Filling The Well
My therapist and I work hard together to maintain my mental health. For a period of time, during a relationship break up that was nasty, I felt like I was not gaining any traction or getting anywhere positive. She said something that I have never forgotten and that was “You have an empty well that will take time to fill”.
I’m not the most patient person sometimes, especially when it comes to myself. My mind often wants to get things going quickly and be a “fixer”. Knowing I had that empty well to fill was a hard realization as I knew it would take more time than I wanted. This is the frustrating part of mental illness for me; I want it fixed now! The reality is my well had been running dry for many years without me knowing it. Being in a mentally abusive relationship will do that to you. For six years the water in my well had been draining slowly and, as we know, those slow leaks don’t always get noticed right away. By the time I did realize what was happening, my self-confidence had dipped so low and I was so far down the well it felt like there was no way out. Every once and awhile someone would drop down a bucket on a rope but when I tried to grab it, I couldn’t hold on.
Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse in which a person turns things around to make it your fault; to make you doubt your judgement, memory or perception. It is a concerted effort to destabilize a person through denial, manipulation, belittling, and disorientation. For six years I lived with that in secret. Very few people even knew about the relationship, let alone what was happening inside of it. By year five I tried multiple times to end it however this man kept pulling me back in using all the tricks of gaslighting. I didn’t want to believe it was as bad as it was. I didn’t want to believe I could be manipulated like that. I didn’t want to think I was one of those people who got caught in the abuse trap. I kept telling myself that he didn’t hit me, he didn’t threaten me, he wasn’t sexually violent as my past relationship had been. Was he really that bad?
When it comes to relationships, I’ve always had low self-esteem and part of me believed I couldn’t do any better than this man. That’s a hard thing to admit openly but there it is. He could sense it and he preyed upon it. I know this now because I have spent the last year working hard to refill my well. I’m grateful for those who never stopped dropping the bucket down because finally I was able to pull myself and out of that dark and dirty hole. I came out with bumps and bruises and scrapes, but I came out of it!
If you are in that hole, know there is a way out and you are strong enough to do so. In the light of day, although I am sad at the time lost, I’m also proud of how far I’ve come. I’ve grown and am learning to love myself. This isn’t a period of my life which I am proud of but it is something that I will grow and learn from so it never happens again. My well may never be completely full again, however it will NEVER be as empty as it once was.