What I Lack

We need to learn to stand before we walk, and walk before we run.

There are certain physical and psychological developments that occur when we are children, that happen naturally. Life’s experiences play a huge role in teaching us the things we need to learn in order to interact in the world. To feel safe and confident. To explore and take up space in the world and have a sense of confidence and belonging. So many things can go wrong at any point in our development that can have a huge impact later in life.

I am beginning to face something that is actually humiliating to admit. So much so that it has unconsciously caused me to avoid too many things in life. I am beginning to realize how big of an impact this has on my life even today. And it is also effecting my ability to feel safe in therapy. I have been feeling as though I would rather not do therapy than admit it or face it.

What I lack is the ability to say, “No!” or, “Stop!” or, “I need to slow down.” or “This hurts.” I just didn’t realize how huge of an issue it is for me. The few times I have been able to do this was wrought with a tremendous amount of anxiety afterward, not relief.

I have been conditioned since infancy that everyone else’s thoughts, feelings, and needs are all that matters. They are always more important than mine. Even if someone is hurting me, my instincts are to make them feel better. There are several things that happened to me when I was just a baby that may play a part in how deeply this effects me.

It isn’t just that I can’t say no or how I feel, it is that there is a tremendous amount of anxiety attached to it. So I can’t win. I either suffer silently, which has always been the safest bet, or suffer tremendous anxiety if I choose to try to exist. I was forced to choose to suffer silently for most of my life. It is all that I know.

I have been able to hide this so well. I have even denied it to myself. It is very painful to face.

Because I am calm and articulate, it is easy for others to miss as well. Unless they are a predator. It even confuses my husband at times. It has been hard for him to grasp. He witnesses how paralyzing it can be. I think it is hard to fathom what life is like without these basic fundamental tools to survive in life.

It is a crazy and horrible existence to have to hide because you lack the basic defenses; going through life never knowing at what point you could become paralyzed and unable to protect yourself from the most minor infractions.

People who tell those of us who have been victimized that we are strong and to not be afraid, have no idea the gravity of this issue for us. Who wants to admit that they are afraid? It is easier to just avoid people and circumstances than to face this tormenting monster that always hangs over us.

This is why I cringe inside when someone tells me that I am strong. It almost has the opposite effect. It makes me want to hide more rather than admit what I am admitting here.

I need, somehow, to learn these basic skills in order to continue with therapy. Otherwise I am left feeling as though I don’t have any control of or over my own life. I am beginning to understand how so many of the things that happened to me happened so easily.

This is embarrassing because these are things I should have learned as a child. When everyone either leaves you or does not want you, how do you learn anything other than the fact that what you want or need does not matter?

I don’t know how you learn these basic skills when all you know to do is hide the fact that you can’t do certain things. This has been a huge ongoing misunderstanding for those who see me as strong and capable. Every time a conversation comes up regarding my strength or courage, instead of being encouraged, I just shrink a little more inside of myself.

I can’t seem to get others to understand the gravity of this issue. So there has been no way of getting help. If anyone could truly grasp the reality of an existence like this, they would not be challenging or dismissing me so easily. It is actually quite heartbreaking.

It seems to be too hard for others to grasp. It is like one of those things that would be easier for people to assume you’re joking than to actually take it in and feel it. And because of this it is easier for me to just dismiss it myself.

I need to learn to stand before I can walk, and walk before I can run. Otherwise I am not fit to exist in this world. And hiding will remain my only option.

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14 thoughts on “What I Lack

  1. Oh blue sky I can so understand that dreadful feeling when people tell you “You have so much courage” “You’re so strong”. When all you want to do is curl up and die by a roadside. Thanks for sharing this. I too have an absolute inability to ask for what I want–but I’ve started trying with small things that don’t matter and building from there….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am hoping the fact that I was able to admit it and finally realize how big of a problem it is, there will be a way to begin trying to change. This probably seems so simple to many people. But it is quite emotional for me. And maybe it has many layers. I am sure it is all rooted in fear. You sharing your experience means a lot. Especially since it is such an isolating feeling. Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Blue Sky, those of us who
    understand your thoughts
    expressed, have walked in
    your shoes.
    Early on, my very 1st good
    therapist told me repeatedly
    that I was one of his greatest
    actresses as a patient.
    Took more attempts to get
    better. To be honest, and
    toss all that pain between us.
    If I remember correctly, you
    have a good therapist that you
    trust. Stay the course, those
    demons can lose their power.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your experience. There is a great deal of fear and sorrow behind why we struggle with this. I do need to know that it is possible to live differently. Yes, I do have a good therapist. The fear of facing this reality almost made me run. Again, thank you! I appreciate your thoughts very much!

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  3. I understand all too well what you are saying. I suffered abuse and trauma as a child and into early adulthood. And here I am at the age of 50 still working through a lot of what you share in your post. Especially the part where you said

    “It isn’t just that I can’t say no or how I feel, it is that there is a tremendous amount of anxiety attached to it. So I can’t win. I either suffer silently, which has always been the safest bet, or suffer tremendous anxiety if I choose to try to exist. I was forced to choose to suffer silently for most of my life. It is all that I know.”

    That resonates so much with me, I have that same struggle. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is sad to hear! I am sorry you have suffered so. It means a lot that you understand. It is almost easier to share our stories than to admit to or face this result of abuse. It is making me grieve and ask myself what am I so afraid of now… still, after all this time. This is a secret we keep from ourselves because we know we shouldn’t feel this way, but we do and are helpless to change it. It is hard to imagine what life could be like without this burden. Thank you so much for sharing your experience and thoughts!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I have been thinking about this post for several days. I understand your fear and anxiety as I have had in huge amounts with my therapist and still days of this when any trust issues come up. I’m sorry I don’t have any words of wisdom just please know I see your pain and fears and am thinking about you. Going to therapy is such a painful process just dealing with our past but when you mix in what you are talking about it makes things even more difficult.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for letting me know that you understand. From this post, I have uncovered why this is so deep in me. A place that has not even been on my radar because there were too many other scars and wounds that crowded it out. Not going forward with EMDR right now and going slower will hopefully help. You do encourage me because I know your struggle in this area is similar and going slow has helped you. Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. “When everyone either leaves you or does not want you, how do you learn anything other than the fact that what you want or need does not matter?”

    Yes, we know nothing different…

    I am sitting here quite stunned after reading this. A million lightbulbs just turned on…or maybe just got brighter and hotter to grab my attention better.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It breaks my heart that you share this same pain and intensity. I have spoken the words before, but I have never faced the gravity of it. And through writing this, I discovered where the deepest pain started… and this wasn’t even on my radar. It is comforting that you understand. For those that don’t, it seems simple or crazy. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That feeling of “crazy” is intense for me right now as I have to sort everything out and face the realities that I never realized were not “normal.” I think the hardest part of that is knowing you have to change something but not knowing how…because what needs to added in life is completely unknown. I do think a simple start though is using the word no.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I can relate to this on many levels. I often have insight on what the problem is, but no clue on how to fix it.

          However, for you this must be magnified because it is much harder to see and face things when you are still in the midst of the craziness. It is difficult to see how crazy “normal” can become.

          When you have fulfilled a certain role in life, like being passive, and then try to say no, be prepared for push back. But most importantly for you is to make sure you are in a safe environment so that you don’t incur any further harm. Staying safe until you can be free needs to be your goal. No one should expect you to be tough if it could put you in danger. If and when you decide to get out, you need to plan your escape. But certainly in small safe ways we need to practice with people we feel safe with.

          You might be surrounded by craziness, but you are not crazy!

          Liked by 1 person

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