So I’ve taken November as a chance to brush up on some self loving by diving head first back in to the self development journey – for me, this is a journey that comes around maybe once a year or every 18 months, usually when I go through some sort of mild trauma with work, friendships, my relationship or even after a failed attempt at scrambling through a depressive episode. This time, it came from a very unexpected moment I had last week where I had a situation which made me feel rejected.
Now I write this from the deepest pits of myself when I say that the R word is a very touchy subject for me – to write about, talk about and in many ways to even privately think about. There are not many posts I have done in my time of blogging which has explored this topic within myself, naturally I shy (run, scream) away from it. Unfortunately, it was how I responded to this situation when it came about frightened me enough to force sit myself down and have a stern word with myself and it went along the lines of ‘Hey, okay now, that’s not normal, you need to stop pretending and work on this now. You are ready.’
I am not ready, I never will be ready, but if I never make myself ready I will always, always struggle with this. Hence, going into an anxiety fuelled frenzy with the self-development books, the audios and the daily self talks. It sounds bananas, but I feel it will do me the world of good, and it’s what I have probably needed for a long time. I have been well and on a pretty stable road to recovering from the trauma of what was from my earlier years, and one of the set backs of being stable for an amount of time is that you tend to take it for granted, which is exactly what I have been doing for the past few years. You could imagine the shock in me when this huge tangled mass of feelings came up out of nowhere from one incident.
There were tears, there was sobbing, there was panic, frustration, anger. There was zero control, over my thoughts, my actions. There was confusion, memory loss and a splitting of myself – one that was trying to calm myself down and the other absolutely ranging out of control. It was like 31 year old me fell right back down to early childhood again, it was as close as to what you describe to a child not getting their own way and having a tantrum.
‘Children act like this. Babies… act like this!‘ I found myself thinking a few days later when I started coming around a little. Why would a grown woman have such a reaction in a way that it actually frightened herself and the people around her?
I was so upset over the whole scenario because I was actually mortified that I still had it in me to behave in that way. I thought this was a thing of the past and that I had made through to the other side and I was over it now. Nope, still there. She was still there inside me, she had just been dormant all this time. But why was she still there? Had I actually never healed?
I have listened to a lot of self discovery podcasts over the past week, at first just as a distraction for anxiety before I realised that I was probably benefitting from listening to them and taking the lessons on board. I have read a lot about co-dependency, the ego and self soothing. The need for control is one thing that I have always had a strange relationship with, and I do feel myself fight when things don’t go the way I planned them out in my head. Usually, I can talk myself around and out of my initial reaction to say ‘but I don’t want, it shouldn’t be, it needs to be…’ But what do you do when you combine that need for control with something that bruises your own ego, hurts your confidence and pretty much goes against everything you believe you are wired to be?
As I’ve explored my thoughts, I have to admit that I have placed a lot of my own self worth on external ideas and concepts, these are usually the ideas of other people. I am only worthy if it is in somebody else’s eyes. If somebody loves me. If someone finds me desirable. I am a failure of a daughter if I do not make my parents proud. I am a failure of a parent if my child does not want to spend time with me. I am a failure of a woman if I cannot make a man happy. I seek validation from other people, rather than learning how to validate myself.
Where has all that come from? Is it too late to mend this?
I believe that my rejection issues do stem from growing up, and the experiences I have faced along the way. To add to the fire, I was painfully shy as a child. For as far back as I can remember. I do not know why this was, or where it came from. I could not understand it myself. But I know I got to the point where I couldn’t even speak out, to my family, to my peers. In class. And then, when I later experienced pain, I could not speak about that either. So I learned to supress it and use external factors to soothe myself, instead of learning how to successfully self-soothe.
Fear of rejection from an external source of soothing/validation and not having the skills to ‘soothe and release’ your pain in a natural way are a dangerous concoction. And if you do not release that pain then it simply builds up. You take a dummy away from a baby, it does not know what to do with itself. And if you cant speak out about your issues either, then well! You are left with nobody to tell you that you are good enough and challenge your negative beliefs about yourself because there is not a soul on Earth who is aware there that you have a problem. I’ve had that painful voice in my head saying ‘you are not good enough, you are stupid, you are unworthy’ and I could not talk for someone to turn to me and say ‘are you sure about that?’
Nowadays, as an adult I am not as shy and reserved as I was but I do believe that I still look to others for validation. I am co-dependant, in a lot of areas of my life, I know I am. I especially know this now I have been researching it. There was an interesting concept which I picked up by listening to one of the podcasts I was enjoying about a theory of co-dependency. The theory goes, that co-dependant traits fall on a spectrum, with co-dependency being on one end and narcissism on the other. Piggy backing along with those traits, you have a person on the co-dependency side who has an underdeveloped ego, and a person on the narcissistic side with an over inflated ego. People who learn to control and handle their emotions fall somewhere nicely in the middle. Narcissists will always, always fault their externals, they cannot place blame or punishment on themselves. Co-dependents will look for blame internally.
I often feel that suppressing pain has developed another persona inside me. A nasty, irrational persona who will burst out, full of everything that has built up over years and years of self hatred and bad habits, and my rational mind can’t handle it when she does come out. But being the wild mix of introvert/self conscious/underinflated me, guess who takes the sharpest end of the knife when these outbursts happen?
I do. I hurt myself. Punish myself. Blame myself.
And hurting myself, I also hurt the people who love me.
That mega intense energy of pure hate will never, ever be a solution to my recovery. It just won’t. And if I don’t address it and dive deeper in to why I react so badly to rejection where I am basically changing my sense of self in reaction to it, I will have to live with those extremes in the long run.
Do I really want that? No, I don’t want that.
What can I do about it? I have to face up to it.
I love my life now, I really do. I am in the position where I can honestly say that after years of never being happy and just not wanting to be here. My life is not perfect by ANY means, but I am so grateful for where I am and how far I have come to get to this point, and I do feel like there is much more waiting for me in the future. I am excited by this. But self care and personal development never ends and it’s painful. I can forgive myself for my outburst, because forgiveness is a tool I have built up and learned over the years now to implement in myself. That’s the first step of figuring this all out I suppose.
Image credits: youseff naddam, unsplash.com