Do you know the difference between doubt and instincts?

Train me (1) To a healthy person the value of doubt is caution. Doubt is an instinct, it’s that niggle, the feeling in the pit of your stomach that warns you.  Instinct in an abused woman has lost its voice. If I felt that niggle telling me no, I ignored it. In part it’s a result of the constant criticism that I endured in my relationships. I had been called mad, paranoid, a liar and stupid and as a result I could never trust my instincts.

There was a wonderful description in “Women who Run with the wolves” where she describes this as having your instincts deadened. That’s exactly how it felt. When wolves are in crisis their instincts become deadened and as a result they do things that place the lives of the whole pack in danger. They, for example, take themselves into areas in which they will become locked in by snow and ice with no way out. When their instincts are deadened their lives are at risk. Need I say more?

When I started to heal and began listening to my instincts, doubt was so terrifying that  it paralyzed me. I had no idea how to cope with it. Doubt was my master. There is that expression in AA, sick and tired of being sick and tired. Well that’s how I felt about doubt incapacitating me. One of the challenges of working with my instincts was that it was almost like learning a new language. I had feelings of uneasiness and mistrust but didn’t know if it was an instinct or if I was just more fearful today than usual. Hope and fear make understanding instincts all the more difficult. Hope can feel like “having a good feeling” about something and fear can feel like the instinct that is warning you. It’s a slow process as is learning a new language – the language of the sixth sense.

It taught me to question my doubts and not accept them at face value. Sue talks about how we need to interrogate our thoughts. Well that’s what I did with my doubts. I also discovered that having a doubt is one thing but the meaning I gave the doubt was what incapacitated me. It was the meaning I had to interrogate and that’s what led me to The Work of Byron Katie.

The challenge for us all is to embrace an uncertain future being cautiously optimistic. When I have nothing concrete to hold onto I hold my belief that I can trust the Universe as my partner while I face and embrace my uncertain future. I love that line. It gives me the same comfort as it did when I got under the duvet with Osho at night. And the only reason I can put a positive spin on it because of Sue’s other line “you attract what you give out”. I proved that one true over and over again.



I was married to not one abuser, not two, but three. I fled from South Africa and from an extremely violent and traumatic marriage to a very well-known Johannesburg personality and resolved to learn a lesson and be more careful next time. In America I met a man who, on the surface, was everything that my second husband was not. Until I owned her own contribution to the dance of abuse I was destined to repeat the pattern. My story exists as proof of this. I am driven to help abused women as I know all too well what it feels like to be misunderstood and ashamed of my inability to let go of a relationship that was killing me. “It’s like wanting to hug a shark – why on earth would anyone do that?” I understand because I have been there, emerged damaged and broken from there and then – heaven forbid – went back! I know what it feels like to yearn for the love of a man who pulled out your hair, spat in your face and tried to choke you. I know what it feels like to tell people you are back there and watch their faces and see them thinking, “then you deserve what you get!” By telling my story, I hope to lift the veil of shame off abuse and encourage women to do the same. Un-silencing the voice is where true healing begins.

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Posted in abuse, codependency, domestic violence, gratitude, healing, love, obsession, relationships

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