Thursday, May 10, 2007

Where I Come From

What is up with the whole putting-myself-down thing? Huh? Why on earth would I do that?

Let’s explore the roots. A young girl, an only child for the first five years of her life until the birth of her brother, can do no wrong in the eyes of her parents. She feels good about herself. She knows she is beautiful and wonderful because her parents tell her so. She is shy, but she basks in the praise of her parents and ventures with trepidation into the big bad world called school. In school, she suddenly learns that she is neither beautiful nor wonderful. She also learns she is very smart and learns very quickly.

Fat = Not beautiful = Not popular
Not coordinated, athletic, or socially adept = Not wonderful
Smart, quick learner = Nerd = Not wonderful or popular

Yes, those were the early lessons. They were reinforced over and over throughout her school years. Even her younger brother, who for some reason was a skinny, athletic kid who, though just as smart as she, chose to ignore it for the purposes of school, tended to put her down as fat and ugly. Maybe he did it just to go along with the crowd. Maybe he really held deep seated hatred for his sister. Who knows? Back to the topic though, she concluded that her parents had lied when they told her she was beautiful and wonderful, that they said those things only because they were her parents and were blind to what the rest of the world saw.

Several times, each time her family moved, she thought that things would be different in the next place, that somehow she could be different and could be accepted in a new environment with new people. She was wrong. Kids are cruel. Kids are particularly cruel to the new kid when they already have their cliques established and don’t want or need an interloper in their midst upsetting the delicate balance of social relations in the kid world. This just worsens through pre-adolescence and the teen years.

At some point she developed a defensive strategy. She found that if she picked on herself before someone else had the chance that it often deflected the picking by others. If she called herself fat and clumsy and laughed at herself others weren’t so inclined to do so. It kind of stole their thunder and made it seem as though she wouldn’t be hurt by their barbs. She claimed the words fat and nerd and geek and clutz and clumsy and loser and wacko and whatever else she could and used them often to describe herself.

Eventually it became less a strategy than a reality. She started to deep down believe those things about herself, convinced that they were true. She longed for people to answer her self-putdowns with kind words, with denials that she was any of those things, that she was beautiful and wonderful. She rarely got it, and when she did, she scoffed and rolled her eyes and wondered why they would lie to her. There seemed to be no escape for she had convinced herself so well that it seemed no amount of assurance was enough.

Turning point. . .


Fiona said...

There are an awful lot of similarities between you and I in all that TS....

leavesdr said...

But that smart person has been smart enough to work all that out. Now perhaps she can start loving herself for being the beautiful person she has always really been.

Trueself said...

Fiona - Sorry to hear that. Not a good way to go through life. Glad, though, that you too seem to have gotten on with life and gathered a better attitude about it.

Leavesdr - Yes, you are absolutely right, and I will address that evolution in an upcoming post. Thanks for dropping by.

Fiona said...

TS a truly shitty way to go through life but without all we've gone through, we wouldn't be the awesome women we are today ;)

Trueself said...

Fiona - Yes, you are absolutely right. As they say, that which doesn't kill us makes us stronger.