This past week I have come to realise that I have a habit, no it’s not alcohol, or smoking, or any other illegal substance…its saying I’m fine – when the reality is something different. It’s as if I can’t say how I really feel to people and so this has led to the familiar terminology that now seems an everyday occurrence in my vocabulary “I’m Fine”.
I spent time this week in my therapy thinking about why I do this, and it’s really got me be waxing the old grey cells. I guess I grew up in an environment where it was best to feel nothing and to want desperately to please people, today despite no longer being in that emotionally abusive environment I still have the need to please, to try so hard to be ‘normal’ whatever ‘normal’ is, and to not admit life some days is down right hard.
I spoke to my daughter about this habit of mine, I asked her if she’d noticed this particular trait in me, and she sighed and smiled and nodded her head, it wasn’t the response I was hoping for. I wanted her to tell me I wasn’t always saying things were great, I wasn’t always saying Yes when I really needed to say NO, that I didn’t say “I’m fine”. Sadly the harsh reality is that I do have this habit, a habit formed out of years of psychological abuse.
Looking back I have always tried to be ‘Super Women’ which I know I’m not, but I felt if I could fill my days with external achievements, get people to like me and accept me then maybe just maybe things would be alright. I could say I had dealt with the past when in reality I was just boxing it away and not dealing with it. If I acted as if I was ‘normal’, coping with life, then maybe just maybe the past that haunts my every day would be somehow be lessened.
But the harsh reality is “I’m Fine” is not a good thing to keep saying, especially if it’s not the truth, trying to please or fit into society just piles on the pressure and doesn’t help in the long-term. The truth is I am who I am, and right now that means if I am honest I’m a bit screwed up by the damage caused from years of childhood trauma and the prolonged and protracted psychological abuse that continued well into my adult life.
I am on a journey of healing and that is going to take me some time and it’s not an easy journey to be on either, I have to face my demons and accept that the impact of all that abuse has really messed up my thought patterns and my own image of myself, it’s caused me to search desperately to be loved and accepted and most of all to fit it to the world around me.
Hence “I’m fine” or the number of different variants of this I use have been a great response to deflect the truth,they have allowed me to seek the acceptance that I still crave and to not face up to the harsh truth that I am hurting and finding daily life difficult. Living with Dissociative Identity Disorder isn’t easy, I have to spend a huge amount of my day doing internal dialogue, trying to give time to the alters, and many more things in order to function as a multiple.
In my past I had little positive reinforcement, I was made to think I was a failure, no good and well that everything that happened to me was my fault. I was told I was never good enough in every walk of my life, so no good at school, no good as a daughter, no good as an object, no good as a parent. My mother would continually and constantly put me down and make me feel inadequate and so I tried desperately to please her, to make her proud of me, to make her love me, but nothing absolutely nothing worked.
I had positive reinforcement from my Dad, but in my childhood when these self images and default positions were formed he wasn’t always around, that wasn’t his fault just the circumstances of life that my Mother kind of ensured happened. Infrequent positivity wasn’t enough to stop me forming a belief that I was a failure and some how not good enough to fit into the world. My former husband of over 25 years was good at telling me I was loved and good, but again it couldn’t shift the by now well-developed thought patterns that I had formed. Even my children telling me it was ok to be honest and that no matter what they still loved me hasn’t been enough to shift these thinking traits that exist to this day.
So instead all my adult life I have tried desperately to fit into society, I found it hard to say NO to people even when it was what I needed to say, and I have found it impossible to admit that I am struggling to live with my past, and the disorder that formed as a result, my Dissociative Identity Disorder.
I realise now that in order to heal I have to be honest, not only to others but more importantly to myself, I need to admit that it hurts to have been rejected as a child, to know that your own mother never loved you. I need to prioritise my healing, learn to say NO and instead of desperately trying to say “I’m Fine” be honest and say if its been a tough day.
I need to not still be searching for the acceptance that I never got from my mother, but instead self nurture myself and reinforce positive things in my days. I guess I need to retrain this brain of mine to learn to like me and learn that just maybe my thinking that people won’t like me if I’m honest is flawed. I don’t need to search for acceptance anymore, I don’t need to keep saying I am fine if I’m not, I can just be honest and if people don’t understand that, well that is their issue not mine.
I doubt anyone who has lived my past would be in any different a place from where I am now, childhood trauma or psychological abuse at any age skews how we think about life and ourselves. It’s so easy to find ones self craving to fit in, or be accepted and to think you just need to please other people in order for them to like you. It’s so easy to take the default position of thinking you must not admit if you’re struggling or having a tough day, hence my habit of “I’m fine”. So from now on I need to say if I’m not fine, that doesn’t mean I am going to spew out all my past, it’s just a simple statement of today’s been a bit tough.
My mother didn’t love me I can’t change that and she is no longer here to try to get her too and even if she were I couldn’t make her love me.
But I can stop trying to feel like I must please others and I must fit in, after all they say you can’t please all the people all the time and well wish as I would I’m not Super Woman. I’m just Carol a survivor of a really tough and difficult past and I can’t help that, it wasn’t my fault and there was nothing I could have done to change that.
I can’t change my past but I can change my future even if that’s tough to do, I just have to hope people in my community, my family and my friends can understand that this is who I am. I need to hope that people will accept me for who I am and not for what I do, that people will support me through this journey of healing and if by chance I say “I’m fine” perhaps say “really?” so then maybe I might be able to remember that I need to be honest and not put on a front in order to please or be accepted.
Am I fine……well not really right now but one day, maybe one day I will be.