Saying Hullo Again - You're Better Than You Think You Are

I was reading a collection of papers by Michael White, and this particular set of paragraphs left daggers in my heart. I'm sharing it on here because I think that a lot of the people who find their way onto EP are the sorts of people who have been through the ringer in life, and that a lot of those people will be able to relate to this - if not directly, than to the basic concepts addressed:

Excert from:
"Saying Hullo Again:
The incorporation of the lost relationship in the resolution of grief
By Michael White - published in the Dulwich Centre Newsletter, Spring, 1988"

-Adult Self Abuse-

"I have introduced a variation of this work to women and men who, as a result of emotional and/or physical abuse during childhood and adolescence, maintain a very negative and rejecting attitude towards themselves in adult life. This self-rejection is the outcome of their incorporation of the abusing adult/s' attitude towards them.

These persons cannot rest. They feel perpetually compelled to operate upon and discipline their self according to the abuser's attitudes. They are unable to trust any of the more personally favourable versions of their self that they might encounter through life.

It is helpful to invite these persons to attend to those unique outcomes that identify recent occasions during which they were able to treat themselves with a fraction of 'self-acceptance', or occasions during which they protested their submission to the dominant specifications of self that were established by the abuser.

Once a unique outcome has been identified, questions can be introduced that encourage a specific recounting of childhood and adolescent experiences, one of self-acceptance or protest. Efforts are also made to pinpoint the person's age at the time of these historical episodes. Further questions are then helpful in assisting these persons to revise their relationship with their self:

If you were looking at yourself through the eyes of that ten-year-old boy right now, what would he be seeing in you that he would really appreciate?
What is it about the development of you as a person that would be most important to him?
Noticing this, would he encourage you to try to be someone else, or would he take you for who you are?
Why do you think he would have liked you for a parent?
What difference do you think it would have made to his life if he'd had you for a parent?
What could you do to side with this ten you old boy's attitude towards you, rather than ... (the abusing adult's) attitude?
What difference would this make in your relationship with yourself, to how you would treat yourself?

The responses to these questions contribute to the reclaiming of, and to the performance of, alternative self-knowledges, and to the forging of a new relationship with self through an experience of 'self-specification'.


The 'saying hullo' metaphor is also appropriate in circumstances where there has been a loss of a relationship that has not been incurred by death. Often, such a loss is devastating to the person who did not initiate the separation and who wanted to persist with the relationship.

One common reaction is for these persons to feel betrayed by their partner, and to submit to extraordinary self-doubt. At times, this is associated with an intoxicating self-righteous anger. These responses usually relate to a new perception that they were never really loved by the other, but 'just strung along'. I refer to this new perception as the 'second story'.

When these responses persist, questions can be introduced that bring the 'first story' - the one that includes the experience of being a lovable person - out from the shadow of the second story; questions that invite the incorporation of the first story, and an active co-operation with it. Successful incorporation resolves the self-doubt and self-righteous anger."

Those who know me well probably have a good idea why these articles hit so close to home for me. I often find myself sabotaging relationships, questioning the intentions of others, and wondering why the hell anyone could see anything worthwhile in me. I'm a broken sinner who isn't worth a damn, so of course anyone I meet will leave me soon enough. Of course they have bad intentions - no one's going to bother spending time with me except to use me.

It's not true of course - my actions have been good. I'm not the person I used to be. I've moved on with my life, I'm 10 times more independent than before, I'm acting less and less selfishly while simultaneously becoming more and more authentic, reaching out in life despite my fears, slowly inching forward in every area of life, etc etc. Heh - logic doesn't work so well when my parent's view of me is so damn sticky. I'll get there, I think the process outlined in this paper will help, and I hope this blog/story can help other people realize that their self-view is out of touch with the good person they are, and that this view doesn't have to limit them, nor does it have to stick around for long.
MovingForward28 MovingForward28
26-30, M
Jul 28, 2010