I would invite you to read each Part of this article series. To read Part 1, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7 and Part 8 of the article please click on these links: Part 1, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7 and Part 8.
As I shared in Part 1 of this series, I spent quite a bit of time attempting to make other people OK with me by doing more, to be more in my attempt to be enough. I did so through attempting to live up to other people’s expectations of me. I also attempted to do so through taking care of people emotionally so that they would not blame or shame me. I strove to do so all the more to avoid being criticized by literally everyone in my life. In my defense for not getting it “right, an assignment” I thought I needed to constantly apologize. I did so by saying, “I am sorry”. I said that I was sorry so many times that my 9th grade English teacher assignment to write, “I am sorry” 500 times. And so, at home; I wrote, “I am sorry” 500 times. I took the list of, “I am sorry”, into to class the next day. I do not know what he did with the list, but the assignment did little to change my belief that I needed to apologize for not being enough.
The assignment did little to change anything, as I continued to believe that I deserved to be shamed, blamed and criticized. Shame blame, and criticized for not living up to the “expectations”. The expectation to make everyone and everything OK. At least, as I shared in Part 1 of this article; so that I could hope to feel safe and secure with myself.
Note: At the age of 10 I was in an automobile accident with my family. The accident resulted in my sustaining an open skull fracture, a severe brain injury with right frontal lobe damage and a severe brain bruise with brain stem involvement. I also fractured my left femur (thigh bone) on my Dad’s bucket seat as I was thrown forward, upon impact; to the windshield. I remained in a coma for 3 weeks and in traction for 6-7 weeks before being placed in a full body (Spica) cast. After my external wounds healed and I was able to begin walking, talking, reading, writing and speaking in complete sentences the impact or my traumatic brain injury remained invisible. Because the impact was no longer considered, I joined in with the chorus of people who criticized me for not meeting expectations. What I did not know, at the time and for many years; was that I have I had an invisible disability. An invisible disability that would make reading people and situations more difficult. An invisible disability that would make me vulnerable.
The ongoing conditioning led me to believe that I did not just make mistakes, but that I was a mistake. Nevertheless, I strove all the more to gain the approval of virtually everyone. I did so through people pleasing, approval seeking and attempting to mind-read. None of these strategies worked to satisfy and appease, but only reinforced my sense of inadequacy. My sense of inadequacy, coupled with my low self-esteem and poor self-worth left me believing that I deserved to be abused and bullied. Abused and bullied by the people who shamed, blamed and criticized me for not meeting expectations. In response, I acquired an overdeveloped sense of responsibility. In my overdeveloped sense of responsibility, I set out each day in an attempt to meet everyone’s expectations. In the process of attempting to meet everyone’s expectations, I set unrealistic expectations for myself.
Although being able to meet “everyone’s” expectations was clearly unrealistic, at the time; I believed that my very life depended upon my ability to meet those expectations. The belief that my life depended upon meeting expectations set me up to be bullied and abused directly and indirectly by other people. The belief also set me up to bullied and abused by myself. Bullied and abused by myself as I strove to meet, but found myself unable to meet many expectations. Bullied and abused, as I criticized and berated myself for not being able to do more, to do enough, to be enough.
But I am glad that I did not give up. More would be revealed to me in time.
To read Part 3 of this article series, please click on this link: Part 3
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