Okay, so! I have recently discovered that I have ‘shitty values’ because I measure my personal worth depending on how apparent it is that I experienced an abusive and neglectful childhood. Now don’t get me wrong, I understand there are much worse things to value. My issue is that once I finished reading Mark Manson’s ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck’ I was giving more f*cks than ever about my Complex PTSD and feeling much more anxious than I had for some time.
It had been made obvious to me that everything I have used to push me forward in life was based on creating a well intended false identity, reinforced by how well received this was by others. I mean really, I’m even guilty of giving the power of my self worth to the checkout chick at my local grocery store. What a ridiculous burden for that innocent girl! Not only does she have no idea about me or my life, she rightfully shouldn’t have to consider me at all. Breaking down that ‘shitty value’ of what others think of me makes it all too clear that I was suffering a strange form of self importance.
To delve into my twisted values further, I will continue with deconstructing the questions I regularly ask myself when I am out of my ‘personal’ comfort zone:
Do I look/ speak/ act like someone who’s family didn’t love them unconditionally? How can I prove that I am a well adjusted, regular person in society? What will I say when the inevitable discussion of family comes up? Will it make people feel uncomfortable if I am honest? If I were honest would they think less of me? How should I pretend none of this is important?
My list of insecure questions goes on and on and on so we won’t run out of topics here. These are simply the strongest and most instantaneous of my self-doubt questionnaire. Firstly, it’s worth mentioning that my ‘personal’ comfort zone was a tiny space hidden deeply inside my own mind, which with the help of my psychologist is growing to a much more reasonably sized space of comfort. We are even now building room for the concept of external support! To me this actually is revolutionary progress, conceptual as it may be.
So, to break down this messy, instantaneous cluster of thoughts from the beginning…
Do I look/ speak/ act like someone who’s family didn’t love them?
No. I Don’t. I know this now because how the heck can every abused or neglected child look a certain way? Are we supposed to look like homeless people as I imagined? If so, what does that say for the hipster movement? Aren’t they supposed to be spoiled millennials? Only the first of those questions are worth an answer, which is abused children don’t and never will look the same. Some are from wealthy families, some are from loving families, some are living in poverty or don’t have a family at all. Not to mention the basic cultural and racial influences.
But in all seriousness, I used to believe that I didn’t look this way because I worked in expensive clothing stores for several years before I started university. I chose to work at these stores specifically because I assumed good people wear expensive clothes (as I’m writing this I cringe at seventeen year old me being so shallow- but I’m sure there’s much more of this to come). I also wanted to immerse myself in the company of successful people. Which in my eyes were the people who were buying expensive clothes. I was still at the emotional place of believing ‘people like me don’t belong in the realm of success’ among other shallow perspectives of my own insecurities. So rather than face the seemingly simple reality that these were just insecurities, I allowed my fear to establish alternative facts and override any deeper relationships or opportunities to meet people.
The next issue was to train myself to speak like these obviously successful people, which didn’t feel so difficult as I’ve always been an avid reader and never indulged the vulgar nature of my parents way of speaking, ie; I didn’t use profanity and tried to avoid as much ‘Aussie twang’ as possible. Yes, I had decided in my young mind that successful people only spoke with clever words and reserved accents. Co-workers at my first job were what people might call ‘spoiled, rich, daddies girls’ (embarrassingly this was another of my superficial values of success).
They were friendly and educated and partied as newly ‘grown up’ girls do, most of which spoke with an incredible amount of profanity. But how could these girls be swearing and partying as well as being so fortunate as I had decided they were? Did they take it for granted? Would they become careless parents as well? Yes, those are the things I questioned. Completely ignoring the idea that perhaps they just placed more importance on different values. And not even considering that I had been the one who created a version of their lives filled with overflowing amounts of love and opulence.
I didn’t even take the time to get to know people because I was so afraid they would figure out I was ‘worthless’. It all just made me feel uncomfortable, so I decided that mixing workplace relationships with personal relationships was never a good idea, even within my highly professional workplace as a retail assistant. At the time I was entirely oblivious to how inconvenient my preconceptions of success and ‘social classes’ were, and didn’t begin to question these values at all until a few years ago. Instead I would alienate myself from many people simply because I was afraid that letting go would corrupt my integrity and disclose my biggest secret- that I am the victim of childhood abuse.
And then there’s the act. How does one act like they have experienced a loving, supportive childhood? That was my toughest question of all. And it will take some time to untangle my alternative facts with a realistic answer to an unrealistic question. To be continued…
Warm regards, xxx