When Positives Become Negatives


I was a good little girl. I was well behaved and well mannered. I did whatever I was told to do. I never broke the rules or cheated. I have always had a very sensitive spirit. Quite frankly, I have always been afraid to do the wrong thing. Terrified actually!

I am sure a great deal of this stemmed from needing to hide the abuse that was going on in my life from a young age. I desperately needed to try not to draw any attention to myself. It wasn’t just the abuse I was hiding, it was myself. It is a huge struggle needing to be loved and accepted while hiding at the same time.

I married a psychopath at a young age. Which didn’t leave any room for me or my children to exist. It was easy to not even recognize the fact that I lost myself. I felt an overwhelming need to present a perfect exterior to the world to cover up the life we lived behind closed doors. The fact that he was a pastor for several of these years only added to this pressure.

I had to continue to be perfect! I can’t tell you the pressure this placed on my already sensitive spirit.

Yesterday I had a long conversation with my husband regarding several observations he has made relating to my responses to different situations. One was related to how I respond to questions. I have this immediate response to questions, often unconsciously with the opposite of what I really feel, want, or need.

For instance, if we are driving in the car and my husband reaches for the A/C switch and asks me if I am hot; I will immediately respond, “No!” And then just as quickly tell him that, “Yes, I am,” which is the accurate answer. This has happened more times than I can count to the questions he asks me.

The other very bizarre example I can give is when I go to see an optometrist. I get anxiety over the doctor asking “Which is better, one or two?” I am so afraid of saying the “wrong” answer. It is very overwhelming. One time the doctor got frustrated with me and I was very embarrassed. At that time I had no clue what was going on or why.

While we have often laughed about these situations, it is actually quite sad. It has puzzled both of us for a very long time.

I was very emotional during this conversation and trying to explain to him the anxiety that I have during these situations. At one point he looked at me and said, “I wonder if it is because the people in your life have always made you feel that the things you say are wrong, so you became afraid of your answers.” It seems crazy to be filled with such anxiety over just being asked a question. I answer without even thinking so that it will all just be over quickly. I am too afraid of being wrong or of being made fun of.

The other issue we discussed was related to my responses to positive remarks I receive from others. He pointed out that I often respond to positive remarks with my brain turning them into a negative. I was very emotional and at one point I blurted out, “Because I had to be so perfect my whole life and positive remarks feel like an expectation to be perfect. While I am trying so hard not to feel like I need to be perfect.” It is a very deep struggle.

This even affects my ability to communicate through writing and speaking about my struggles with my past… because it isn’t perfect! It causes me a great deal of anxiety.

I don’t know what the answer is to either of these. But at least I now have a clue why I do these things. I am hoping a therapist will understand the deeper reasons of why and how to overcome them. It isn’t just the things that I do that are so painful. It is the deep, deep underlying anxiety and feelings that cause me to do them in the first place that are very hard to process.