Friday, May 2, 2008

27 going on 17

Isn't it amazing that something said to you 10 years ago can shape who you are today and how you function as a person? Many times I've heard people reference therapy as a thing for "broken" people and people with "problems". While that can be true, I personally believe therapy is for everyone. When you think about the complexity of communication and all the things that need to go right in order for your message to be received as intended, it's no wonder we don't understand each other! :)

Though I'm currently 27 years old, my emotional being stopped growing at about 15-16 years old.

In the past two weeks, I've encountered a few scenarios where I was feeling "left out" (sounds childish doesn't it). It was through recent therapy that I was able to have one of the biggest breakthroughs of my life in understanding how and why I tick the way I do.

Growing up I was the youngest of 3 kids. My sister and brother were significantly older than me (5 & 8 years older). The two of them did and still do share the same friends and are best friends themselves. I was always the one "left out", picked on, called names, etc. I never felt like I fit in. I was always told by my mother (and siblings) that I was too sensitive and was a "drama queen" always making bigger deals out of things than they were, while my dad looked on with no words of encouragement or fighting for me. I'm often told (by my sister) how big of a brat I was. Was it a defense tactic on my part? The message to me was that who I was wasn't okay and that's why I was always left out. This carried over into my friends, who were ruthless when it came to ganging up on one person. And yes, that was usually me - the ganged up on one. Is there some reason why I've attracted these types of people to me? So, when I met my ex-fiancée in high school (a much older man), was it any doubt that I clung to him with full force, leaving my friends and family in the dust? Never mind that they all warned me about him. In the end, I left everyone for him, and in turn, he left me for another woman. Again, the message was, "Who you are is not okay - that is why I am leaving you."

Fast-forward 10 years to me now. I hate confrontation and couldn't figure out for the life of me why I was always so uncomfortable around my family. Why I would get anxious driving to see any of my family thinking, "What are we going to talk about, so it's not weird." Why I get so intimidated so easily by certain people. I've still been told to this day by my family, "Don't dwell on things", "You're so weird", etc. I STILL don't fit in. I was once told that when I get around my family, I'm a different person - my defenses go up and I'm always on guard. I thought they were crazy and imagining things, but now I see, they are right.

I've always felt alone, awkward, unsure of myself, intimidated, etc. And while I'm 10 years older now, that 16 year old girl is still very much functioning inside of me. Could this be why I strive for excellence and never give myself grace? Why I constantly stay busy and have to be apart of WHATEVER I'm "privileged" enough to be included in? Why I cling to any and all invites I get from others, even if I don't really want to do what's been asked?

I've believed for so long that I deserved to be left out and not included because I'm weird and "different" and that's not okay. I'M NOT OKAY. - The phrase brings tears to my eyes every time I think of it. I feel as though, very few people have taken the time to really get to know ME - they've all been quick to criticize, but not quick to love.

The only companion I had through it all was food. It comforted me; it was always there for me to cheer me up, etc. In the end, it's functioned as a literal and physical protective barrier for me. Is this why I get sudden urges that I need to lose the weight and lose it now? Because the more the "truck girl" comes out, the less the barrier is needed? Or is it the eating disorder talking?

So, now I get it. I understand my teenage-self. Anytime I feel that I'm being left out, it triggers all these emotions and stirs up hurt, disappointment, self-hatred, etc. within me. The feelings of not being enough, but being too much at the same time. The feelings that who I am is unlovable. The feelings that if I was anyone but myself, I just might be included.