Sunday, September 19, 2010

My Self is in here somewhere

This weekend I came across a new blog, a woman who dealt with her husband’s addiction. I won’t get into her story much, because it is her story, but so many of the things that she was going through during her letting go of him resonated so much with me. To put it briefly, her story validated my feelings.

And during my process of working through my emotions (that were very confusing to me), I thought it was not all that healthy for me to need someone else to validate my feelings. After all, that is part of my “issue”, not believing in my own thoughts, feelings and instincts. Looking outward for validation and proof of value is exactly what got me into that situation in the first place. Which, granted is true enough; however I have learned through this women’s blog that it is okay to want and have your feelings validated … especially when you can’t yet do it for yourself. I think she learned this as part of a Trauma Response Therapy.

And maybe it is okay that I want someone to validate me, and that it’s not because I am just weak and have low self-esteem. If we didn’t get the validation we needed in childhood, then how the hell can we know how to validate ourselves?

Looking back on my childhood, although not tragic at all (and I thought pretty damn good, until I was faced with some of my dormant emotions in the past few years that came from relationships with two dysfunctional people, one with a past addiction problem and the other...just a loser, drinking problems and perhaps a mental illness. I haven’t talked about him here because I wasn’t in love with him, but his fucked up behaviours and meanness to me AFTER I broke it off is what woke up these dormant wounds and hidden beliefs of low self-worth in the first place.I was still working through these feelings when I met my last ex, so it is no wonder I found someone dysfunctional).

Anyway, as I was saying, my thoughts and feelings were never validated when I was young. If I was crying (which I seemed to have done a lot of, including classic temper tantrums), I was told to stop it or don’t be silly. No one tried to understand why I may have been feeling this way…I was just a suck and a cry baby. Oh I heard those ones a lot. I did have three older sisters after all – whom I love and adore! So I believed this about myself.

I looked to my older sisters to tell me what I should be thinking because apparently my thinking was wrong, definitely confused I’m sure from living with a hot-tempered alcoholic father. If my thinking differed from theirs, then I was told I didn’t know what I was talking about because I am younger than them, or my thoughts were just weird. I believed this about myself.

The way I behaved was wrong or inappropriate, was the message I got from my parents. My Mom, from her own upbringing I guess, was always concerned about what other people thought so I always had to act a certain way. If my behaviours brought attention, then I was told I was wrong. I learned to always please others, to change the way I am to fit others sensibilities. I also learned from this, that other people are better than me. I believed this about myself.

From my Father, oh the things I have learned from him that I never knew I learned from him until I went through this dark journey. I learned how to behave from his moods. His drunken outbursts at any time taught me that whatever I did was wrong, therefore something was wrong with me. It taught me that whatever I did was not good enough and I was bad, therefore I was not good enough. I felt ashamed of who I was. Or at the other spectrum, he could be in a jovial, fun mood and would engage me in play. I just didn’t know how to act. My actions would be the same but his responses would change. Although not much of this is clear in conscious memory, but I can surmise that I learned how to be and what I believe about myself  from him just by knowing the way he was and how I became.

I became a people-pleaser and would change who I was so not to be criticized or humiliated for who I really was. I  became afraid of any confrontation. I became untrusting of my own thoughts and feelings because, well, I was taught by both actions and words, not to believe them. I learned that other people were more important than me and definitely better than me. I internalized it all and came to conclusions about who I was. I became a victim, powerless, weak, timid and self doubting.

My self-expression was lost. I was afraid to show and be who I really was. The little girl who was so funny, self-expressive, affectionate, a ham, an attention-getter as I was told I was ….and I remember that as well, and I am still that way when someone gets to know me well and I feel safe enough to be me, was gone. By the time this happy-go-lucky little girl went to school, she was shy, nervous, withdrawn and stuttered (so stated in my report card that I found in recent years)…and I was still peeing the bed.

So where did this expressive, charming, happy girl go to?

I have been uncovering the answer to this - a question that I hadn’t even thought of asking myself - since I fell into this dark emotional abyss after my break up. And that is probably why I have held on to the story for so long. I am finding me through this.


  1. Very expressive and so clear as always SB. Dysfunctional traits can be interesting from a far but up front have the desperation in tow which often leaves us lifeless...

  2. i read this before work and promised i'd come home to re-read it as you really struck a chord when i took this in. being divorced from an addict, having a father as an addict, and a mother and sister who ganged up on the 'crybaby' thing to me as well, i feel like we should just go for a drink, girl!!!!

    you know it's funny, in my 20's i did personality testing and it said i was an ENTP. total crap but what i thought i should be rather than who i really was. now in my 30's i re-tested as INFJ - the real me, the childhood me, the smart girl, the fearless girl, the happy-go-lucky. and it's helped me so much in remembering to chase that inner GIRL, rather than whatever we had originally started shaping ourselves to be based on THEM.

    get fierce, my sister. conquer the fucking world - its YOURS. xoxo.

  3. Thanks EG. I can't say I have too much experience with an active an adult, except for my last relationship with someone who did have those issues in his past before I met him. Although substance wasn't his issue anymore, something seemed off about his thinking and behaviours. I guess that is the psyche of an addict! Funny, I am an INFJ too! We should go for drinks. Take that train up here to Vancouver. Thanks for reading.

    GF: righto about the "dysfunctional" behaviours being intriguing at first glance, but fucked up when you get close :)

  4. It's so difficult to be 100% oneself when one has been burdened with all those influences, directly or indirectly...

    I can relate so much to all this you've written here. I did not have a nice childhood, the last of four, who cried and cried and nobody knew why, for my health was in perfect condition...

    The problem I later knew, was I felt nobody loved me, people seemed to reject me, especially cause I cried... a whirlwind, which still influences in my present life, when I cry and I don't know why... but of course if I analize I get the answers... Childhood stays with you all your life, it's the root of the tree which grows later on...

    I think my poem today is going to be about this.

    Hugs honey!

  5. You have such great insight and I relate a lot to your words...