Today’s story of therapy and healing – I Saw Patterns – comes from a middle-aged woman who gave me permission to share her story anonymously here.
I Saw Patterns
I found myself in the middle of a dissatisfying life. I felt constantly betrayed. I kept attracting drama and toxic people and I couldn’t figure out why.
There were pieces of me that were screaming for attention and begging to be healed.
The messages kept getting louder. Self sabotaging behaviour. One relationship after another not working out. Bitterness set in and life was lacking in passion. The question was how to heal myself before I ruined my life completely.
I realised that this negative pattern was trying to teach me something very important about myself.
Childhood dictates adult behaviour
I had learned to behave in a particular way during my childhood. In these formative years, this type of behaviour brought benefits. Various kinds of negative behaviour took place within my dysfunctional family. Emotional manipulation, criticizing, playing the victim, sarcasm, withdrawing, silence, placating and people pleasing. Every family member chose their tactic . My choice was to be the one who placated and pleased everyone to keep the peace.
As I began therapy I discovered that I had a terrible fear that I would lose love, approval, belonging and comfort if I expressed and lived authentically. I had no idea how to set clear boundaries with people. I regularly permitted people, friends, lovers and family members to take advantage of me emotionally, financially, sexually and take me and my time for granted.
My parents had taught me to behave this way to get any kind of love, affection, attention or approval from them. I had learnt to ignore my own value, needs and wants in favour of my family.
My perfectionist mother would often pick on me and I learnt how to become whatever she needed including her confidant. She would share things with me that only adults should know. My father was a workaholic and I quickly learned to understand his job and speak his ‘work language’ to get his approval.
To survive my family I had to put aside my interests and my voice and focus on the needs of others. This became my survival tactic for life.
Saved by therapy
I’m so grateful to my therapist who gently led me to see this, providing space for me to reveal myself. For the first time I felt seen and heard. I slowly learned to take responsibility for my behavioural patterns.
I didn’t need to change – I needed to find that part of me that I had lost when trying to survive. My core self. My authentic self.
I have worked on healing my inner child. I looked at myself and my ‘negative behaviour’ with self-compassion. Step by step I started the journey of making peace with myself. I created new memories of choosing my own needs before those of others.
The process has been long and difficult. Sometimes I fall back. But I’m more aware now. If I find myself starting down the road of people pleasing, I stop and take stock and realign my behaviour.
I saw the patterns and allowed them to speak to me.
This is Day 16 of My 66-day Journey of Healing Through Writing and Sharing. As I mentioned in my post yesterday, I might be reposting some posts that I wrote a few years ago – mostly personal stories or those shared with me by others which talk about emotional pain and dealing with it.
If you have a story you’d like to share anonymously on Everyday Gyaan, do contact me. You can be assured that I will keep your name and details confidential.