Carolena: I Now Have a Self
You can meet Carolena in our video.
I did not do this work because of an addiction that I was aware of. I didn’t do drugs, prescription or recreational, not even aspirin; I didn’t eat to comfort myself; and I didn’t gamble, not even the lottery. From the outside, it looked like I had it all, but inside I was a frightened, insecure, bitter woman.
I had been searching for my authentic self for a long time, a spiritual self. I had no sense of self, and I was truly lost. I was always looking outside myself for love, happiness, approval, acknowledgment. Surely someone or the next thing would eventually provide it. The opinions of others mattered a great deal to me, certainly more than my own.
I had been married for 13 years, and anger and resentment were growing inside me. Unfortunately, I was taking it out on my husband. I was mad if he helped and mad if he didn’t help. I asked his opinion and then was mad at the opinion he gave me. I was mad because he wasn’t reading my mind. I felt like I was being pulled in a million directions and the world did not value me. I was turning into my mother—there was always this underlying tension around her, you could feel it.
I was seriously considering therapy again. Surely someone else could tell me what was going on with me. But I hesitated because in the end, therapy hadn’t helped that much if at all. Yes, it gives you tools to use in certain situations, and sometimes it worked, but often not. I had several friends who were in therapy, and they weren’t doing much better than me.
A conversation with a very dear friend changed my life. I had been gossiping and complaining about a mutual acquaintance, and all of a sudden my friend held up her hand and said, “I don’t want to talk about this anymore. You complain about her over and over. What are you going to do about it?” I was stunned. What did this mean? I remember thinking, Don’t let her see how upset you are . . . is she ending our friendship over this? My friend had never spoken to me with such authority and conviction. No more commiserating with me.
She then shared with me the work she had been doing with Dr. Brown, and how the work had changed her life. She encouraged me to do the work myself. I was intrigued.
The result of the work exceeded any expectation I had at the beginning.
I had always felt small and vulnerable. Fear ruled my life. Everything I did or did not do was based in fear and self-doubt. What if I made the wrong choice? I constantly looked to others to tell me what to do; if it didn’t work out, it was their fault, not mine. The courage I have gained has given me the freedom to do what brings me joy. What others think, say, or do has no dominion over my decisions or actions. I no longer feel lost. My life is filled with profound gratitude and love for myself and others.
The work profoundly changed my marriage. The tension between us is gone, the fun and laughter have returned. My husband is no longer on edge when I am around. I know I am responsible for myself and my own happiness in this marriage.
Dr. Brown often reminded me, “You can only give what you have. If you are looking outside yourself to get your needs met, you are not giving anything, you’re bargaining.” I now have a self to bring to any situation I encounter, and I now know I have a lot to give.