False Beliefs like I KNOW I Would be OKAY if …

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Am I okay without a man
Darlene and Jim

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 dysfunctional relationships in the la la land stages of love and there you have how I came to believed that the right man was the answer for me too. I thought that having a man (boyfriend) would mean that I was okay too.

When my parents split up, I was at the stage in life where I was noticing boys.  I wanted one for myself.  I wanted to be validated and cherished and good enough.  If men could sooth my mother’s hurts, then they must be able to sooth mine too. If men were the answer to all life’s problems for my mother, then they must be my answer too!

And at the age of 13 who knows anything about what “right one” would look like other than from the relationships that have already been modeled for us?

I believed that men were the answer, NOT because I saw the belief work, but because my mother believed it so deeply she communicated it to me in 100 ways; when she was in the beginning stages of a new romance she was so happy.  She would sing and play records. She did her hair and dressed a little more special.  She seemed to have higher self esteem. She seemed to like life more. I wanted her to be happy and not be in so much pain and it seemed that men were the answer to overcoming that pain and sadness, and like I said, if it worked for her, there was every reason to believe that it would work for me too.  I really wanted to be okay and I thought I would be is only someone said that I was!

I learned this false belief; that other people could define me as worthy. In fact I learned and believed that the ONLY way that I could be defined as worthy was through other people. Because of the example my mother set for me however, I thought that being defined as worthy by men however, was the “ultimate form of worthy”.  

I learned from all the people in my life that other people could validate me or invalidate me. This had been what had happened to me since I was born. I was rewarded (validated) when I did what was expected of me and I was punished (invalidated) when I disappointed.  Behaviour modification techniques can be a dangerous practice that results in teaching a child a false understanding of their own self worth and identity.

The foundation had been laid for me to for me to conclude that men were the answer to my low self esteem when I watched the positive effect that a man could have on my mothers demeanour. 

My mother rarely got hurt by a man so that was not my fear. My fear was not being loved. By the age of 13, I thought men were my last chance at ever being loved.

In that sick dysfunctional relationship system, the men that I was attracting were also looking for someone to define THEM as worthy too.  The false definition of love took over; I tried to prove that my man was lovable by my devotion and compliance to him. I tried to make HIM feel like HE was OKAY. That was what I had been taught love was. Ultimately in the false definition of love in these dysfunctional relationships, the more I sacrificed myself, the more I thought that I “proved” my love. Those men constantly asked for more devotion and compliance and I believed (as I had in my dysfunctional relationship with my mother) that if I found the right KEY to show him how wonderful and lovable HE was (especially at my own expense and by putting myself and my needs aside) then HE would no longer believe that there was anything missing in him and when he knew that, I was sure he would love me in return.

In the false definition of love, I had my ideas about what “proved love” and it was always about sacrifice because that’s what I was taught about love. I will give up my personal style of dress because he wants me to dress differently and that will prove how much I love him. I will give up my favourite TV show because he doesn’t like it and that will prove how important that HE is to me.  I won’t have certain friends because he says that they make me act differently when I am around them and if I walk away from them and choose him that will prove that I love him.  I will stop talking on the phone when he is home and I will watch sports with him or let him do things to me in the bedroom that made me feel sick and that will prove that I love him. In that false definition of love and in those dysfunctional relationships, I believed that if I could be who he wants me to be then he will love me. And when I am finally loved, I will be okay.

The truth is that when I finally loved me, I was okay. When I found me and embraced me, I was okay. When I realized that putting myself last is the same as agreeing that I am not worthy, and that I am not as “important” as they are, and when I stopped doing that; I was okay. When I found out that putting my needs last was not ‘selfless” and in fact it communicated that even I knew that my needs were actually less than anyone else’s and when I stopped doing that and I embraced the truth that my needs are just as important as everyone else’s, I was okay. When I said no to proving I was worthy of love, I was okay. I don’t have to prove it. It is already true. I was born worthy. When I realized that other people don’t define me as worthy, good enough, valuable or lovable and that I don’t need others to validate that in me, THEN I was okay.

(But first, I had to learn a whole new definition of love.)

Please share your thoughts.

Another snap shot on the journey to wholenes;

Darlene Ouimet 

Related Posts ~ (The words in the post in coloured bold print are also related posts)

 My parents did the best they could according to who? 

~You Reap what you sow ~ what about child abuse

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49 response to "False Beliefs like I KNOW I Would be OKAY if …"

  1. By: J Posted: 6th December 2011

    Thanks Karen!

    Much appreciated 🙂 (I’m not much of a dancer, but I’ll join you in spirit at least!)

    I’ve been trying to cut back on sugar too. Caught up with old school friend recently and he said that alone changed him from having panic attacks (I think daily at one point), also helped weight etc.

    I’ve also been wondering about PTS. That was one thing I’d never applied to myself (I thought it was something that happened after one specific extremely traumatic thing) but read somewhere that long-term exposure to stress can also cause it. I think I ticked off a bunch of symptoms too from memory.

    I definitely relate to the anger too. Hope you can find some relief/healing whatever you decide to do!

    take care of yourself!

    J

  2. By: Broken Heart Posted: 6th December 2011

    Darlene and Robin,
    I don’t expect a response, I just like to talk about these things as it helps me digest the world around me, and who ever talks with me about is their choice. Any discussion will usually evolve with related views an thoughts.

    A thought about the root of all disorders being similar, yes, it is ultimately the selfish heart of man in most of them, but there are mental disorders are rooted in physiology, so as you say, there are too many “rabbit trails” to really say “it’s this”.

    Which leads to “labels”, those are simply words that are used to describe something, that something is always filtered by our experiences. Language cannot ever be total communication, since all our experiences are different, that is why we should always approach things with an open mind that is willing to look it at whatever the subject is from a different angle or perspective. So the danger is not the label, but the closed mind that views the world only from their perspective.

    Broken Heart

  3. By: Sophia Posted: 6th December 2011

    J, I want to chime in on the sugar issue. I actually don’t usually eat a lot of sugary stuff, but a few weeks ago I went on a bit of a binge with cookies and soda over a few days and . . . it completely turned my mental state into a near psychotic mode. It was like being attacked by demons, an internal voice raging out of control! It may react differently to other people, but I was left wondering why sugar isn’t a controlled substance, lol. Seriously, I would be interested to hear what you experience if you decide to taper off.

  4. By: J Posted: 7th December 2011

    Hi Sophia,

    I have been trying to. Been too much going on to really notice much yet I think. My friend said that it was the one thing he changed, and made a huge difference for him.

    The difficulty for me has been the gradual (and fairly recent) realization of the many and varied ways I tend to “numb out” from reality. Haven’t ever been diagnosed as dissociative or anything, but I’m pretty sure that was one thing I shared a lot of symptoms with. (Actually Borderline Personality Disorder and PTSD were the last two I’m pretty sure I strongly identified with symptom-wise. Just had a quick google of it, it does mention dissociative symptoms.)

    Anyway the point being that I’d started to notice that both food in general (strong tendency to binge eat, especially at night — I’ve long known that was usually to try and distract myself from my thoughts) was a dissociative type reaction, and had noticed that my sugar intake was getting particularly brutal. So I have managed to curb it (at least compared to what it was), but could still definitely be better.

    This s**t is so f**king confusing. Most people seem to tell me not to self-diagnose etc, but then proper-looking websites about the disorders say they’re often misdiagnosed as plain depression, and seem to me to be saying that the misdiagnosis can actually cause further harm. It’s so &#&@*@(!^$# annoying!!!!!!!

    (Sorry. Brief rant. Shorter than usual if I’ve actually managed to contain it there!)

    But I did want to say my friend I think would echo your sentiments of reactions & quite possibly controlled substances. For that matter, it’s probably been some time that it’s seemed to me that money is far more important than health in most of the western world. Also the implied (or actual)… can’t think of the word I’m looking for….. I guess social acceptance of sugar, caffeine, alcohol, tobacco (probably tobacco especially stands out for me) etc compared to illegal drugs, and therefore the peddling & f**king brutal intrusive advertising etc to kids is just a disgrace.

    Actually I’d been reading some articles on pornography as an addiction recently that gave me a lot of food for thought. I’ve mentioned at least briefly I think that I’ve put myself thru hell since childhood over my attraction to porn. My thinking kinda went from feeling like it was progress to see it as at least comparitively normal (which it arguably was compared to my uber-repressive childhood — although pretty blatant, and sometimes pretty f**kin graphic sexual innuendo was allowed by my parents to be watched by me from young age — so much hypocrisy/double standards etc!!!) and try to stop tearing myself up inside because of having a sex drive etc; then more recently it’s been more along the lines of “just because something’s normal doesn’t mean it’s not really bad for you”.

    The articles (pretty sure they were on “psychology today” or something like that; pretty sure I saved them somewhere on the computer if anyone wants the name of them or anything) made a strong distinction between porn like playboy magazine compared to internet porn in particular. There was a lot of stuff about porn-induced erectile dysfunction among young men; and technical stuff I didn’t understand too well about the changes in the brain that made them now class it as a physical addiction like drugs, gambling etc.

    Sorry my brain’s jumping topics a lot here. I think I orignially got started on this because porn is one of the things I now see as a dissociative method for me. Even things that aren’t bad in themselves (like reading fiction for example) I’ve seen mentioned as being ways of dissociating from the world. I’ve always had an enormous appetite for books, music, movies and tv (in some ways – I also actively avoid “news” media whenever possible, and would probably go insane if I had to listen to advertising from tv/radio etc for long).

    Also the food connection has been slowly revealing itself to me as more of a problem/dysfunction than I’d realized. I was skinny as you can easily get once I finished growing (had a few phases of chubbiness as a toddler/early teen etc), but still thought I was fat at that stage (proportionately big legs/hips, esp. for a guy – still remember someone making a comment to that effect about someone in primary school and being stunned, thinking “s**t, that guy’s way skinnier than me!” and wondering why they weren’t making fun of me too)

    Sorry, this has turned into a huge memory-fest. Trying to figure stuff out for myself I guess. Probably not something I need to apologise for. (Apology retracted, in retrospect! :))

    Anyway was thinking about my mother always nagging me growing up about what I ate, how fast I ate, how much I ate, blah blah blah. Also about my posture, appearance (hair especially). Never seemed able to just leave me the f**k alone. GRRRRRR!!!!!!! And unfortunately, I seem to have developed the tendency to specifically NOT do things she’d ever talk about, I think just because it probably felt like the only way I had any control over my own life. This has translated into taking almost no care of my appearance etc. Bit stupid, but hey. So’s my mother’s treatment of me. So I’ll be gentle on myself. (Little victories, right?) 🙂

    About food, I noticed so sharply when I read in a book on music mixing/production etc someone said “How do you know when the song’s done? You just know, like you know when you’ve had enough to eat” — suddenly realized I didn’t even have any awareness of something as simple as that. Since I figured that out, I’ve tried also to be more aware of portion sizes etc, and it does seem to have made a difference to my digestive health at least. Despite appearances (I’m brutally overweight now) I seem to have a very small stomach. Other people seem able to eat large serves and pull up fine; I almost without fail can eat myself straight to diarrhoea (sorry to be graphic). I’ve wondered at times if it was also a more subconcious form of self-harm/punishment. (An interesting sidenote – I was away by myself for just over a week earlier this year, and despite significant trouble with depression and anxiety etc, my stomach was fine the whole time until flying home. Did make me wonder just how much my stomach’s just been responding to all the s**t in the home environment all these years — as well as the impact of f**king relentless constant nagging in causing me to not even know my own body at all) &@#$&@^!#&*!@*)(#

    (Bit of self-censorship directed at my mother)

    Deep breath. This is all pretty confronting.

    Ok topic jump again — turns out I could potentially move into new apartment by this weekend. Scared s**tless. Really stuck on how to go about it. My brain almost completely stopped trying to explain to my friend/social worker who’s helping me what’s bothering me. Basically, I had been holding on to the idea that once I was gone, I’d cut off contact (at least to start with) so I could just FINALLY have some “me” time where I could try to re-connect with myself (actually, just “connect” with myself is probably more accurate) without any negative parental influence etc. My worker’s opinion was not to do that, but this is complicated becuase she’s a close friend of my father. (I do trust her that she’s not telling him anything, but still, did have my doubts in this particular instance if this was fully thinking of me or not).

    Anyway I decided it would probably be easier (on me) to not cut off at this stage. However, I can’t figure out how to go about getting out of here without cutting off completely but not having my parents start shoving in to everything. To be honest, I’m afraid that just the fact of me moving out will cause my mother to react (she’s never seemed to react well to any sort of change). So I haven’t told them yet, and at this stage thinking I don’t want them to know until I’m gone.

    I f**king hate all this. It’s so easy to feel like I’m just f**king paranoid/an idiot/a bastard etc for even thinking this way, let alone planning to do it. But the problem is, I can’t know how they’ll react until I do it, and given my history of freezing completely when confronted, I don’t want to leave that possibility open at all. And although I may be over-doing things in my head, I don’t really believe I’m paranoid. Or at least, even if I am, I feel I’ve got reason to fear the reactions of my parents when they do find out. Or who knows? Nothing could happen at all. But I guess I’ve got too f**king much to lose here to put it down to chance…. and given what I now believe, I think it’s more than just chance that the reactions will be bad.

    Ok think I’m about done here for now. I do remember my friend saying there’s plenty of info on the web about sugar & its effects etc Sophia (haven’t looked into it myself yet). I imagine it could only be a good thing for anyone who feels able to try and reduce sugar intake (esp. the heavily processed ones, from what I understand). I’d also be interested to hear any more thoughts/experiences you have on the topic!

    Hope everybody’s well.

    J

  5. By: Sophia Posted: 7th December 2011

    J, there is so much in what you are processing that resonates with me. For now, I want to mention one facet that I recently worked through. My stepmother was also always making critical comments about weight, hair, clothes, whatever. There was one particular moment when I was a child when she just looked at me one day and announced that my hair did not look good long and it was going to be cut, end of story. You know, if she had tried being respectful and tactful, she could have phrased it like, hey would you consider a different style, it could be really cute. But no, she just issued insults and orders and made me feel ugly and helpless. So from that time I could not bear to cut or style my hair without triggering huge emotions. Finally, a couple of years ago, after much therapy, I realized that I did want a short haircut now, that it suited who I was today, and that making this decision on my on behalf to cut my hair was actually a way of RELEASING the emotional hold she had on me. Maybe it also helped that I had finally cut off contact with her so she couldn’t comment about it anyway. Well, it was one of those acts that was both one small step and a giant leap, lol. And so we progress, bit by bit. Hugs, Sophia

  6. By: Sophia Posted: 7th December 2011

    I have looked at photos of me from that time when she insulted me about my hair and I can’t see anything wrong with how I looked. That whole move on her part felt like there were HUGE psychological undercurrents of her wanting to assert control, undermine me, put me off balance. I have a dialogue going on in my head between a voice that is criticizing me for making too much of a “small” thing and the part of me that fights for survival, who says that maybe one haircut is a small thing, but it wasn’t about the haircut really, it was about power and fear and disrespect. All I know is that I feel so triggered by the memory that there was SOMETHING wrong!

  7. By: kari Posted: 12th July 2012

    thank you, thank you , thank you

    I have finally found what was wrong with me all these years written in your blog. I have lived my life, dependant on the approval of others, it hurts and its exhausting. I give give give to make a man love me. How do i stop , how did you do it

  8. By: Dave Posted: 3rd December 2012

    D – i can really resonate with this post except I was the man for my mother…not other men…i became THE man…i had to do everything for her…i had to meet all her needs. my father was absent..physically present but thats it…so my mother looked to me for EVERYTHING !

  9. By: Dave Posted: 3rd December 2012

    D – i can really resonate with this post except I was the man for my mother…not other men…i became THE man…i had to do everything for her…i had to meet all her needs. my father was absent..physically present but thats it…so my mother looked to me for EVERYTHING ! i never thought about what i needed or wanted. I just knew i had to please my mother know matter what. Our whole lives revolved around pleasing her. I spent 40 years in that mindset and that behavior pattern. She manipulated and controlled me every way possible to get me to try and meet her needs. It has left me deeply wounded and looking for the mother i never had. I never really had a father either but that was much more neglect than abuse. My mother took over my life. I had no thought of what i wanted or needed. I lived my life to please my mother and make sure she didnt try to kill herself again, which she had tried when i was 7. My sister started running away from home after that as my dad called from the hospital and said to my sister “you know that this is all your fault dont you ?”…so pretty much after that my only sibling was gone. I took on the responsibility of keeping mom alive and meeting her every need. I knew nothing else…people talk about “putting themselves last.” I wasnt even last….there was no consideration at all for me. I often went to bed hungry…i cooked, cleaned, did laundry, rolled mom out of bed, made her tea, rubbed her shoulders…you name it…i did it…i thought that would get me the love i wanted…finally God is showing me his love through others and i am able to receive love the way i never did before. Better late than never !

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 3rd December 2012

      Hi Dave
      What a horrible time you have had. I am glad that you are learning to receive love now.
      hugs, Darlene

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