The nice thing about actually feeling safe enough to get things out of my head is that I can then make progress in picking them apart. It’s a fresh angle, still mainly untainted by tsking and commiseration and pissing contests over who has it worse. Not that I have any qualms with sharing and discussing with friends what is going on in my head, in their heads, etc – I just like having my own space to do it without the pressure to y’know… be part of anything?
So yesterday I had commented that I find bigging oneself up abhorrent, though I did follow that up with a heart-felt assertion that it’s not wrong if that’s how you operate. I did manage to pick a few bits out of that – that fishing for accolades seems very crack-nuggety, and I avoid anything drug-like (been there, done that, never again please!). You get a happy little fix from persons X and Y saying Z, and some folks bend it way out of shape with the fishing, building their entire sense of self up on the opinions of others. I do find that specifically repugnant, and how it breaks the average person so that they are quick to quip a compliment out of… fear? Duty? Societal pressure to conform to a somewhat unhealthy pattern? It’s in part why I abhor compliments in general – I’m not calling myself fat so you can tell me I’m pretty; I am stating that my BMI is in the fat range. If I am saying that I am dumb, it’s intended to express that I did something that I consider dumb, oh well, end of story.
Though having said that, I do enjoy compliments… just rarely to never on my appearance. Tell me I’m funny, tell me I’m smart – never tell me I’m pretty. I know I am at current, but I also know that beauty fades. While the current societal trend is that we should all be panicking and try to stay 20-something forever, I’m quite happy to say I’m 30. I’m quite happy to accept that I will fall apart in time, no matter how well I try to hold myself together. Accepting that inevitability… it’s good for the soul; it’s release.
But still, that doesn’t get to the crux of the issue – I cannot ask for these affirmations. Besides the drug-like nature of it, my parents were incredibly inconsistent with giving me positive messages. The body image, for example – they would go on and on about how pretty I was, even as an awkward pre-teen with a terrible haircut and no fashion sense. I didn’t need to hear it, I didn’t want to hear it, and it was not fitting in the setting. I’m sure people would argue that’s why I don’t feel the need for such affirmation – I had it in spades. And maybe they’re right, because it was my mind that was neglected. I desperately needed to hear that I was smart and doing well to keep myself going, and instead I would be told shut it, my time had passed (I wish I was making that one up), or even better – threatened with incarceration because I didn’t want to talk about my feelings to them. That’s another thing I desperately wish I was making up – I was told to sit in the corner until I was ready to talk, laced with threats of getting me committed (ironic, since they refused to help me get mental help), or sending me to military school. I wasn’t able to talk about my emotions in even the loosest sense until my 20s because of this bullcrap! So yeah, being treated like I was both stupid and crazy while telling me how pretty I was – not ideal.
However, having picked apart some of this knot, I think that I might reach a day where I can ask for affirmation again, and before I hit dangerous deficit where it only serves to depress me to near-suicidal points. It’s not going to happen overnight, but at least it’s a step in the right direction.
And y’know, otherwise – have a great Friday. 🙂