There are only a few times in our lives where we’re able to draw a clear thread from pain in our childhood to who we are today. Today I was able to access such a thread after listening to Brene Brown’s TED Talk (top 10 most viewed TED talk).
WARNING: This is a very long and personal post.
During Brene’s talk I wrote in my journal, “Is there something about me that if other people find out, I wouldn’t be worthy of their love and connection?”
The immediate word that came to me was, “I AM BORING!” After that unexpectedly came to my mind, I instinctively knew that I did not need to make a list. This was it!
At a deep subconscious level, I fear that if I were ‘normal’ that I would be ignored. I have grown up feeling that I’m not innately interesting enough for other to pay attention to.
According to my mom, I started going to daycare full-time when I was a few months old. From my memories of my day care years, I remember always being the first to be dropped off and the last to be picked up. I did not like this daycare.
The large majority of memories of my early life are from daycare and this makes sense. Putting the pieces together, I spent 9+ hours there everyday in addition to 1+ hours every day driving to and from the daycare. Assuming that I slept as much as Halle does now, I spent about 22 out of 24 hours of every weekday sleeping, at daycare, and commuting.
In elementary school, I went to a before-school daycare and than an after-school program organized by the school. One memory that sticks out for me is when I was 9 years old. It was snowing, so it must have been the winter, a few months after my father died. I was waiting for my mom to pick me up with the instructor for a long time.
I got worried that my mom had gotten in the car accident and died. I worried this before, but I surprised myself by actually sharing this with the instructor. He was surprised and tried to reassure me.
I am realizing for the first time in my life that I interpreted my mom’s actions as not wanting or caring about me. I felt alone. I did not understand what it meant for my mom to raise me by herself, work full-time, and commute 1.5 hours everyday. I did not understand that she was actually working much harder than other parents to make sure my needs were met.
The belief that I got was that I am not enough as I am to be loved. The coping mechanisms that I used were (1) Thinking about worst case scenarios such as the people close to me dying and reassuring myself that I would be ok if that happened and (2) Trying to be the best at something. These coping mechanisms became so entrenched in my life that they became invisible because it has become my identity.
Putting the dates together now for the first time, I won a 1-mile race called the Pumpkin Run a few days or weeks after my father died. This was the first thing I ever remember winning, and it give me quite a lot of pride. In grade school, one of my main focuses was trying to be good at every sport I played. This theme of doing everything I can to be the best at whatever I do has run deeply through my life.
This helps me better understand why I feel insecure if I can’t be the best at something. It threatens my #1 defense mechanism.
I don’t know how to move forward with this realization. I don’t know what a world looks like where I’m not spending every moment being productive, relaxing so that I can be productive in the future, or feeling guilty about how I wasn’t productive in the past. I don’t know that I even want to let go of this because I see the benefits of it, and I’m not sure I understand the costs. The communities I am apart of include people who are growing constantly, and I fear being left behind if I stop thinking of the world in this way.
These are not something that one just realizes and then everything changes. It will take time and healing to truly understand that I am enough as I am, that I am loved regardless of what I do, and that I am more than my productivity.
I am extremely thankful for this awareness
I appreciate who I am today. Therefore, I appreciate the past and everything that made me the way that I am. I would not have it anyway other way, and I look forward to the next phase of self-realization.
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