The only person who knows your deepest truths is yourself.
The willingness was there, a notion pondered, and in the coming days an internal dam bursting had developed. It was just a headline of a story I had skimmed over, one that must have set in somehow, because I saw it four more times before reading the article. It was about a study in the European Journal of Personality, on the emotional needs of children and the meeting of their psychological needs. The piece centered on the aspect of developing strong internalized values that help shape self fulfillment later on in life. That same fulfillment, if missing, can lead to the need for outside validation later on in life.
As I was reading it, the mannerisms and emotional pieces that it touched on hit nerves that I didn’t recognize at first. After reading it though, the willingness to entertain that I was somehow invalidated as a child didn’t take much time at all to unfurl some truths, and then some more. The eventual learning about myself that has come from just this one aspect of my ID, has led me down a slope I am still trying to find the end of.
In this practicing that has developed over the years, one of the major tenets is to be willing to examine things. In this I was willing to examine the possibility that my emotional needs were not met when I was a child. I wasn’t willing to believe it was done intentionally, that just didn’t ring the truth meter. But I was willing to believe that in all of the life that went on when I was a child, that mistakes were unintentionally made, or just not known about at the time. I remember well many times when my emotions were over the top, my frustrations were boiling, and expressing this to my Mother meant a literal “aww, poo, poo” response. Or I was sent to my room to destroy the lath and plaster walls once more. I remember well being drug by my shorthairs to my room by my Mother when I was in Cub Scouts and she was our den mother. I knew I was acting up, I knew she was right too, but I also felt like I wasn’t important, or a “part of” because of it as well. These few memories came within moments of trying on the “I was invalidated as a child coat.” I do not feel anything but love for my Mother, so these thoughts made me uncomfortable, and I took off the coat for a while. Was I just doing some kind of grand manipulating and self diagnosing here? You know, the kind people warn you about?
I didn’t put the coat on again knowingly, but over the next few days I felt its wrapping embrace. Pieces of life began to fall into order, huge questions about why I am the way I am became pointedly clear. I found my jumping off point, that time when everything changed, because now I know why it happened. I know that I have been diminishing myself since then, because that is the lesson I took away from those experiences. When I was a child, I was surrounded by my large family, and in their best efforts to “teach” me the best of things, walked right over any emotional needs or questions along the way. Of course what the child thinks wasn’t on anyone’s mind back then, just behave and obey. I was laughed at as much as with and I came away with the notion, it’s not what I want or need, it has nothing to do with me, it’s all about others. I even wrote about a part of the jumping off point recently, it also showed the invalidation I felt, although the emotion being examined is coined as love, love is trust, and faith, and so many things.
The young boy stood up when his name was called, his clothes a combination of Sunday best hand-me-downs from his large family. With weak knees he walked up to the table in the courtroom. The man in the black robe, the Judge he knew, was going to ask him a question about his family life. The question was if his Mother and Father loved him, if he felt safe. This could be it? They could take him away from his Mom and Dad, and in that moment he spoke of all the love, all of the everything that they meant to him. In tears of the thought that he would never see them or his brothers and sisters again, he showed the truth of that love, the world that he knew. There was an issue with his oldest brother, who at that time was just a monster in his mind. His oldest brother would have to leave the home, would have to stay away from this young man who he had terrorized with violence and molestation. That was not his parents fault, he poured out every ounce of love he could possibly find in that courtroom. The family was allowed to stay whole, the oldest must leave the home. Within a few short years the oldest brother would be allowed back home. The love that the boy had given wasn’t enough, it wasn’t good enough for anyone, they had to have the love from the oldest, not his. Those years that followed that day in court were filled with the throwing up of walls in every direction. The distrust of what people were telling me, the acting out in hopes someone would break a wall, show me my humanity. I could have been so many things, but I regressed into the fear of my own walls. I didn’t apply myself to life, I applied myself to the other thing, the destructive things. How could I love myself if my own Mother and Father didn’t was stuck in the back of my head, never good enough. I know today what a bunch of malarkey that is, but I didn’t know it then, I made sure to reinforce my bad thinking with bad behavior just to prove I was right.
That was just one aspect of the big jumping off point, years, in my life. From around eight years old to about fourteen is where it stands right now. These things avail themselves as they do so that timeline may change. Around eight years old and the family unit that was so big, comfortable, and safe, began to disperse. Brothers and Sisters were moving, their energy and understanding gone as well. That emboldened my oldest brother, who has his own laundry list of mental issues to harm the youngest two of us. The ensuing court case, the feeling that you have done something horribly bad, that you had hurt Mom and Dad so much by being here for him to do that to you. The embarrassing shock of group therapy with schoolmates filling up some chairs. The School District closing and shuffling around of many of its students during that time. Toss in puberty, and you have an awful mess there for anyone to go through, let alone a growing boy. One who was overweight, large for his age, and made constant fun of by others, and an anger issue. Life was all about what others wanted, what others felt, I learned, and taught myself to diminish, but not on any playground level. I was genetically imbued with some sort of high idealisms, something I learned about much more recently. I had to diminish myself on every level, and I became extremely effective at it. Over the years of being “not important” I took on the parts of my siblings personalities that were looked on as relevant, important, or valid. Things that would get the outside, external inputs to notice you, to be agreeable. I had made myself into a mimic, a character put together from others emotions and inputs. As much as a character on a big screen as anything ever found.
Back then the emotions of males, little boys, weren’t considered as they are today. They were brought up tough, a John Wayne blueprint applied to the whole lot, and anything different just had to be driven from them. My parents were not strict to nth degree, they were compassionate and understanding. Yet, the times of the day were what they were and just like today, the world was more and more dictating what you did and thought in your socio-economic bubbles. Back then boys had a blueprint and girls had a dress pattern, change was hard on our parents too. So as I found myself simply doing some kind of morphing into something else all the time, the need not to feel came sharply into mind, at the same time opportunities came around on how to achieve that numbness. There was nobody around at home, Mom worked all day and was tired afterwards. Dad worked the swing shift, and didn’t come home until late, and usually half in the barrel himself. Drugs and alcohol were soon all around my social circles, beer and pot were the fun things to do. I acted up more and more at school, they didn’t care about educating me, it was just more orders and babysitting. I learned that the punishment for being bad was being alone, and when I was alone I could be myself, do my drugs and alcohol, and not worry about a world that didn’t care about me anyways. I also noted just now that that is when the suicidal ideation started up. That ideation that would replay in my mind every day, sometimes multiple times, for the next thirty years. I was not worth anything, I truly believed and honed that skill. I diminished myself physically, stooping over to shorten my stature, speaking softly or in a different voice as not to scare people. I learned how not to have pride because I deserved none. I learned it’s only me, and I don’t matter.
Through all of this self help, recovery, and practicing, I can look at these things in my past that have shaped who I am. The fears I have and where they come from. This is one of the bigger ones for me personally, because at this point in life I am simply looking for a purpose. I have no children, no lasting anything to leave the world except these bits and pieces of myself. That purpose couldn’t anchor down to anything though, that persistent and deeply strewn chain of being invalid has left me unable to accumulate self worth beyond a moment or two. The things I do, that I produce, and make, don’t bring about a sense of any accomplishment really. There are no internal atta-boy’s being had because I can’t let that happen. That would give me value, and I know the truth kind of routine. That diminishing of myself comes across as invalidating others and faux humility. Yet in needing some kind of validation from outer sources to feel anything at all, it looks like extreme Narcissism. No wonder people don’t know how to take me, I am constantly giving a mixed reaction, unknowingly asking for two separate things. Then mistrusting the responses because I wonder where they are coming from?… Yes, I intuitively knew that even with my best thinking, and all the work to get here, that with this bit of understanding, I was way more messed up than I thought I was. But, it’s my truth, and there is nothing more that helps me understand the world outside is understanding the insides. It’s not always fun, and to be honest it sucks to read some of the headlines that come out of doing it. More work, more understanding, and more places that you can toss that pity blanket with the wallow weave over. The good thing is though, as these things become apparent, they don’t exist the same anymore, they take a place on the shelf, the tool in the box, and the blanket simply has nothing to cover after some time.
As I said, understanding of myself has also helped me understand others. I didn’t develop an internal sense of value, of being a valid input to anything beyond that of a spare part, and afterthought. I looked for, and emulated others to do that for me because of unintentional consequences for having to get things right or wrong, to be taught, to be quiet. That same effect is coming across in society, and our younger generations as well. Searching for a value, being validated by others, and trying to find an identity has been relegated to a standard. The strong needs of emotional validation isn’t written into the two working parent equation. Even if afforded the time and ability to be close, doesn’t always mean that the child’s emotional needs are being met when they are being run through the obstacle courses society has placed on our very young. The emotional needs of older people cannot be forgotten in this as well, as to understand and accept the entirety of the changes going on today, their own idyllic childhood, and value systems would have to be adjusted accordingly. On either end of the spectrum today, none are spared. These are just some of the insights that have raised their head these last few days, there is so much that it encompasses that I will have more at a later time. In searching for a purpose, I found I needed to have a value, and to the degree and depths that I have dug this part of me in over my life, that is going to be harder to attain than just going through an epiphany. Trying to get there as if it’s a place isn’t a wise plan, but trying to get somewhere is always healthy when you are searching out your ID-Entity.