The Real Problem With Being Fake by Christina Enevoldsen

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Christina Enevoldsen

It is my honor to have Christina Enevoldsen ~ Cofounder of the website Overcoming Sexual Abuse guest posting for Emerging from Broken today.

 The Problem with Being Fake by Christina Enevoldsen

Many years ago, I tried to cultivate a relationship with an acquaintance.  I listened attentively; I asked questions; I shared my thoughts and feelings. Nothing seemed to work.  I had the feeling I was spending time with a mannequin.  I tried for months to break through her plastic facade, but I never found anything vulnerable or real.  I knew facts about her—carefully constructed data—but I didn’t really know her.  One day, in exasperation, I told her to drop her phony act and be herself.  I assured her that I’d like the real her, but the fake stuff was driving me crazy.  Not surprisingly, my pep talk didn’t inspire intimacy.  She backed off in a big way and we rarely spoke after that. 

 I crave intimacy and deep connections, so masks have always turned me off.  I want to know what you’re really passionate about.  What are your deepest fears?  How are you really feeling?  I don’t care about the weather; I don’t want to know what you bought at the mall.  Tell me who you really are. 

 The funny this is, for most of my life, I’ve been covered by a facade.  My childhood abuse gave me a distorted image of myself and I was convinced people wouldn’t like the real me. I couldn’t articulate just what was so bad; I just knew that the real me was impossible to love.  I desperately wanted acceptance and thought that covering up was the only way to have that. 

 I’ve worn a variety of masks for different occasions and for different people.  I made it a habit to study others to figure out what they wanted so I could conform to their desires.  I’d gauge their reactions and adjust my performance accordingly.   

 I thought wearing masks would make me more likeable, but it was actually making me less likeable. I eliminated the possibility for deep relationships by constructing a barrier.  Looking back, I can see why I experienced so much rejection, even from nice people.  They couldn’t relate to my false front.  Even if someone connected with that false persona, it wasn’t the type of connection I longed for, since it was based on a lie.  I could never have real intimacy.

 I rejected my true self before I even gave people the chance to accept or reject me.  The rejection of my true self led to putting on a false self, which led to rejection by others, which led to more rejection from me.  What a very vicious cycle that was! 

 I discovered that before I could have a satisfying relationship with others, I had to have a satisfying relationship with myself.  I couldn’t have that as long as I was covered in shame and self-loathing.  I needed to see the real me instead of the lies my abuse taught me.  I needed to sort through those lies and accept the truth so I could see my value and love myself. 

 When I learned to accept myself, I let the real me shine through.  I can connect with others now since I’m connected to myself.  I have deeply fulfilling relationships based on truth—who I really am—a unique and lovable person.

Christina Enevoldsen

Christina Enevoldsen is cofounder of Overcoming Sexual Abuse, an online resource for male and female abuse survivors looking for practical answers and tools for healing. Christina’s passions are writing and speaking about her own journey of healing from abuse and inspiring people toward wholeness. She and her husband live in Los Angeles and share three children and three grandchildren.

Overcoming Sexual Abuse also has a very active facebook page.

36 response to "The Real Problem With Being Fake by Christina Enevoldsen"

  1. By: Mara Posted: 21st September 2013

    Dear Christina,

    I feel i have found many kindered sister’s and friends on this website. The way you express yourself resonates with my heart, body and soul is inspiring. It makes me feel not like an alien anymore. There are more people like me that have been through the things i have been through. Through the hurt, betrayal and silence of loved ones and friends. I feel blessed to have found this website. I haven’t stopped weeping since yesterday when i’ve found this site. I feel that for the very first time i can really deal with my past. Not to just brush is and name it but to really go through the pain and relive the hardest moments. Because in those hardest, painful and sickning times i have lost pieces of myself, and I need to get them back to become whole again. Thank you for helping me to get my life back. Highly appreciated and much love. Kind regards, Mara

  2. By: Christina Enevoldsen Posted: 15th May 2012

    Caden,
    I’m glad this resonated with you and you’re seeing the truth about yourself that you are lovable and good enough. You are! Thanks for your comment.
    Christina

  3. By: Caden Posted: 14th May 2012

    Reading this has been a real revelation for me; I’ve realized that I’ve been living behind a series of facades for much of my life. Because one of my primary abusers, my older brother, told me that I wasn’t good enough, that no one would ever like me for me…he was jealous because in fact people did like me as I was, back when I was open, before the period when the family allowed me to be alone with him all the time and he sexually and physically abused and destroyed me. Our parents also insisted I should be “more like your brother” despite the fact that I just wasn’t that kind of boy. Since then I’ve dissociated and cycled through various unstable facades in a desperate attempt to be someone else and get the wrong people to like me, always lying in wait for the time when I would magically become that ideal person I visualized in my head.

    Of course this hasn’t led to any good relationships, and you are completely right; if you can just be yourself and you aren’t a monster inside (like my older brother, who was a cruel scumbag but had this extrovert, highly social facade) people will like you. I struggled to see this even with overweight people (I’m not trying to stigmatize anyone’s weight, but this has all been tied in with my eating disorder and body image issues, caused in part by my brother who said I was fat when I wasn’t, so then I did become obese in my early teen years…) who had friends while I was so sure that if I wasn’t at a perfect and very, very thin weight, no one would like me.

    Wow. Thank you for this!

  4. By: christina enevoldsen Posted: 12th December 2011

    Genesis,
    I’m sorry for how discouraged you’re feeling right now. Anniversaries of painful things can be so very hard. You’ve been taking some very important steps lately and it’s also common to have a strong reaction to moving forward. From what I’ve observed from you lately, you’re not as “lost” as you were a year ago. Sometimes, I get frustrated with how long some steps in healing take too. But keep at it and you won’t feel like this forever.
    Hugs,
    Christina

  5. By: Genesis Posted: 11th December 2011

    A year later I did not need to read my words. Nothing has changed. Im still “lost”. At least I understand the “disconnected” feeling now. Now I’m faced with a barrage of memories. Vivid ones. What was I looking for, truly. How did I find this?

  6. By: Christina Enevoldsen Posted: 5th December 2010

    Taia,
    I remember that place! I know it’s SO hard and it seems impossible to get through or see better days. But it does get better if you face it. I agree with Darlene– that it’s up to you. The more you ‘own’ your own healing process, the better.

    I understand about having no idea who you really are. I was haunted by that for a long time. I wrote a counterpart to this blog where I talk about my journey to ‘find myself’: http://overcomingsexualabuse.com/2010/09/30/how-can-i-%e2%80%98be-myself%e2%80%99-if-i-don%e2%80%99t-know-who-that-is/

    Hugs to you! Christina

  7. By: Taia Chalet Posted: 4th December 2010

    I really love this post but it makes me sad. I feel so lost in this world right now. I have a very painful anniversary in like 3 days so maybe that’s why I am so disconnected lately. I don’t know who I am from one minute to the next sometimes and I truthfully don’t want to deal with anything but I no longer have the courage to just stop. I’ve been surviving off of internet relationships and they are fading. Most times I just want someone to see my pain and understand yet I have the thought that nobody in my world could ever grasp the despair I feel. I’m not a fake person but I do try to please everyone. Nobody truly bothers to please me. In this very moment I want to just cry and have someone hold me in the next I’m sure I will be angry and pretend I’m just fine.
    I can’t believe when I went back to see my therapist this week because I truly feel like i’m falling apart she took pride in the fact I can’t hide my memories anymore. She was happy I was finally facing the truth of my life but I’m in pure agony over it now. How can this be a good thing? Part of me wants to talk but there is still this deep fear flowing through me.
    I just want someone here with me to tell me I can do this. To tell me I’ve made it this far and to keep going. Tell me the pain will end eventually. I didn’t die then and I can’t die now. I don’t know if I am ever going to be free.
    I’m ranting. I just want to be me. Not feel pressure. I want to know who I am. I want to feel love again. I want a mom. I want a family. I want friends. I want a life again. I keep giving it away. Maybe this is the end for me. IDK I’m in such a dark place right now it doesn’t even matter.
    A so called friend came to visit me yesterday and instead of listening to me just let me chemically numb away my pain. I didn’t even desire that. People never listen to me they just want me to shut up and quit whining. 31 years old but today I’m just a kid. I think I’m already dead.. my body just hasn’t realized it yet. invisible most of the time. Ugh who cares… I do. Where do I go from here? I need help to find myself.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 4th December 2010

      Hi Taia,
      It was at the point that you are describing right now, when I realized that it was up to me. It is dark and painful and it can also be a new beginning. (as it was for me) No one can validate you the way that you need to be validated, except you. Our friends don’t know what to do to help. Few people do and most of them have their own pain that they don’t know how to deal with either.
      I wanted to be me, and I started digging to where I was lost. I went back to the beginning and took a look at what happened, the damage it caused me, the beliefs that I adopted about myself, and I began the process of really understanding that I believed a huge pack of lies about me, about my value and about what I deserve. I had to sort it out in order to be free. I spent years trying to avoid the hard work and just do some light stuff and jump straight to freedom… but the time came when I knew that wasn’t going to cut it anymore…
      Today I am free. I have found myself, righted the lies and owned my own value. And no one has to do that for me anymore. Freedom is sweet and well worth the effort and I know that you can have it too. Please hang in there.
      Hugs and love, Darlene

  8. By: Christina Enevoldsen Posted: 17th November 2010

    Emily,
    There are so many things that that persuade us to put on masks, including the shame and fear that you mentioned (not being wanted & the threats). I’m sorry for how painful that’s been for you. It’s been multi-layered for me too and takes time to find the real self under there. I’m glad that you’ve decided to make that effort. Hugs, Christina

  9. By: Emily Posted: 16th November 2010

    I was so dissociated I couldn’t be real. You but it well, I also tried to feel what other people wanted from me and tried to give them that. I have been a major people pleaser and ended up being lonely and isolated. My mother was abused and I think had totally run out of gas when I came along. I can understand and forgive that. What does one do with being slapped across the face and being told you were never wanted, then being told (promised) you would be killed if you talked about the reality of the sex abuse in your life? Between not understanding that other people might want my company, and hiding behind a shroud of shame and silence and death threats- yes, wearing a mask was a way of life. Forced into it from a very young age. I see other people in that same type of place at work. Many people have yet to make the progress to be real. I value those people who are real and my friends, keep the others at bay. Hope to be open in way that is helpful to those that I come in contact with who haven’t figured realness out yet.

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