No Self to Esteem

There never is a good time for your therapist to go on vacation, but it is such a relief to have my therapist back after over a week off.

At our recent session we touched on the subject that we first talked about. The concept that I have no “self”. I told her I feel like a perpetual teenager in a woman’s body.

Basically I was remembering how I felt as a kid growing up in a highly critical family. Most of my family is loud and consistently throws out criticisms at anyone and everyone. I call this one aspect of my family’s language. The other aspect is victim, but really, they are one in the same. Victim speak exists only if another can be in the wrong.

If the criticisms were directed at me I felt embarrassed, sad, angry, and believed that I was not to be taken seriously as I was made a joke of. Like I was there for people to use to get a cheap laugh. My school experiences were similar as was the neighborhood (it was the 70’s and we knew and hung out with neighbors then).

When the criticisms weren’t directed at me, it took form in this incessant talk about others and each other “That so and so is so stupid, did you see what she did?” “I would never do that he is so weak for letting her…” or “What the hell is wrong with her…” As a kid I was very observant and took in the cues of “don’t be like/do that” and “be like/do that”.

Add to that a dose of rarely naming my qualities like “smart, creative, playful, inquisitive, etc.” and you have an adult who has no concept of my true self and have adopted a false self.

In knowing this I now understand why I identify with my emotions so intensely. Instead of being able to live as a person who experiences emotions, I truly believe I am my emotions. When I’m depressed I AM depressed. then with each changing emotion, I then believe I am that emotion.

Which also explains why I am so horrible at making decisions.I believe that we all have the answers within us, but if my body is a crowded room of “who am I’s”, how can that knowing be heard and trusted? When I have to make a decision, it feels like a letter that holds an answer gettings passed on to the various versions of me and each one says “I don’t know if that’s for me, here you take it”.

This also explains why I seek acceptance from others who remind me of my family members. I keep trying to be accepted completely as I am, by people who have ridged ideas of what’s “acceptable” and “not acceptable” thinking that if they can accept me then it somehow translates to “I’m a good person”.

You may be thinking, “but wouldn’t it be easier to just find someone who already accepts you as you are?”. Yes and no. Yes, I would have fun with it and be happy for a while, but my unresolved issue of having “no self” still persists and will at some point make the relationship difficult.

Ideally, my path is towards getting to know my true self and integrating all the aspects of myself. I see glimpses of it once in a while, but it’s like a smoke screen grounded on copal. Someday I would very much like for that smoke screen to solidify.

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