It takes some of us longer than others to find our feet. I really hope that I am not the only person that can relate to this but hey if I am then thats okay too. It feels like it has truthfully taken forever for me to achieve that sense of self and to feel at ease and at home in my own skin. I spent a great portion of the last 40ish years of my life not feeling that way. My younger years were distorted by abuse that happened at the hands of a non family member and I grew up with my confidence through the floor. I was such an unhappy child. I know that I was reactive to things and I felt like I was continually scrambling to avoid sinking under the crushing weight of anxiety that came from those times.
I think that this is on my mind because I will watch another child of mine Graduate from High School in a few days and oh the relief that floods my soul that he does not have the same degree of hang ups that I had at his age.
I “acted out” in my teenage years. It was probably the first glimpse of my questioning and doubts about some of the things that I had seen growing up in a hyper faith church, and around some very dysfunctional adults. I will never forget one time, as a 14 year old, when my hollow bedroom door blew shut while some people were visiting! My door had a habit slamming and rattling and was one of those things that my parents were going to get fixed but they were really super busy and it wasn’t like a door that could slam with no help at all was really high on the list of priorities. Anyway the visitors deemed the loud door as me being deeply rude and disrespectful and the visiting adults proceeded to yell, scream and carry on about everything that I was not and how awful I was, when in fact, the wind had blown my door shut. These people had terrorised my childhood and it was always a case of “be on your best behaviour” whenever they were around or all hell quite literally broke loose. That moment was the beginning of me understanding that sometimes people were NOT right just because they were older than me, “further along in the faith” “my elders” etc etc etc. It is possible for adults to be entitled, abusive, angry people and they would go on to prove themselves to be exactly that, time and time again.
That was the first time that I distanced myself from someone and I was right to do that! It would be years before I would personally have dealings with them again. I called it at 14 and wish with all of my heart that I had kept to what I felt back then but hey hide sight is 20 / 20! In short, after a lifetime of this and other unacceptable things happening, I was hurting and put myself into situations that were unsafe at times. Up until then I was always so keen to please, trying to gain approval and trying to feel like there was value in me. I felt like I needed to find a way to banish the self loathing that had entwined itself so fully into my heart that I struggled to find where the loathing stopped and I began. I was in a cycle, self loathing, disordered eating behaviours, placing myself at risk, giving people that did not see my worth power over me, and when I was treated poorly, then self loathing again. It was a pervasive thing that found its way into every single part of who I was.
I found some sense of belonging and feelings of self worth inside Christian teachings – but not the hyper faith movement that I grew up in. In that particular shit storm I found judgement and happy clappy, fake purveyors of a slick, shiny religion that diminished everything down to a point where everything became about being able to do things to earn love.
It would be years and years of feeling broken and trying so hard to be good enough before I would have a moment of total clarity. I had had some horrible complications during pregnancy and someone said that if we did not come and see them immediately they would be leaving the church. In that moment I checked out. I realised how often I brought into that, how often I put my own health both mentally and physically, on the back burner for others. Now thankfully I do not do, or give, anything unless I can freely and willingly do so without the thought of it ever benefiting me in any way at all and as long as it is not going to damage my emotional or physical well being.
I have little time for that type of thing now days. I have a couple of jobs, a busy family and I have found that found game playing, jumping through organisational hoops, being at church every single time the door is open and unrealistic expectations of week nights out on a regular basis are all things that I am just unwilling to do. I am excluded from certain things because of those choices and I am 100% good with that! I would far rather everyone know exactly where they stand with me as opposed to seeing someone on Sunday and then a different person entirely during the week.
I also feel like this needs to be said – I am a nicer, better, kinder person since I stepped away from the pressure of the hyper faith movement. I look back over those times in my life when I was struggling to fake it till I made it and all I made was myself and others miserable!! My god I was awful at times. I was so fricken miserable and I took it out on other people and I will have to live with those consequences for the rest of my life BUT the thing is – I will live. I refuse to just stay stuck and stagnate as I was. Weight loss surgery saved me. As my fat left, so too did the loathing and bitter hatred that I courted for myself. The frustration at not being able to be the person that I wanted to be because of my weight, diminished, until I knew that I would only ever be held back by my own limiting beliefs and that was a very happy day indeed.