Archive for belief system
We are conditioned not to talk about family secrets. I was taught in so many ways that ‘some things are not talked about’ and I was so afraid of the consequences of bringing shame on my family that I ignored the solution to overcoming the mental health issues that I had. Rejection from my family when I was a little child would have meant death. I believed as an adult that it STILL meant death. I had to overcome that fear.
Even when the family members are dead, the victims of dysfunctional family situations are very often STILL just as afraid to reveal the family secrets, which is very telling about just how deep this fear goes when it comes to the belief system.
People told me that they didn’t have a choice about keeping the secrets even when they became adults. I agreed with them because not taking my choice about telling enabled me to have an excuse to not have to do the work that it took to take my life back. I had to look more closely at what it meant for me to believe that I didn’t have a choice. I had to see that it wasn’t that I DIDN’T have a choice as much as it was just that I didn’t KNOW I had a choice.
This belief that I could not, must not tell was rooted in victim mentality and I had to keep in mind that this “victim mentality” is how I survived a childhood of abuse and emotional neglect. Victim mentality was my friend when I was a kid. It saved me. It was hard to understand that victim mentality was not my friend anymore. My mind warned me constantly NOT to see things differently, believing with all my heart that the only way to survive this life was to operate in that same child mindset that kept me Read More→
I was 13 years old the first time I woke up hearing my mother having sex. My parents had been split up for a few months; I had never heard my parents having sex. By the sounds of it, I thought that the man my mother had in her bedroom with her was trying to kill her. And he could have been! How would anyone know? None of us knew him.
I felt frozen in my bed, terrified about what I was hearing and not knowing what to do about it. Should I get a large object and go in there and club him over the head? Should I call the police? My frozen immobility and indecisiveness was making me feel guilty and then suddenly, those horrifying sounds stopped. I heard normal murmuring sounds of conversation. I must have gone back to sleep then. Eventually, I figured out that what was going on in her bedroom was not murder or physical violence.
My toxic mother didn’t want to be a single mother. That was her answer to everything. It was even her justification for having very loud sex with men while three children slept in rooms very close by.
One of my brothers made comments about her night-time noise making sessions; she would respond “I never asked to be a single mother”. I was left to assume the translation for that statement. And I translated it according to my belief system. My mother deserves to be happy. Men make her happy. I have no right to interfere with her happiness. I have no right to feel uncomfortable about Read More→
Looking back on my life, it is evermore clear to me how hard I looked for excuses to blame myself for the dysfunction in my life. There is a very good reason that children take on the blame: it was safer to blame themselves. Blaming “them” was fruitless. I could not “make them change” but “I knew” I could always “try harder”. I believed that if I could “do good enough” that they would finally love me.
It was very hard for me to learn to see things through a new grid because I had been consistently taught things a certain way. The way that I was taught things became my grid of understanding. My grid of understanding was the way that I saw and believed that life worked. Dysfunction was my normal. I believed things worked in life a certain way, because that is how I was “taught” life worked. As I got older, outside influences added to those teachings, confirming them and cementing them firmly in my mind. This is what I call my belief system.
One of the things that I have discovered about my belief system is that although when I got older I was taught that I can change my thinking by practicing a new thought or belief over and over again, (positive affirmations or positive thinking) the truth was that until I found the original false belief and Read More→
My parents split up and eventually divorced when I was just turning 13 years old. After my mother went through her suicidal phase she started dating. She had not been separated from my father for very long when she started dating. Men and dating became her priority.
Through her behaviour she communicated to me that attracting men was the way to cope with low self esteem and pain. Looking back on what she taught me and how she impacted my belief system, she herself believed that men and having a man in her life was what she needed more than anything else. She believed that she needed a man in order to survive. She needed a man in order for her to feel complete or even good about herself. Men defined her as worthy and good enough. Her self esteem came from them. Their attraction to her identified her. Having a man meant that my mom was okay.
I had learned from my mother’s actions, words and teachings that men were the most important connection or relationship a woman can have. Because belief systems grow from layers of information, add to that teaching what I learned from the media (movies and books) and from observing Read More→
I want peace on earth. I want peace in emerging from broken and before that I wanted peace in my family. I had been raised to believe that I was responsible for peace in my family or at the very least my actions either contributed to the peace or destroyed it.
As a child I was taught that there would be peace if I didn’t upset anyone. I was taught that if I complied and if I did what was expected of me; if I was quiet and polite and if I didn’t stand up for anything that went against what the adult in the situation deemed the “right way” to do things, that I would be loved and accepted.
My mother was fragile. She was prone to depressions and what she called nervous breakdowns. She made it very clear all of my childhood that if I upset her, she would have a “breakdown”. My mother ended up in the hospital when I was little with what was called “a nervous breakdown” back then. I am sure that this event had a major effect on me and that it settled somewhere in my belief system and added to my beliefs that if I upset someone they may end up in the hospital and everyone knows that people die in hospitals. Not only does a little mind wander all the way to “death” but think about the fear of abandonment and all that that implies. I could not survive Read More→
I had a tough time with anger. I had problems with feeling anger. I didn’t think I felt it. I denied to myself that I ever had it. I didn’t want to feel it. I was proud that I wasn’t an angry person.
And the truth is that I totally misunderstood anger in the first place. I had a different kind of anger problem.
I related anger to self pity. I thought that if I was angry with someone who treated me badly that I was just feeling sorry for myself. I detested self pity; I had been taught that self pity was the “worst” emotion, so I certainly was not going to engage in it. I believed that anger WAS a form of self pity; therefore I didn’t allow myself to feel anger.
Because of the way that I had been raised, my belief system was all wrong. I had love mixed up with obligation. I had respect mixed up with ownership and compliance and the list goes on from there. In the same way that I had the definitions of love and respect mixed up, I also misunderstood my own emotions, labelled them as “other emotions” and dismissed the real emotion. That was part of how I survived.
Labelling certain emotions as other emotions was how I dealt with many emotions, not just the emotion of anger. Like my definitions of words like “love”, “respect” and “relationship” I misunderstood emotions like anger and self pity and traded them for other emotions so that I could Read More→
I talk a lot about realizing all the lies that were in my belief system. I realized that I believed I deserved to be treated the way that I was. But that was a lie. I believed that I was not good enough, and that I was unlovable. Those were both lies. I believed that I somehow attracted the abuse and even that I asked for it… and that was also a lie. Because I believed that I had done “something” to either deserve it or attract it, I lived in fear of doing whatever it was that I was doing that was causing me to be hurt!
As you can see, this belief system stuff is complicated and takes some detective work to unravel.
A big part of the problem was that I was addicted to proving Read More→
“What did you do to make “him” do that? What did you do to cause that reaction?” This is such a lame thing to ask someone because it immediately places blame on the victim.
I am guilty of saying similar things to my own kids when they were small. I cringe with horror at the memory of it today. I know exactly what I communicated… that the bully was only defending themselves. I was inferring that the one who was complaining or reporting an offence must have done something to deserve it in the first place. (This is psychological abuse)
I can comfort myself that usually I said this to two of my kids who were fighting with each other at the time and that I was trying to get to the bottom of it. I was trying to find out what really happened from the beginning. Although it is bad enough to say this to a child who is having some sort of sibling rivalry crisis; “he stole my tractor” ~ “she hit me with her toy duck” and the adult is really just trying to get to the bottom of who really started it, it is a whole other story and a whole other accusation when you say this to a child who comes home from school with a black eye. This statement implies that Read More→
“Child abuse damages a person for life and that damage is in no way diminished by the ignorance of the perpetrator. It is only with the uncovering of the complete truth as it affects all those involved that a genuinely viable solution can be found to the dangers of child abuse”. Alice Miller ~ Banished Knowledge ~ facing childhood injuries
Lately I have been writing a lot on the subject of dysfunctional family systems. I feel like I am just getting started when it comes to sharing about some of the things that were so dysfunctional in my own family. The dysfunctional mother daughter relationship I had with my abusive mother was only one part of it. I had an emotionally unavailable father as well. There was sexual abuse and physical abuse. I was not heard or even seen as a child ~ as though I was not really a person yet. And that “non person” fact seems to be at the root of everything; the discounted voice and disregarded feelings of the child. We live in a whole world of adults who have not been valued as children but who are Read More→
This past week I did an internet radio Broadcast on Blog Talk Radio with Susan Kingsley-Smith from Empowering Solutions.
It was a really good show and the feedback has been fantastic! We talked for 40 minutes about emotional healing starting off with my “in a nut shell account” about where it all started, the history of my depressions and dissociative disorders which were diagnosed several different ways by several different doctors and mental health workers. Susan contributes some of her history as well.
The bulk of the conversation is about where the solutions actually came from and the process of how I took my life back. I talk about the commonality that I discovered between myself and the people that I was speaking to in mental health seminars, which made me realize Read More→