I wasn’t Really Old Enough to Know BetterBy
My last post “The Twisted Accountability Tactic & How it Works” caused a few comments using the phrase “old enough to know better” or “I should have known better”. This is an interesting expression; one that I beat myself up with for a very long time. I didn’t understand my choices or why I made them. I did things that were destructive to myself, my self esteem; often they were dangerous and even life threatening. It wasn’t until my therapist explained to me several times what happens to a child who is taught that their value is not as high as the value of the adult that is devaluing them. This is what had happened to me.
My beliefs about myself and my self-worth and the lack of value that I felt about myself actually left me with limited choices as an adult. I didn’t really understand what it meant that I had a choice. I beat myself up for things that happened and choices that I made because I knew that some of those things were wrong, and yet… why the heck was I doing them? What was I thinking? These were questions that I asked myself regularly from the age of 15 or 16 and well into my adulthood.
How the heck did it happen to me? How did I get myself into the situation? I know this is very complicated to understand, but that is why I write what I write. ~ I believe that one of the keys to freedom and wholeness is in realizing why we “didn’t know better” when we “should have known better”. Why we seemed to do things even as an adult that made us feel so bad about ourselves and why we chose to do them even when we knew deep down that we would likely come to regret it.
I could not stop blaming myself until I understood the whole progression from childhood and how my belief system formed and how I came to place such little value on myself.
In therapy I started to reveal my history and talk about the things that had happened to me; things that that I had taken the blame for and believed that I had brought on myself. Since a big part of my coping method was dissociating, I spoke about my past as though it wasn’t me anyway, however somewhere deep down I knew that these things were about me and I started to have to connect to myself. This was very painful but it enabled me to almost look at myself through new eyes. Not the disconnected eyes of the alter personalities, but as though I was hearing my story for the first time, realizing that if it were not MY story, I would have been really horrified by it. So why wasn’t I horrified by it when it was my story?
My therapist really helped me to see that when a child is devalued and squished down to a level of non importance due to lack of attention, the wrong kind of attention or abuse, then that child will automatically place that little value on himself or herself. I was defined with little value as a child, therefore where was I going to learn my value as I grew up if not in the wrong places, wrong situations, which once again lead to wrong beliefs? (So the value that I placed on myself was actually not the true value!) This is learned behavior, as well as a coping method. How could a child blame the adults? We don’t have the frame of reference for that when we are young. So it is then very easy to grow up believing that we get what we deserve, and remember, we have been groomed to grow up believing that we deserve to be treated less valuable and even to believe that we are bad.
Because I came to understand that there is a direct connection to our childhoods and how we act in adulthood I was able to re wire my childhood beliefs. I realized why I had not been old enough to know better when I was an adult because my emotional growth had been seriously stunted. I had been defined by the actions of others.
I had to dig deep into that whole system, set the lies straight for myself, and then redefine myself this time with the truth. I had to own my value; my original value. It is a process, but it is amazing!
What say you? I would love your comments and feedback about this concept.
In Truth and Recovery!