I recently finalized a highly contentious divorce with an abusive spouse who used horrific tactics to emotionally abuse me, tear me down, turn people against me, and even take my son away for a period of time (using my mental health as an excuse, which is absolutely not a factor and was exacerbated by him). My parents have been on his side through the entire process and I have essentially cut them out of my life for the time being in order to attempt to heal from all of this. During the last part of our marriage, he used tracking devices on me, routinely went through my personal items and phone, and the divorce process intensified his verbal abuse, where I was regularly gaslighted and berated.

I now find myself second guessing everything I do. Work, personal life, literally everything is self-questioned. I am asking advice on things that I should (and do) already know the answer to because I simply don’t trust myself anymore. While I have good friends to lean on, I am struggling to reach out to them too often because I fear burning them out with my constant issues. Yes, I have discussed with my therapist, who is fantastic, but I am seeking a second opinion on things I can do to regain my self-confidence.

A. All of the questions that you have asked and the issues that you have raised, belong in and to the realm of counseling. A short-written answer could never satisfactorily serve as a “second opinion.” Your therapist should provide you relief from your problems. If he or she cannot advance you towards your goals, then you must find one who can. You say that you have “discussed” these things with your therapist. From the letter that you have written, it would seem that the issues raised deserve to be the main focus of your therapy. Are they? If not, why aren’t they? Are you being fully disclosing with your therapist?

I would like to have known why your parents chose to side with your ex-husband. You must realize, that this is highly unusual. Did he lie to them? Did he fool them into believing lies about you? And finally, what reasons did they give for siding with him?

Self-questioning is appropriate and advisable when you recognize that you have made mistakes. I don’t know you, and I certainly cannot render an opinion. Perhaps you have made mistakes and the self-questioning process that you are going through will help you to find insight and prevent you from making similar mistakes in the future. Or, perhaps you have made no mistakes at all and thus the self-questioning that you’re going through could not possibly be fruitful in helping you to prevent mistakes that never occurred.

Self-belief is different from self-confidence. You may believe that you could learn to fly an airplane. But how confident are you that you could jump into a small plane at a local airport, without any training, and successfully take off and land? Without lessons, you should have no confidence in your ability to do so. If you have great confidence, without having learned how to fly, you possess false confidence. Confidence can be correct or false. Overconfidence is harmful and is based on a misjudgment of reality. Under confidence is also wrong and is also based on an incorrect perception of what is real.

Abraham Maslow states that an optimist, is as equally wrong as a pessimist. Both have misjudged reality. Is the glass half full or half empty? What is the truth? What should you believe? In reality, 4 ounces in an 8-ounce glass is both half full and half empty. The optimist denies reality and so does the pessimist. The optimist denies that the glass is half empty and thus is wrong. The pessimist denies that the glass is half-full and thus is also wrong.

We must always judge reality correctly. If not, we will certainly pay for our mistakes.

The issues that you’ve raised are complex and deserve to be fully examined during the therapeutic process. They are deserving questions and I can fully understand your concern. No real help can come from having a question answered by a stranger on the Internet. Perhaps a little insight can be garnered but any real, significant, substantial help, can only come through adequate therapy. That is the path that you must pursue, in my most humble of opinions. I sincerely wish you good luck in your journey.

Dr. Kristina Randle