Updated: Dec 10, 2019
Relationship With My Past Self:
I hated myself as a child. I hated being vulnerable. I hated being powerless. And I hated, without being able to name it, being abandoned, unappreciated, controlled, and manipulated. I hated being a rat in a cage.
I still hate those things. Especially about my childhood.
We carry a lot of issues into adulthood from childhood, and many of us who were (knowingly or unknowingly) damaged by our parents spend many adult years looking to heal things we aren’t entirely aware aren’t normal or healthy.
But still we act out and hunger for something.
It’s a very hard task because we try to find surrogate parents and make it their problem to fix us. I did this for years and it almost destroyed me. In some ways, it did. And it hurts other people.
Even if we go to therapy, or do our own research and realize what we’re doing, even if we’ve always known that we are looking for that parental love and guidance that we didn’t have (or had a grossly damaged version of), we carry a lot of pain and angst. Grief.
There are lots of incredible resources to help you through this process. They all boil down to the basic truth: that you must do this for yourself.
That you must get your own resolve, that you must heal without asking the people who hurt you “Why?” or for the validation of setting them straight and getting their apology.
That you must love yourself.
That if you hate yourself, you must do what it takes to love yourself.
And these are really true. And there are many ways to do this.
But I want to share with you what works for me. I haven’t heard it put like this before, and the best thing about it is that you don’t have to do a lot of work, just have a realization.
The most haunting thing about my childhood is that I felt no one was interested in who I was. No one cared. My physical needs were well met (awesome), but the essence of my self, my likes, dislikes, dreams, goals, tastes, beliefs were either ignored or ridiculed, shamed, drowned out unless I "towed the line", agreed with those in charge. Differentiation was torn out of me.
The environment was joyless and I felt very powerless and hopelessly trapped.
Human beings weren’t designed to be trampled down and feel trapped. I’m sure you know exactly how unbearable it is to feel endless bleakness stretch in all directions without relief.
I was torn between seeing a beautiful future so clearly it had to be true...and despairing and shutting down entirely.
And I hated myself for being stuck there.
For not dying in childbirth.
For not drowning when I was 5.
For not being brave enough to run away like I fantasized about.
For not knowing how to make a close friend who would let me stay with them, or at least be there to remind me that there was more to life than just the way I was being raised. To broaden my horizons and to see *me*.
For not aspirating in my sleep.
For having nowhere to go.
For not knowing what to do.
For doing things I hated doing.
For not being able to say no, or not able to enforce “no”.
For not knowing how to earn money in a way that didn’t give me nightmares and leave me a drained husk.
It was many years later, I had a job (that I hated) and I had achieved some big goals (to me), but I was still hating. I was filled with an endless rage and helplessness still. At myself, at people in general, at my upbringing, at my ex- who wasn’t what I had needed them to be to me, at a system where I was disposable and degraded every day.
It was one of those quiet moments where you just get too tired to keep feeling any more, and you have to look on the bright side and be grateful because you can’t die on command. You know what I mean?
Here is my run-on stream-of-consciousness on that:
I had been told no so much in so many ways and been made to feel I would never get out much less live my dreams and I would never get to find myself because I basically had to be what I was told to be and yet here I was surrounded by so many dreams come true and I had done it and I was working through things I didn’t even know about myself every day and....how had I gotten here when no one had cared about who I was and what I wanted?
Because someone had cared.
Because someone hadn’t given up on my dreams.
Because one person thought I was not ridiculous and not shameful just enough.
And it was me.
It was 5 year old me learning to read and write and it was 10 year old me watching shows to learn design and humor and about nature and it was 15 year old me joining band and writing lists of things to do before I die and it was 20 year old me switching my major (even though I wish I had dropped out) and trying to blog (badly, for myself only), and it was 25 year old me getting together with a person who helped me grow in ways no one else had or probably could and working at a job to save money and get a start somehow...
I always fantasized about a time machine where I could go back in time, kidnap and raise myself away from a toxic and damaging environment. That I would set myself free.
But it dawned on me, truly, like a dawn, that in fact, child-me, not future-me, had in fact been the one to rescue me and set me free.
With each decision and each effort, even the “unsuccessful” ones, I was delivering myself to where I actually wanted to be.
Without realizing it.
Do you realize that about yourself?
You didn’t do it alone, and it was a very winding path with wrong turns and huge mistakes but ultimately you were the pilot and navigator who worked with each co-pilot in your life.
Even when the co-pilot acted like they were the real pilot. They never were. You are.
With each opportunity and person in your life, *you* put in the work to go along with them: for better, or for worse, or to reroute.
Just understanding that someone had cared, accepted, believed in, and loved me all along, healed something inside of me very suddenly.