Posted in emotional abuse

Conditioned to Fail.

I FOUND THE FOLLOWING WRITING IN A BOOK OF WRITINGS, A JOURNAL OF SORTS. IT IS DATED 2011, WHIHC IS THE CUSP OF WHEN I DECIDED TO DIG DEEP WITHIN MYSELF TO LOCATE MY HAPPY SWITCH. ALTHOUGH I STILL HAVEN’T LOCATED THAT PLACE WITHIN MYSELF I HAVE MUCKED THROUGH A LOT OF SUPPRESSED PAIN AND DISILLUSIONMENT IN WHAT I CAN NOW IDENTIFY AS MY QUEST FOR EMOTIONAL FREEDOM. I AM POSTING THIS BECAUSE I THINK IT IS INTERESTING THAT MY PAST WRITINGS INDICATE THAT I HAVE ALWAYS DANCED AROUND MY REALITY ALTHOUGH I WAS NEVER ABLE TO FULLY IDENTIFY.

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SELF-DOUBT, 2011.  
So in my hesitation and self-doubt about starting this blog. I started to recount all the reasons why I probably shouldn’t start it. And in all of my negative self-talk about how I really can’t do anything I started to wonder why I feel this way about myself. How I can go from being so pumped up about a project to the full-out knowledge that doing these sorts of things is meant for other people to do because I fail at just about every venture I try. “Why? Why do I believe this about myself,” I wondered. Well, I came to the conclusion that it’s probably because I have been told that I can’t do things as far back as I can remember and even continuing to today.

My mother and my stepfather poo-pooed everything I ever talked about doing for as long as I can remember. Maybe they were just playing “devil’s advocate,” but I don’t know, I think it really laid the groundwork and set the stage for me believing I am incapable of many things. 

My passion, the thing I have always wanted to do, is write. I’ll write anything. Since I can remember thinking about a “career,” which would probably be when I was a teen, ‘writer’ is what I dreamed of doing. Writing usually comes pretty easily for me, but having the self-esteem to show my work or submit my work has been difficult to say the least. They, the parental units, never took my writing aspirations seriously and came up with all sorts of reasons why it wasn’t feasible. “Who do you know who writes?“ Who does any teenager know who does anything? “How will you earn a living? You’ll be like a starving artist if you can’t sell your work.” Who’s to say I couldn’t get work writing for a publication of some sort I would say in whatever verbiage I was using at that age, “so do you think you can write for a deadline? You will have to write things that are due on certain deadline days, do you think you can or would want to do that?” 

Instead of encouraging me to show everything that I wrote and praising what was good or commenting on what was not so good, anything would have been better than downplaying my dreams. Then, when I was encouraged in college by a professional journalist to pursue a career in journalism (because he saw an innate talent for story-telling/writing in me) I was told to “go ahead, give it a try if that’s what you want to do.” It was not really offered with a very optimistic bent.

My ex-husband, notice the “ex” before his title made it a practice to remind me that I was pretty incapable of doing many things. He didn’t want me doing the food shopping because apparently I was too stupid to realize how to shop wisely and/or run totals against our budget while filling the basket. He did most of the cooking because although I was in my early 20’s and more than capable of LEARNING to cook, he believed that he would accomplish it better than me every day of the week and “I don’t know why you even try to make coffee,” apparently, I would never be able to figure out the right mix of grinds to water. He even had the audacity to comment on how I cleaned, our place, laundry, everything and I am an EXTREMELY clean person. So you’re probably asking yourself why I ‘took it.’ The first part of that answer is conditioning. Being criticized on MANY levels was all I knew, so isn’t that the way it is for everyone. The second part of the answer is, I didn’t.

Eventually, I got tired of hearing about what a loser I was from people who were not-so-well-off themselves, so I distanced myself from that marriage and my blood relations.  

Next, I fell into a relationship with someone who was even less capable than I was in most arenas EXCEPT charm. Although he never put me down, he sure as hell, brought me down to a new low. Shopping endlessly and eating without barriers I stopped exercising, gained weight and wrecked my credit. Now, I was starting to believe some of the things about myself that had been whispered in my ear all along. After too much time at a personal, physical low, I stood up, went on a diet, started exercising again and ran away from him and up to a higher ground.

Fast forward to the present. Now, I’m here. Married to husband number two and by choice, once again, completely cut off from everything in the past. After bouncing from one sales job to the next, finding success and failure in most of those positions, I decided there was little to no way to grow old gracefully in fashion sales and opted to convert my “skills” to a different career. That has been a challenge at best in a failing economy. I have a house. I have a family. And, not surprisingly, I have a husband who NEVER fails to tell me, on a daily basis, all of the things that I “can’t do!” Apparently one of the greatest factors on the list is have a successful career. What the heck?

Here’s the rub — I am in my mid-40’s, raised at a time where women were already liberated. We were told as girls, “you can do almost anything you put your mind to.” I grew up almost believing that, but as I got out in the world there was real, directly related to me talk about “glass ceilings” and “man driven businesses” and then the behind-the-scenes talk, at home being told by my family and partners “you can’t do that,” “women can’t do that,” or “how are you going to do that and have a family?”

I am just flabbergasted, as I look back, about my own feelings about myself, about how I have come to the conclusions about myself that I have. I know, it has a lot to do with the people that I chose to surround myself with, I take responsibility for that, and I don’t. I think that for all of the liberal, liberated views in this country there is plenty of double-standard, double-talk. I believe that for younger generations there are many things that are much easier and much more acceptable than even only a decade ago.

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I REALIZE NOW THAT I HAVE BEEN CONDITIONED TO CHOOSE THE ROLE THAT I HAVE AND IN THAT CONDITIONING I LEARNED HOW TO CHOOSE A PARTNER THAT WOULD KEEP ME CONTAINED TO MY LEARNED BEHAVIOR AND ROLE. 

I ALSO REALIZE THAT MY “CHOICE” TO “COMPLETELY SHUT MYSELF OFF FROM EVERYTHING IN THE PAST,” IS REALLY NOT MY CHOICE AT ALL.  INTERESTING, TO ME, THAT WE ARE CAPABLE OF SUPRRESSING PAIN TO THE POINT OF BEING COMPLETELY UNHAPPY AND DISILLUSIONED WITH OUR OWN REALITY.

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