“Nobody will ever love you if you act like that.”
This was the phrase I always heard as a child. Whenever I tried to express my inner fears, anxiety, worries, concerns, hurts, pains, insecurities, abuses, or upset in any way, some variation of it would come out.
My father didn’t know how to deal with my emotions–so he denied me and shut my emotions down. I became a master repressor and suppressor thanks to this. The poor man was gifted a daughter who feels emotions at very intense extremes, it made him feel like he was failing I’m sure–but it’s just who I am.
Unfortunately, his inability to sit through or help me through my emotions when things got rough led him to being cruel to me, telling me my emotions were out of line– burdensome– and that the expression of them would someday make me unfit to be a wife or lover to anyone. I heard the words all the time in a plethora of variations; “No man will want to marry you if… No man will love you if… Nobody will want to be your friend if… nobody will put up with…”
I now find myself trying to open up about my insecurities, to be honest and vulnerable, and every time after I do it, I feel worthless and undeserving of love after. I feel like a burden. I don’t see why anyone would want to be in my life, have me around. I see no benefit or profit that I could provide to those around me. I feel truly shamed and worthless, simply for expressing myself–simply for existing. I recluse into myself and my mental prison, convinced I’m making everyone’s lives worse and they’d be better off if I wasn’t around.
The annoying spiral of this is that usually the things I need to express are insecurities. I need to express them so I don’t project cruelty onto people I love. (Another wonderful perk of being raised by a narcissist–my learned habit for dealing with repression is projection). So I try to be vulnerable sooner rather than explosive and cruel later. Then the guilt of having expressed myself comes on, and my father’s voice rings through my head, “Nobody will love you if you act like this.” That triggers more insecurities, which I then express and feel guilty and shameful about, and eventually I self sabotage everything good in my life.
The script runs through my perception of every interaction. “Nobody will love me if I disagree with them, if I have a bad day and can’t smile at them, if I don’t like how they’re treating me and ask for better treatment, if my depression or anxiety is acting up and I need someone outside my mind to ground me back to the shared reality.”
I can’t help it, the script plays silently in the background of my mind (because I’m so good at the repression) and before I know it, I’m stuck in hours/days/weeks of shame and self hatred mode–dissociated, emotionally distant–feeling abandoned even though I’ve chosen the prison for myself at this point.
I’m finally hearing this voice that I’ve suppressed for so long, because I’m opening up my mind and becoming more cognitive. I’m hearing it and it’s so painful and so strong and so overpowering and overbearing I just want to scream. But the person I want to scream at won’t understand or hear me–he can’t see past his own defenses. I want to run away, but the voice lives inside my own head and so I cannot run from it. I have to fight it. I have to go to battle, over and over again, with this voice that I just wanted to get away from forever. I keep trying to get away from it.
I distanced myself from my father, and those who project his words and will onto me through expressing things on his behalf. The distance from my father doesn’t make his voice disappear from my head, unfortunately. Also unfortunate, I literally cannot be around him anymore because he adds to and exacerbates this voice in my head and makes me literally want to die by ripping my body to shreds with my own bare hands. I wish I could fix this–but until I feel heard by him or I can overcome this voice entirely I can’t take it. I literally want to die when I’m around him. As awful as that is to say about one’s own parent, dealing with my father literally makes me want to kill myself.
I understand the voice is wrong. What its saying is not true. I understand I am deserving of love. I bring a lot to my relationships. I am empathetic and supportive an helpful. I am smart and creative. I am beautiful and stylish. I am talented and hard working. I am worthy of friendships, relationships, love, life, happiness, experiences, and otherwise living out my dreams. I understand those things, I do.
But I don’t believe them.
Hell, sometimes I find it hard to believe that veggies are good for me and eating them can improve my health. In fact, most of the time I don’t believe food has any purpose but to make my stomach stop growling, even though I know thats not true. I just can’t find the will power to believe in things that are good for me being possible or true.
Anyway… my brazen expression and sometimes overdone vulnerability (like now maybe?) is a result of my fight against this voice. The voice says a lot of things–but really its always giving the same message. I don’t deserve a good life, a happy life, a lover, a family, a career, success, friends, etc. It’s always a variation of that horrible sentiment. So yeah, I come off as fearless or confident because I am vulnerable and outgoing in my expression…. but that’s because I am actively fighting my demons pretty much every second of every fucking day. My demons are mean af and I can’t fight with violence, so I’m fighting with words and logic. Its exhausting and terrifying and constant lately.
I’ve fallen in love. I want to allow myself to trust in love and let myself work toward and have a future with this person. I am having a hard time even allowing myself to be emotionally present though. I am having trouble not isolating myself. I’m having trouble reaching out. I am having trouble with this fight against the voice.
But I really want to believe that love is possible for me in this lifetime.
So I fight.