I saw a poster on facebook. It reminded me of the extremely foggy place that I emerged from. It reminded me of the lies that I told myself in order to resist looking at the truth about my life. Believing this type of statement, (or trying to) became a big part of how I survived. It was also how I beat myself up.
The poster states: “What screws us up most in life is the picture in our heads of how it’s supposed to be”
~ Survival thinking was: “As soon as I can achieve this standard and realize that my own thinking and expectations are the problem then, I will be able to put the problem (which is really all in my head) behind me.”
~ Self abusive thinking was: “I am a failure at getting over the past because I am the one who is wrong about it; I should be able to realize that my expectations are way out of line.”
Again, The poster states: “What screws us up most in life is the picture in our heads of how it’s supposed to be”
This poster is intended to be motivational and inspirational. The poster is inferring that “fantasy thinking” is the root of the problem. That unreasonable visions of how it should have been “screws us up”. That this fictional thought in my head is what screwed ME up.
I have heard this type of teaching in 12 step programs, self help books, churches and religious teachings and from countless people. I learned and tried to accept that my problem was that I longed for some sort of “perfect family” like we saw on television and that there is no such family. I learned to tell myself to “get real” and get over the past. Just “let it go”. I learned and tried to accept that my “expectations” got in the way of my ability to accept reality as though the reality that I was trying to accept was actually good. As though the bad stuff wasn’t bad but that I had some unreasonable wish for how it was “supposed to be.” I was conditioned and brainwashed to believe that I was making a big deal over “nothing” and that the breakdown of my mental health and self esteem issues were not only of my own making but also my own fault, my “failure” and my weakness”. I learned that I had “a problem” instead of that this was all caused FROM a problem that had nothing to do with my choice.
The fact is that my reality was not good. If what screwed me up in life was the picture in my head of how it was supposed to be, then what screwed me up was that I thought I was supposed to be safe and protected. I thought I was supposed to be loved and even nurtured. I thought that I should not have had to live in fear of the next beating or the next sexual assault. I thought THAT was how it was supposed to be.
I was caught in a fog spin by these so called inspirational and motivational quotes. These kinds of sayings and quotes were the things that I lived by. I would have posted this quote 10 years ago without blinking an eye. These so called motivational and inspirational quotes supported me in escaping the truth of what my life was really like. As long as I was telling myself that it wasn’t “that bad” and that I had the wrong idea about what it should have been like, I didn’t face what actually had in fact happened to me.
And what had in fact happened is NOT the way it SHOULD have been.
It is not motivating or inspiring to try to convince people that they have a misconception about their own lives. It causes further damage. It adds to the trauma that being mistreated and devalued already caused. It is not helpful when people or organizations try to encourage people to move forward before the actual truth has been validated. It is abusive to invalidate the truth by teaching that facing it or talking about it is the same as whining and even the same as lying about it.
Facing the fact that things in my life were NOT the way that they should have been was one of the first things that gave me hope for recovery from the issues that I struggled with overcoming. Being told and then realizing myself that what happened to me was wrong, that is was child abuse and emotional neglect, and that it was not something that I should try to accept as being “meant to be” or something that “made me stronger” or fabrications and exaggerations that were “all in my head” helped to set me free. Understanding how much these beliefs held me back was like silky healing balm on festering wounds.
Overturning these beliefs became keys in the rusty locks of the prison I had been trapped in since childhood. My childhood (and because of this brainwashing, continuing on into adulthood) was NOT the way it SHOULD have been. It was NOT my weakness, my imagination or fantasy thinking that was the problem; it was that the things that happened to me were WRONG and those things CAUSED the problems.
I was screwed up because of the way things actually were.
I found wholeness and freedom by facing the way that things actually were.
NOTE: I spent over 25 years trying to change my thinking about what was wrong with me by accepting that it was ME. It only took me 3 years to find freedom and wholeness by facing the root causes of my struggles.
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