I've been thinking about how our worlds are colored by our own experiences, but it doesn't mean that our perspective is correct. I know my brain lies to me.
The reason I know my brain lies is because it says things like "you aren't worth much," and "no one likes you," and "nothing you do is good enough."
It's a wonder I'm still alive with the way my brain speaks to me. Don't worry, I'm too interested to see how my life turns out to end it prematurely. But, my brain is mean to me. And it's on repeat.
Someone forgot to put the nice thoughts in the playlist. Can I return this brain? It's not working properly.
The way I think has a direct effect on my perspective. So, if someone says "I love your hair," or "this piece of artwork is amazing, Amy," I dismiss it. My brain says, "that's not true." "They don't really mean it." Even after I've thanked the person.
My former Teacher, who passed away a few years ago, used to talk to me about perspective. She said that it was like I was standing in a corner. And the only thing I see is the corner, and all I need to do is to turn around to see the other possibilities. And this concrete analogy has stuck with me for years, and I work hard to always open my heart to the other possibilities. Especially because my brain lies to me.
There are always other possibilities than the one your brain thinks of first. And usually, if someone else is doing something or saying something, it has nothing to do with you. It's like the 4 Agreements: Don't take it personally.
So, I'm digging into "what if they do mean it?" What if the compliments or the beauty others see is actually true? What if I am good enough and what if I lived from that space of "they see me in my work, and they love me and it. There is no ulterior motive," without allowing an old, untrue story to dictate how I take in the information others send to me or show me? This is a challenging thing to think about for me.
I was bullied as a child, from elementary school, all the way up through high school. In 5th grade -- at 10 years old -- I threatened suicide because the kids in my class were very mean to me. And one of the things that I came away with from those days was if someone is nice to me, it's usually a trick. Also, there's a belief within me that my friends don't actually like me, that one day they will decide I'm trash, and put me on the street.
I was taught these two things by the classmates and adults in my life. That they would betray me, tell my secrets, point and laugh. Because it happened to me, over and over. They're insidious, these thoughts. So much so that I thought I'd let go of much of my victimhood around the kids who bullied me. And it was a surprise when this thought came up for me.
These beliefs color how I take compliments. How I see the world. How I move in the world. It's as if everyone is out to get me. I play the victim like a pro. I should get paid for it! lol
What if I put down the victim role? What would THAT look like? I don't have the answers. yet. But it is an interesting thing to think about, and I love that I'm putting some pieces together.
And another layer is what happened to me at home.
I'm going to be frank here, as if I'm not already, but more so, I'm going to give details. Giving details is a hard thing because it's about my dad, and my dad could read this one day. I have no contact with him. And I worry about what he would think and feel.
I seek his approval. In all things. Even now, without speaking to him for years, and at age 41, I want to know that he's proud of me. But, at the same time, nothing I did (in my perspective) was ever good enough for him.
He pushed me to "succeed" in a way that I don't remember him pushing my brother. I believe he loves me on condition that I do exactly as he expects, that I do exactly what he wants me to do, say, feel, be, etc.
I'm a rebel for a reason. lol. I rebel against authority for a reason.
The problem with him loving me conditionally, other than the obvious, is that even when I did everything he asked of me, it still wasn't enough. I had gained weight, so his hugs became fewer (as if he needed to be attracted to me to love me. gross.). When I lost weight, only then did I notice how much more affectionate he became. That's fucked up.
When we would talk on the phone, he would let whatever he thought roll out of his mouth without weighing how what he said would hurt me. And here's the kicker -- I listened. I heard his disapproval, and I tried harder. I accepted it as my truth, and forgot all about the fact that I LOVE my life and how I live it.
I remember one conversation where in one breath he told me that he didn't know me at all and that he didn't like my lifestyle.
What? How do you know how I live if you don't know me at all?
Sometimes, I would try to fit myself into the mold of what he thought I should be, and came away exhausted and struggling to find myself again.
But his isn't advice or thinking that I should have followed or listened to. His isn't my truth. And I never learned how to really stand up to him. His is a big personality, and his anger is too hot for me. So, no contact is my way of standing up and saying 'no more,' even if he doesn't understand that that is the reason. I don't want to deal with an asshole anymore. I used to say that if he wasn't my father, I would not have him in my life. And it never occurred to me until many therapy sessions, that no contact is an option. And the best one for me currently. And that's in spite of the fact that I know that the above description is from my perspective, and from my own experiences and the way I view the world.
I can't say I'm steadfast every day with this decision. I miss him, or the father I'd like to have, more than I like to admit. But I'm happier now without feeling as though I have to justify every one of my decisions, or keep to idle topics because anything real just makes him angry. I do wonder if he wants to meet my son, whom I waited 4 years for (when I told dad about our adoption, he texted back 'awesome.' he couldn't even add an exclamation point. how sad. it's become a joke with my in-laws).
And anytime he told me that he was proud of me, it didn't register for me, because of the voice in my head that dismisses things like that. It's his voice. His is the voice in my head telling me I'm not good enough, that I didn't try hard enough, that I'm not worthy of any of the good things in my life.
But what if, his behavior had nothing to do with me? And everything to do with the mirror that I was for him?
In essence, he probably abuses and talks down to himself in the same way that he did to me. I'm not excusing it, and I'm certainly still working on forgiving him (for myself, not for him) because forgiveness has to be done in layers, I think.
Now, that is a shift in perspective! If I don't take it personally. if I put it all back on him. I was a child or a young adult still figuring shit out, and he was a fucking adult. I should not have been treated the way I was, and it is NOT my fault. If he was not as knowledgable as he thought he was about my life, than why would his opinions or advice have more weight than my own inner wisdom? It would not, actually. And if it was not my fault that he treated me the way he did, then does the victim role even apply anymore?
Would I be able to put down the victim role, put down the old playlist and revel in a new, shinier, happier recording where I know what I'm worth and I love myself unconditionally, the way he never did? I'm sitting in that possibility. And it's uncomfortable because the old playlist is blaring and dissonant and doesn't want to be ignored.
I think I would like to love myself unconditionally. I think it would be great if I approved of what I did, if only because I did it. If I agreed with these lovely folks who love my art and be grateful that they showed a mirror back to me of how lovely I am, even with all my cracks and faults. perfectly imperfect.
How's that for perspective?!