Feeling relatively isolated in Brisbane has forced me to take a very hard look at myself. It has led me to some deep soul searching and to confront the parts of myself that are hurt and to find out why. Why does [insert thing/person/issue here] irritate me so much? Why does ___________ make me angry? Why do I hate it when ______________?
For every answer I got I kept questioning further – ‘Why does that matter?’ and when I got that answer again I asked ‘Why does that matter?’ I kept going until I got to a core belief about myself which was, and if I’m right it’s probably the same for a lot of people, ‘I’m not worthy of people’s attention and time’. Maybe for others it would be ‘I’m not worthy of people’s love’. I then tried to identify what circumstances had brought about this belief from my childhood and I discovered some profound answers. I won’t go into them here as I see that as being too private for public consumption. One of my goals in life is to be the best possible version of myself I can be, the most authentic version I can be. So I see the process of self-discovery to be part of this. I thought I’d share it here in case there’s someone out there who may benefit from it. The rest of you still reading this are just being nosy! ;-p (just kidding)
I realised that throughout my childhood I felt rather insignificant. I’m 5 and 7.5 years younger than my siblings and I felt like I was a constant nuisance growing up, spilling drinks at the dinner table every night it seemed, trying to watch more grown up tv shows like everyone else and being marched back to my bedroom lest I see something naughty or a woman giving birth, you get the picture. My siblings’ education always seemed far more important than my own. From my perspective they seemed to be getting assistance, guidance, and interest from my parents (whether or not it was the reality doesn’t matter, perspective is everything in this exercise). Quiet, shy little me was left to float through my schooling, never quite achieving the same marks as my brother and sister, despite my mother insisting I was intelligent and school reports coming home with the same remarks: ‘she could achieve so much more if she only applied herself’. Even in high school I put in very little effort, I was bored beyond belief and so I entertained myself by writing – poetry, plays, screenplays, and always in secret – I fooled everyone into thinking I was doing my homework. My teachers rarely showed any interest in me. It was only in years 2 and 6 that my teachers actually noticed me and, lo and behold, my marks improved! Surprising that.
As long as I behaved myself and was a ‘good girl’ all was right with the world apparently. I don’t blame my parents for not taking a greater interest in my education, my mother has since expressed her regret for it without me ever needing to bring it up. I understand there was a lot going on in both sides of the family when I was young and I think they did the best they could while being preoccupied with more grown-up issues. But still, it left me with a sense that I wasn’t worth anyone’s time.
Cut to my adult life and I realise I’ve had a pattern of finding intelligent men and women who I admire and like a lot and desperately wanting their approval, their acknowledgement that I was an intelligent and interesting person, worthy of their time and energy. But even when they did give me some of what I wanted it was never quite enough, I was always left wanting more and more. This led me in recent months to ask myself why it bothered & hurt me that sometimes they ignored me, or didn’t give me as much approval as I wanted. Surely my husband’s love and attention should be enough? But it’s hard to quieten that hurt inner child, and I’d challenge anyone who is criticizing me right now to ask yourself, what makes you angry and upset? Then ask why? Over and over. I’m sure you’ll find your own hurts that sound unreasonable too.
Recently, I have tried to distance myself from those people I admire (in my mind and on things like social media too) so that I can try to give myself the approval I’ve wanted for so long. Undertaking a university degree is helping with this on some level, getting what feels like objective proof of my intelligence, but I also need to stop pursuing approval and acknowledgement outside of myself. I should be enough. I am enough.
Hopefully it won’t take too long to work through this process, or perhaps it will take my whole life, but I hope as I move through the worst of it I can eventually reconnect with those people I like and admire so much. There’s so much I want to learn from them and to just be with them.