what is real and what is not

April 14, 2013Karen Courcy

sorrow4One of the things that had been a struggle for me off and on through the years of healing from my past is trying to differentiate between what is real and what is not.

When people say I am a good person, I see my self different.

When I am feeling down about myself and talk about it, people look at me weird like “that is not what I see“, and it’s so hard to hear that.

When I get a compliment I see it, and I hear it – but its distorted.

There have been times in the past when I would send an email to my support and have this whole image in my head of what this person thought, felt or did, and when they come back and tell me something totally different, I think “wow that is not how I saw it, I saw it as I was needy and they saw it as a beautiful connection”.

It’s amazing how much my past has messed that part of my life up. It’s almost as if my past distorts anything that is real and turns it into how I was made to feel by others in my past.I am trying to overcome seeing what is real and seeing what is the past, but it’s not easy.

If you are walking around in a whirlpool going in the same direction for 35 years, I can tell you right now, it’s hard as hell to turn and walk in the opposite direction. It takes strength, it takes belief, it takes power, it takes trust that if you turn and walk in the opposite of what you believed, it’s okay and it will be okay.

6 years into therapy and I am still making that turn towards the whirlpool of my past – that is how strong the lies are.

A part of this “inner child work” is taking those lies and reversing it. hearing what is truth vs what is a lie. Seeing what is real and knowing what is not.

The photo above describes this perfectly. The bird is always a beautiful thing, but he see’s himself as something different in his reflection. That is how I feel many times, and it takes a lot of practice and self talk to see myself the way others see me.

There are times I say to my therapist “I wish I could see what you see” and he says “I wish you could see what I see”. It’s hard it really is.

When you have been abused it takes away that self-worth of yourself. It seems distorted.

Last week I sat with my therapist and said to him “this body sitting right here on this couch has been abused by many people. There is no one part of my body that has not been touched without my consent”.

How do you reverse the truth and see  the goodness in that? How do you move on in life knowing that if all these people could hurt me, how am I worth anything? how is it that others see me as beautiful and filled with goodness and yet I see a woman who is tainted?.

The process of healing is what makes those moments the hardest because it’s the hardest turn against the same current I have been walking with for 30+ years of my life, and now here I am over 40 and I am still fighting to make the turn completely against the lies I was made to believe about myself.

I do know one thing, I am far from where I was when I first started this journey. I am not walking with the current, I am walking sidewards trying to turn myself against it. I am fighting it, I know there is something bigger and better on the other side of this same current I have been on. I know there is a place to where I can see what is real and what is not.

I can’t wait for the day to see the things that others see. There are days that I see a small glimpse and feel the grace all around me, but then I get pulled in again by the lies. There will come a day when the lies wont be strong enough, and I will make that turn and never go in that direction again.

That is my hope.

A pure example of what is real and what is not – My therapist just sent me an email tonight (our Sunday night email exchange) and he reminded me of the goodness in me. The good person I am, and how much I am worth showing up to session tomorrow and each time after that.. and for a moment my heart smiled, but inside are the deep old messages/lies and it makes me sad that I have to second guess how people perceive me, and I wonder what it would be like to fully accept that goodness in that email.

I wonder what life would be like seeing what is real and what is not real.

I wonder what I am capable of outside of the lies that were put upon me as a child. I wonder the kind of person I can be walking in my own direction in the whirlpool and not the direction that was forced upon me.

So I will continue to turn and fight against the current and the old lies, and I will find what is real and what is not. I will fight to find that belief.

I know it’s close, and each day it gets a little easier.. and I am closer than I was yesterday.


  • Sharon O

    April 14, 2013 at 11:04 PM

    Keep pressing on and you will break through to the other side.
    It is hard sometimes to know the difference between what is real and what you think is real. (there is a difference) Often when we are little we are looking at life through little peoples eyes. When we are older looking back it seems a bit different. Keep doing the work it will be worth it.
    (wow your counselor emails you? mine would never do that. HE will call and we will talk but that is the line he draws)

    1. KarenBeth

      April 14, 2013 at 11:11 PM

      Hi Sharon … oh yeah.. a lot of therapists do that with their clients.. A lot of people I know in therapy write to their therapists and the therapist writes back.

      Me and My therapist have been emailing for 6 years .. it’s good because I am a writer and sometimes writing out how I feel is sometimes more therapeutic at times I have a hard time “talking” about it in session.

      We trust each other because there is a huge boundary I stick to, and I respect that.. so oh yeah we totally trust to email each other. In fact we joked about making a book of all the saved emails and how therapeutic the process has been.. not only do I heal in therapy, but also on the outside – it’s helpful at times.

      I am sure each therapist is different and what they feel is safe for boundaries, but i am the type of person that takes half when a whole is given to me.. I think that helps. it’s a good structure we set up.

      Thank you for your comment and forward is the only way to go 🙂 I agree

    2. Hanna D

      April 14, 2013 at 11:17 PM

      Hi There Sharon,

      I am a therapist and in fact it’s very common for a therapist and client to email. Some therapists trust it, some don’t like to cross that boundary, it all depends on the therapist, and sometimes it all depends on the boundary by the client and what feels right for them.

      I dont normally introduce email until I have worked with the client more, because I dont want the client hiding behind email, I want to talk in person. But there comes a time when email is very helpful between sessions like Karen said.

      I guess it’s just a matter of therapist boundaries or what they are comfortable with, but it’s not foreign, it’s become something that is more and more seen in the therapeutic field.


  • Hanna D

    April 14, 2013 at 11:14 PM

    Karen – great writing and I love the analogy of the whirlpool and current, that is a great way of looking at it. I tell my clients that when anything is distorted, the best way to restore it is by continuing to repeat the lie and then repeat telling what the truth is vs the lie that is heard about themselves. it takes work, but it can be reversed.

    I love this, and you are going in the right direction.


  • Leslie Neshama

    April 15, 2013 at 7:16 AM

    Hi Karen,

    Once again, you write bravely and courageously about your amazing Journey.

    I so identify with being a person who takes half when she is offered whole.

    It has been hard for me (and I am in my sixties now) to believe that I am a good human being. It is as if daily I have to re-build who I am, as if each interchange with other people challenges my Self. As if I do not have a constant Leslie – as if I continually have to gather all my strength to live each day.

    I don’t know if I am describing this well, expressing how I experience reality…….

    I am so very very grateful to you, for your blog, and for all who come here to comment and share.
    <3 <3 <3 <3

    1. KarenBeth

      April 15, 2013 at 10:21 AM

      Leslie … you are describing it perfectly.. funny when we share the same pain and experiences, we understand.

      Thank you so much for being a part of the blog, your words are always so kind 🙂 makes my Monday

  • Gel

    April 15, 2013 at 10:08 AM

    I’m reading and nodding and wishing you well on what is a profound journey you are on.

    About reversing the beliefs and, how did you put it?…..”taking those lies and reversing it. hearing what is truth vs what is a lie. Seeing what is real and knowing what is not”.

    Ah I wrote ‘beliefs’ instead of ‘lies’….Can you even tell what is a lie first? That is hard and maybe that’s where the therapist (or friend) can help….can’t change it until you can identify it.

    I’m noticing that some things I don’t see or hear in words or thoughts about myself. They are more in the form of attitudes about myself. An all pervasive feeling of being not OK, or being unworthy or being at fault. When it’s just an attitude and not in thoughts then it’s really hard to get a hold of to reverse.

    I’m feeling a little fuzzy this morning. Sorry if that didn’t make much sense.

    Blessings to you!

    1. KarenBeth

      April 15, 2013 at 10:25 AM

      Gel ..

      you making very much sense, and I believe you just had a freudian slip.. wanting to say something, but the truth really comes out about how you feel about yourself. That is truth my friend, and you struggle with it too it seems.

      it’s amazing on what abuse can do to someone that reverses the self worth so much that is becomes a huge obstacle in our lives. It’s frustrates me to no end.

      You know .. my support, my husband, my therapist will say good good things about me all the time. There are times in therapy that my therapist will spend a good portion of the session just telling me what kind of person I am, but you know what? no matter what is said, only I can change the way I see it. It has to be an inside job. I know deep inside that no one can change how I feel about myself except for me, and I guess well maybe that is where some of this inner healing comes in.. maybe this will help me to see what is truth an what is not 🙂

      hugs Gel.. it’s ok.. I am fuzzy too.. 2 hours of sleep and I have NO time for nappy today hehehe ((hugs))

  • GraceOverflowing

    April 15, 2013 at 12:00 PM

    Such a great post. I so know what you are talking about. I really enjoyed your analogy. It seems very fitting.

    1. KarenBeth

      April 15, 2013 at 6:43 PM

      Thank you … and nice to see you here 🙂 …. thank you for your comment 🙂 .. I love your username “graceoverflowing” …

  • ziggy40

    April 16, 2013 at 5:22 AM

    I really relate to this post, challenging long standing beliefs is REALLY hard work…be gentle with your, ‘inner self’, loving , compassion to you as you journey along. I’m in a similar place in therapy, it’s really confronting, I think though it, and, after the pain, the black clouds of facing it, may there be a colorful rainbow, freedom from the negative self ‘talk’…lol

    1. KarenBeth

      April 16, 2013 at 6:14 PM

      Ziggy… I love your responses 🙂 you always are positive 🙂 thank you for this 🙂 heheh

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