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 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.