I am who I am. Your Approval isn’t Needed

I am who I am

I am who I am. Your approval isn’t needed.

True? Yes, true!

But kind of not true as well.

Your approval isn’t needed –

But it meant something to me.

The Rich and Beautiful

There’s a reason why we flick through all those glossy magazines and linger over photos, and read the interviews.

We want the scoop on famous people who’ve succeeded in some way. The film stars, politicians, great musicians, and so on.

It’s something to aspire to – and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Or, perhaps it simply highlights we’re instinctively intrigued by people who have made it, and are living out the dream.

But, of course, this also forces stark comparisons as well.

We’re not those kinds of people. They can make our life look bland.

This doesn’t really matter when we’re talking about ‘stars’. We aren’t in their league; we know we’ll never have their lives.

Bringing it Closer to Home

But when it comes to my small circle, then I want to feel I’m loved. I want to feel I matter, and that someone values me.

This is absolutely normal.

But why is that the case?

Why should I even care what other people think of me?

What the Research Shows

The research indicates it’s rooted in biology. To have a sense of self, and to believe we’re valuable, we need to have key people who communicate our worth.

It is something that is programmed – as the following quote reveals[1]:

Very early in life, parents’ responsiveness to their babies affects the development of self-confidence and self-esteem.

It takes little effort to summon a picture of a doting parent responding to a baby with loving noises, engaged chattering, focused attention, and cuddling.

Baby smiles, parent smiles back. As the infant matures, parents continue to respond and mirror what the baby is doing.

Parental mirroring through early childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood communicates acceptance, acknowledgement, and admiration.

This contributes significantly to the development of self-esteem and self-confidence.”

I would argue that this need continues throughout all of life. (Although it doesn’t matter quite as much in adult life.)

But, still, the way we notice people in those magazines might hint at a deep need that is a very human need.

The Impact of Rejection and Betrayal

These communicate a message, and a very painful one.

They say there’s something wrong with you – at least that’s how it feels.

They say that “I’ve lost interest”.

That “You’re not quite good enough.”

They say “I wanted something else, or something more than you.”

Why does this Matter?

Why? Our partner mattered to us. So, we wanted them to think that, somehow, we were special.

Good enough.

More than enough.

We wanted their approval.

And they gave it for a while.

But then they sent the message that

“You’re not quite good enough”.

[1] https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/effects-of-parental-involvement-on-self-confidence-and-self-esteem-0716134

Everything is Broken

 

dead flower

You might be wondering if you’ll ever recover because the struggle has gone on so long.

You might be thinking that you’ll never recover.

That the damage is too deep.

That the scars will never heal.

But that is not the case.

Things will gradually get better.

It’s just that we can’t see it when the darkness closes in.

The whole thing is a nightmare.

One we constantly relive.

We feel so tired and weary.

Is there no hope of relief?

 

These feelings are all normal.

It’s a roller coaster ride.

It’s utterly exhausting.

You feel so tired and drained.

But all of us go through it.  We’ve experienced that pain.

The sense of desperation.

The sorrow.

The despair.

 

But then you turn a corner, and you see a shaft of light.

A ray on the horizon.

A break in the storm clouds.

You feel a little stronger.

You feel that you can breathe.

Perhaps the wound is healing.

Perhaps you can go on.

A Shitty Life or a Wonderful Life?

The first draft of anything is shit

The first draft of anything is shit.” ― Ernest Hemingway

I think this truth can be applied to our life, and often to our relationships, as well.

The first stab at anything is nothing more than that.

A stab in the dark. A first attempt.

We act on instinct, repeating what we’ve learned.

Unconsciously living out the scripts and messages we’ve picked up from others, and have stored in our brain.

But perhaps it is time to start over again.

To start in an informed, and a more deliberate, way.

this is the beginning

And as you think of starting over, you can chart out a course that’s a lot more consistent with the way you want to live. (Bearing in mind, we don’t control everything … And, certainly, we don’t control everyone.)

Below are some questions to help you figure what you want from life and, what you might need to change:

1. What does a healthy and meaningful relationship look like to me? (Try to be as specific as possible.)

2. If I was living my best possible life, how would I look to an outside observer? (Happy, relaxed, contented, confident etc.)

3. How would I be feeling?

4. What kinds of things would I be doing?

5. How would I describe my life right now? How close is it, to the way I want to live?

6. How would I describe my relationships right now? How similar are they to what I really want?

7. What am I happy with; what would I like to keep?

8. What am I unhappy with; what would I like to change?

9. What am I putting up with in myself that is stopping me from living my best life? How can I change that? Am I prepared to do what is needed to change things?

10. What am I putting up with in others, that is stopping me from living my best life? What can I do to change that?

Quote of the Day

I have travelled through madness to find me.

I have travelled through madness to find me.”

That’s how it feels when you’ve experienced trauma.

The anxiety attacks.

The broken sleep.

Always wondering if the other shoe will drop.

The surges in emotions.

The terror and the fear.

The unexpected triggers that catch you unawares.

The times when you go crazy.

The times you cannot feel.

The dissociation.

The unreality.

It’s a terrifying journey

You think will never end

But eventually it eases and you find yourself again.

Dear Self, You are Beautiful

Do not doubt yourself

Do not speak badly of yourself – for the warrior within hears your words and is lessened by them.”

It’s a very sad and painful fact of life that betrayal causes us to doubt ourselves.

We start looking at ourselves with harsh, judgmental eyes.

And we pull ourselves apart, and we focus on ‘what’s wrong’.

We denigrate our body, and attack the way we look.

And we think that we are dull, and lack personality.

You would think that we were trash – how we’ve come to see ourselves –

Through that cracked or shattered mirror that we’re staring into now.

broken glass

But that’s isn’t who we are.

Those distortions are all lies.

We are thoughtful, talented and – it’s true – we’re beautiful.

How I wish we had compassion, and were kinder to ourselves.

How I wish we didn’t feel we were so inadequate.

If only we’d believe – and could really take to heart –

That this isn’t a reflection of our value and our worth.

 

Quote of the Day

Reclaim all that you are

We’re conditioned to believe that our worthiness and power come from being chosen. We meander around, hoping those who surround us would validate our existence and goodness. Your worth comes from choosing yourself, and your worth comes from reclaiming all that you are; to speak, feel, and do without the need for permission, or fear of what others would think.”

Salmal Helal

Your worthiness and power do not come from being chosen. They don’t come from being noticed, affirmed, or treated as special by anyone at all.

You are beautiful as you are. You are beautiful because you are you.

You don’t need anyone to validate you, or give you your sense of value and worth.

Today is the day to believe in yourself, to reclaim your power, and to honour yourself.

You are enough. That’s all.

Trust Me

If you knew

When your trust has been betrayed then it’s natural and instinctive to ask yourself the question, “Should I trust this individual?” Perhaps this is a question you are asking yourself now.

And I’ve often heard it said that ‘nothing’s certain in this world’. We have to take a chance. In life, there are no guarantees.

I understand this point. Be we don’t always blindly trust. We try to be as certain as it’s possible to be. And there are checks and balances in every area of life. These help to keep us safe, and they provide security.

For example:

  • Restaurants must adhere to health and safety regulations.
  • Our different health professionals are required to train for years, and they’re closely supervised before they practice on their own.
  • If we smell gas in our home, and we suspect there is a leak, we want someone who’s certified to check it out for us. We don’t just ask a neighbour or a family friend.

How do we build trust?

1. There’s a quote I came across in a great podcast recently which highlights the components that make up healthy trust. Here’s what it said:

Trust is an active responsible engagement with the unknown.”

This draws attention to the fact that trust is not just an emotion (athough it may include gut instincts and some powerful feelings, too.)

Instead, it’s based on checking out whatever needs to be checked out. And this will likely vary, depending on the person. (For example, was your partner using webcams, or an online dating site, or did they see a prostitute, or have countless affairs? All of these require different checks and balances.)

And you’re absolutely right to want to have safeguards in place. We need to feel secure, or it’s impossible to trust.

2. A second quote I came across is somewhat similar to this. It states:

Trust is the ability to tolerate the unknown.”

Tolerating the unknown is going to be more challenging if you trusted him before, and you were lied to, and deceived.

But even if you’ve moved on, and you have a different spouse, the trauma of the past will still affect the way you feel. We bring our history with us into new relationships.

In both these situations, it’s a choice we have to make … to tolerate the fear that is attached to the unknown. It’s ‘mind over emotions’ when we first decide to trust. But, hopefully, we’ll find that this gets easier with time.

And that’s if we decide that it is wise for us to trust ….

Project Hope

purple tulips

All is not as it should be.

But all is as it is.

And as it is

we can still see wishes in stars

and new leaves sprouting on trees

and shapes in the clouds

and silver webs with tiny owners

and flowers tilting toward warm sunlight

and love in our children’s eyes

and hope in the mirror.

Yes, it is as it is.

But it is also what we make it.”

L.R.Knost

 

So, no matter how despairing or desperate you feel,

No matter what has happened, or how dark the future seems,

Lift your eyes, and look around you.

Notice all the signs of spring.

Those beautiful reminders that life can be reborn –

Despite the bleakest winters and the coldest, harshest storms.

Quote of the Day

learn to be ok with people not knowing your side of the story

Learn to be OK with people not knowing your side of the story. You have nothing to prove to anyone.”

This is an important lesson to learn …

Not everyone will want to know the truth.

Not everyone will care, or understand.

There are plenty who are jealous, who see you as a threat.

They’d love to see you suffer; and they’d love things to go wrong.

So it doesn’t matter really matter if they “get it”, or they don’t.

Their viewpoints and opinions should remain irrelevant.

The only thing that matters is to take care of yourself

And shield yourself from people who have zero empathy.

Betrayal and the Dark Night of the Soul

but somehow the page stayed empty

Learning that you’ve been betrayed by your partner plunges you into a painful cycle of loss and grief.

Often the discovery comes as a shock, and the losses are more than you can even calculate.

– To begin with, you can no longer trust your partner or spouse (as they deliberately deceived you, and lied to your face.)

– Also, you feel you aren’t able to trust yourself (because you didn’t see the signs, and you experienced gaslighting.)

– And there’s the loss of the relationship you thought you had (which now feels like a lie and a fantasy.)

– Plus there’s also the loss of the future you expected, and had planned (as you cannot think ahead; and the whole of life has changed.)

Kubler-Ross and the Grieving Process

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, who studied death and dying, has identified five common stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. These are experienced in betrayal trauma, too.

Note: These stages are experienced a number of times, and are neither discrete nor linear. Also, grief follows its own schedule, is unpredictable, and often hits us unexpectedly.

For example, if betrayal is related to a sexual addiction, you might attempt to reduce the shock by telling yourself that at least your partner didn’t have sex with a real person (This relates to bargaining and denial).

But later you remember that he used webcams, and he paid real women to take off their clothes. Your response to this might be rage and disgust (which could also be equated with experiencing anger).

The next day, you feel too worn out and sad to motivated yourself to do any work (a sure indication that you’re feeling depressed.)

Then, as time goes by, and you start to find out more about the changes in the brain of a sex addict, you might have days when you feel you understand why your partner had succumbed, and done all those awful things. (This is the acceptance stage.)

Note: A crucial point that should be made related to acceptance is this doesn’t mean excusing what your partner has done. It will never be OK – and should never be OK.

Instead, acceptance is more about coming to terms with the fact that reality has changed for you.

It is also about starting to rebuild your life.

This is not possible in the first stages of grief, when time stands still, and you cannot think at all. With acceptance there’s a movement. We feel there’s been a change.

The Reality

The grieving process takes time. A lot of time. It takes much longer than you think it will take. It takes a lot longer than you want it to take. The losses are like tree roots that spread out underground. The roots go down so deep.  They’re extensive and wide.

How to Treat Yourself when you are Grieving

First, be gentle with yourself. Allow yourself to feel the pain and sadness. Let the tears flow. Allow yourself to rant and rage. Allow yourself to be antisocial. You’ll also feel exhausted a lot of the time.

And be patient with yourself. Grief and loss are terrible.

But it won’t go on forever. The pain will subside. You’ll emerge from the tunnel, and eventually you’ll feel those positive emotions you cannot picture now.