.  Taking on the responsibility of the only change I could make -for me and my kids, the reality of the recovery journey I had to embark on, eventually forced me (in a good way) to come to Sydney.

Here, over the last two years, I’ve taken on board the advice the book gave, but also put some things in place that have come as an organic response to the flow this current has taken us. “Waves” are described as “a disturbance that travels through a medium from one location to another.” This marriage breakup was a disturbance that caused a wave to move us from Africa to Australia and the medium was the Holy Spirit. He moved us. He protected us, and He essentially has guided me through this journey of recovery.

Here’s How:

  1. “A Disillusioned Marriage”– was the prophetic word given by a visiting preacher from the Pulpit of Beza Church on the eve of our departure from Ethiopia. I knew it was speaking to me but I didn’t know what it meant. I was disillusioned. My marriage wasn’t what I thought it was. The week I landed in Australia, I attended a conference in the Central Coast where one speaker had a CD all about being Disillusioned-I bought it. She (Alicia Britt-Chole) described it as “A gaining of reality”, or the “dissing of an illusion.” What I thought my marriage was, did not match up with the reality I was confronted by when I admitted that I was not responsible any longer for my partner’s behaviour. I had to make an intentional choice to no longer live in an illusion but to ask the Holy Spirit to help me align my thoughts and life with His reality for me.
  2. “The Serenity Prayer”– Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference. The day I landed in Sydney, there was an Al-Anon meeting happening around the corner of our house we had moved into with my mum. She came with me as a support and I met with other people who had been in or were in, relationships with addicts. We were all admitting to our own addictions, submitting to the 12 step recovery program and allowing stories to be told within a safe environment set up to help people like us. I admitted that I had no power to change and needed the Holy Spirit (my Higher Power) to assist me in that. And He did. Getting in a support group like that, not only helped me to see that I wasn’t the only one who had experienced what I had experienced, but it also reflected back to me, through the stories of others, how necessary it was for me to break this cycle of addiction.
  3. “Its not your responsibility”– As I sat in a counsellors office, having a final “closure” mediation with my ex-husband, I heard a still small voice counsel me out of the physical tension I was experiencing. After apologising for all the manipulative behaviour and lack of accepting him for who he was, then asking one question of him, he started to react in a way that had become his norm. My norm was to take on the responsibility of that reaction and feel bad, guilty and try to appease the behaviour…but then I heard those words. And they didn’t just pop into my head, they were taken on board by the counsellor in the room. He assigned the responsibility back to the one who had decided to react like that and intercepted it from being passed off to me. I walked around a lake that day, over a bridge called the Jubilee Bridge, and understood that I had been emancipated from the slavery I had been brought under by my codependence. I. Was. Free. 2018 took us to another level as I began the year reading the book “Boundaries” by Cloud and Townsend. Game Changer. “Let your ‘No’ mean ‘No’ and respect other people’s ‘No'” became our family theme. Circumstances and challenges have caused my children and I to go to new levels in establishing boundaries for ourselves. I’m being coached through the online group by Dr Henry Cloud- Boundaries.me. One of the key causes of codependency is a lack of boundaries, so while I haven’t quite arrived, those fences are definitely being built and its great! 
  4. “Listen to the Holy Spirit 100%”- Last year I had a dream that I was dropping my kids off in a van then got onto a motorbike. I was riding the bike for a bit and it was sunny so I put my sunglasses on…then it started raining so I took them off and as I continued down the road I saw a van on the side of the road that had been in an accident and had casualties inside…but I kept on riding. The motorbike turned into a push bike and then eventually I started walking up a hill. As I walked up the hill, I heard a voice from behind me saying “Who do you listen to? People? Or the Holy Spirit?” The voice came from a beautiful little girl who kept walking passed me as she said “Listen to the Holy Spirit 100%! Listen to the Holy Spirit 100%!” This was a reminder to me that, no matter what the conditions, or the crises, the vehicle I’m being transported on in life’s journey or who I’m riding with- the Holy Spirit’s voice needs to be my dominant guide. Too often I have lived to please people- to help people- and to trust people. At the end of the day, if my motivation is driven by what the Holy Spirit has to say to me, then I must trust that He will get me to where I need to go and that I will cause no harm to myself or to others. Isaiah 30:21 says “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” That’s His promise to us!
  5. “Shine!” This program that I was introduced to at Hillsong Church, is all about empowering women to know their strength, worth and purpose. It helped me to come out of my insecure ways, low self-esteem and think positively about the visions that God has given me for my future. It wasn’t just a support group for women but an outreach of God’s loving hand to show me a better way. It was a tool that is research based and offers Cognitive Behavioural therapy within the confines of a loving environment. I sat through three semesters of this program before I actually got to help facilitate it for a group of women in the community who had been in similar situations to me.

In Luke 22:32, Jesus is talking to Simon Peter and warning him about his imminent betrayal. In light of this, He encourages him with these words “But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” Even though Simon Peter denied he knew Jesus, Jesus was praying for him not to lose his faith. And that when he came through, that he would encourage others. Jesus never disqualified Peter as an apostle but knew that it would give him more authority in encouraging others, because of his failure.

Though I have felt like I failed in this area of codependency, I have actually passed. I have passed through the recovery process and am in a stronger position now to tackle the challenges that come my way. I am able to resonate with the stories of those who feel like they are under the same slavery. And therefore, I am able to offer them hope and strength.

God turned around the ashes of my codependent nature and gave me a beautiful dependence on Him. I love Him for that. His Holy Spirit is the best source of comfort and guidance- may it be yours today too.

Look out for my book where I talk a bit more about this part of my journey.

My Recovery Song

 

 

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