I made a decision today to force myself to read the next section of Beautiful You and make an entry in my BYJ. The reason why, is that today, I had a serious attack by Hilda. It’s somewhat ironic that today’s topic for the BYJ is focused on replacing what you heard that gives you the negative image you have about yourself.
So, the idea is to understand if what you are hearing in your mind is your own voice or if it is someone else’s. The author goes on to suggests replacing the negativity with things you would rather have heard.
For me, most of my negativity doesn’t come from my parents growing up. At least the negativity I have generated isn’t from anything direct. They never made me feel like I was a horrible person, but when I did bad things I felt horrible. They were always encouraging and always empowering. Granted, my parents imposed a different “gift”. They had pushed me and my siblings to always be better than what we felt we could be. Through many therapy sessions, I have learned that this could be the source of some of my anxieties – I have a difficult time accepting myself, unless I am performing at 100% of my ability.
Another source of negativity was, growing up, I was somewhat of an outcast among my peers. I was not the popular kid, I was not the kid that all the girls liked and even in questioning my sexuality, I even wondered if guys liked me. Of course, there is the cliché that kids are cruel, but my case in point, here are some of the negative things I had heard at times: “Fag”, “You’re such a girl (I’ve come to embrace this on some level), “He’s got a nice ass, but he’s ugly”, “You make a better friend, than boyfriend”, “You’re slow”, etc. Of course, some of the comments I remember are vulgar and much worse.
Some of the worst things I heard that’s had the worst impact on me, I’m embarrassed to admit, have come from the person I have been with the past 20 years: my wife. I’ve hard so many things attacking my character, my beliefs, the things I love. On some level, I have always accepted this as part of the relationship process; on another level, it defies decency, in my mind. Some things I felt were true and needed to be changed. And some were just outright mean.
But in the interest of understanding where the negative comments come from and offering something I would have rather heard, I will post them. I will give what I tell myself (Really, it’s Hilda saying it), where I think the source is from, and what I would have rather heard. Here is a small list:
1.) Kids running by me in gym class or during track practice with their asses pushed out to mock me. Obviously, this was kids being mean, but it hurt at the time. I would have rather they just kept their stupid thoughts to themselves.
2.) “He’s got a nice ass, but he’s ugly” The source was from a friend when he asked a girl I liked what she thought of me. It’s not my friend’s fault, but a nice, “She’s not really interested” would have been so much better. Also, the girl could have said, “I’m not interested, thank you.”
3.) “Was this your best effort?” This was a common thing my parents would say. It wasn’t directly negative, because their interest was in making me the best I can be. This is tough, because I’m not sure what a positive way to tell someone that you are aware of their ability to do more. I suppose on some level, this is something utterly internal and something I am still working on. But this has created a crap-ton of anxiety in me.
4.) “Fag“. I’ve talked about this before, but it is something that bothered me as a kid. I’ve been called this by different people at different times. Some of them were aware of my sexuality or behaviors and some were not. Even my wife has called me this during arguments, along with a few other colorful things. What I would have preferred? If you don’t like me or my choices, if it doesn’t affect you, leave it alone.
5.) “You’re not a man”. There is so much dichotomy in this for me. I mean, on the one hand, I have grown to accept and appreciate some of my feminine traits. On the other hand, as a man, I also have enjoyed expressing my masculinity. But this negative opinion always seems to happen at times when I am feeling horrible about myself and my abilities as a husband and father (A true dichotomy for me). Granted, there are times, when I think my wife, for example, wanted me to lead or wanted me to be the shoulder she needed at the time, and I might have failed her in those circumstances. But from her, I would have preferred her to simply tell me how she felt, instead of making it a personal attack. for everyone else? I suppose I’d just want them to fuck off…but that’s not exactly positive…so, maybe, they could not have said anything, huh?
6.) “You’re such a girl“. At various times in my life, this has bothered me. But at other times, I have embraced it as a bit of a compliment. I have come to realize that I am a complex individual, and there are times when I want to hear it as a compliment, but I have never enjoyed it as an insult. Teasing, I can take, but to bring my own self-doubts into question is a direct insult. I would refer to #5’s preference in what I would like to happen.
7.) “You have no business in a relationship”. This has only come from my wife and myself. It feels like an attack on my ability to be loved. I feel unlovable as it is, and to have it confirmed is a knife in the heart that I can’t comprehend. This is something that has been combined with “You make a good friend” in the early years of my life that have led me to believe that I am incapable of having a relationship. One of the many reasons, I did so well in school is that I had few friendships and even fewer girlfriends (I had not accepted being bisexual, so I never thought about having a boyfriend). I developed a sense of being “logical” and scientists became my heroes. I even thought Mr. Spock from TV’s Star Trek was the perfect person to emulate – I could be cold, hard, calculated. That was going to be the ticket to success for me. It wasn’t until I got into serious relationships that this became a problem for me. It became apparent that I didn’t relate to some things very well. But at the same time, it was confusing, because my most common compliment growing up was that I was so conscientious of other people’s needs. Looking at this situation – logically, of course – the only person who ever felt I was not good in a relationship was my wife. I think what I would prefer her to say, is “I don’t want to be in this relationship with you, Tar” or even “Look, I want to discuss ways we can communicate with each other, better, so that each of our needs are being met”.
I’m getting wordy on this post, and trust me, I can keep going. Unfortunately, I have gotten to a point in my life where I have accepted the negativity much more than I should. And I know the greatest source of that negativity and I hate admitting it to myself. Truthfully, it’s why I am blogging – this is my escape from negativity, so I can feel some positivity. But I know, I need to actively begin replacing the negative things I’ve heard with things that are positive.