I have always had trouble asking for help. Almost every time I asked my family something, I experienced this premonition that I would pay dearly for asking, that shame would follow. I felt like I should have known the answer or have figured out the problem myself, that I should have been smarter. Sometimes when I would come up with my own ideas, I was ridiculed because they deviated from the knowledge my family was accustomed to. It was just a couple of years ago that I understood that my family held onto information because that would give them strange sense of abstract power over others, to taunt others to make themselves feel superior, confident, better.
Growing up in communism, I was always ashamed to raise my hand and ask questions because this would mean drawing attention to myself, letting the world know that I didn’t know something, which was definitely a vulnerability that you didn’t want others to know about. If you were vulnerable, you were mocked mercilessly, and I experienced plenty of it. As a result of this, I hardened myself and refused to ask for answers or seek help. I always ended up in a library, doing my research, alone. Of course, that made me smarter and resilient, but I was also alone because I would never want to be vulnerable to rejection by sharing my thoughts with others.
My saying “leave me alone, I’ll do it myself” or “I don’t need your help, I’ll figure it out” were my survival tactic. By rejecting help, I was protecting myself from the pain I experienced from mockery and shame. I was shielding my heart from verbal attacks, betrayals and disappointments. I no longer expected or sought support and answers, and I never really believed that someone could validate me or agree with me. Nobody was there for me.
I learned along the way that I could not trust people. I felt broken and disconnected. I would never put myself in situations where I would have to rely on others so I would not have to be disappointed if they didn’t have my back or hurt me. My independence prepared me to strike before inevitable betrayal. I couldn’t trust because trust meant vulnerability, and vulnerability meant pain. All this was my response to rejection and trauma.
It did take me some years to gradually open and trust people. I did get hurt on the way, of course… It was a risk that I took to find others who would embrace me unconditionally and love me the way I am. What helped me was gaining understanding of my the origins of my trauma and the reasons why my family or the society I grew up in functioned the way they did. This understanding also allowed me to realize that I was never the broken one and that I had the power to break this vicious cycle of pain. My life is not perfect and I am not perfect, but I am gradually starting to believe that it is possible to be myself.
More questions for you:
- How did your family answer your questions when you were a child or a teen?
- When have you felt rejected or shamed in your life? What brought on these emotions?
- How did you cope with rejection?
- In what ways have you overcome the limitations of your past?
Would you like to talk about your answers? Schedule an appointment with me.