No matter how bad- ass unaffected I act it still bothers me when people don’t seem to like me. I am embarrassed to admit that recently, an acquaintance unfriended me on Facebook. When I realized I had been unfriended it awoke inside of me some old shit. Baggage I thought I ‘d mostly released. Insecurity. “Why don’t you like me?!”
I think it stems back to my chaotic childhood when I craved so desperately to fit in. Fitting in was an impossible feat when you moved every 6 months to a year and your parents were divorced and your mom was a waitress or a flea market hawker who worked all the time and you had a psycho step-dad and you didn’t go to church or have pets or a house.
I understood that my version of normal was very far from what normal was growing up in various small towns of New Jersey and Tennessee and lastly Florida in the 80’s and 90’s.
My friends parents weren’t drunks or druggies who dated men with names like “Hook”(I never did figure out what that nickname was all about). My peers didn’t have old clunker cars that barely worked and hand me down boys jeans and step-dads who beat the shit out of their moms and busted holes in the walls of their homes. My friends didn’t live with various relatives, moving on or getting left behind when their mom and step-dad had worn out their welcome. My friends didn’t leave behind half their possessions every time they moved, which was often. Even if one or two of my friends had a homelife like mine it was never discussed.
Growing up I don’t recall ever feeling like other families or even much like other children.
Truthfully, I was not like other children and I never had a typical family life.
I was parenting my parent and myself from 4 years old onward.
I was stoic. I was brave. I learned how to stuff and trap my feelings and opinions about my circumstances inside of myself because they didn’t really matter anyway. I wore a tough girl mask.
I developed great intuition and an excellent gauge of other peoples’ nonverbal communications, the tension in the room, the things that weren’t being said by the adults around me.
Around the same time hidden way down deep inside of me was a budding insecurity. A feeling of not being good enough. Not being worthy. Shame. I felt shame open a bottomless pit within me.
My gut instincts, insecurities and shame were fed simultaneously on a diet of adult commentary, judgment, interrogative questions and disapproving facial grimaces. They blossomed each time another humiliating parental event swept me up.
I shoved those stormy feelings down deeper within me and worked diligently on being the perfect child. Maniacally trying the only way I knew how to show the world at large that I was smart, I was good, I was worthy.
I became an impressive overachiever in school with impeccable manners and conduct.
All of my achievement and accolades felt hollow. They didn’t boost my confidence in the least. I always heard and felt the pity, the patronizing judgments of others.
As a preteen and teenager I rebelled . I dove headfirst into a sea of self destruction. I perfected defiance, apathy and rage. I became an amazing underachiever. I tried to drown any positive qualities or potential within me. I tried to extinguish my light. I bucked authority and told those same patronizing adults to “fuck off”. Yet, the shame and insecurities expanded ever larger.
The circumstances I could not control were controlling me.
Ignorant of that fact, I allowed my past to dictate my present for many years. Although I pretended otherwise it ate me up when someone didn’t like me. Especially someone who I liked or admired or wanted to get to know.
I am almost 40 years old and every once in a while my knee jerk response is to seek approval. Or assess why someone may not like me. What did I do? Despite the knowledge and wisdom gained with life experience and maturity. Things like: Often times peoples’ responses have very little if anything to do with me and more to do with them and what is happening in their own lives. It is impossible for everyone to like everyone. There are lots of people I don’t like. Peoples’ opinions of me are none of my business and since they aren’t paying my bills or walking in my shoes they do not matter unless I allow them to affect me.
Coming off of the post touting “Zero Fucks Given” bucket list living, here I am admitting that I am also a scared little lamb. But isn’t that the very essence of human. We are complex, incongruent multifaceted creatures shaped by life experiences.
Now what do I do with that niggling insecurity? How do I quiet the voice questioning why I got unfriended? That voice of shame telling me I’m not good enough.
I process it and I let it go! Easy peasy, right? Not exactly ……..
What’s my process? I run, I vent, I write, I sing, I laugh, I read, I venture to the beach. I surround myself with my favorite people. I try to fill my soul with uplifting healthy habits.
Sometimes though, my process includes less optimal choices like eating, drinking, shopping, smoking, isolating from the people I love. Those choices feed the shame and lengthen my pain and release process.
Either way I now know within myself that I am good and worthy and fun to be around. I know that I am a caring person, someone you want in your corner. I am enough, just as I am. I try not to allow other peoples’ actions and behavior to ruffle my feathers the way I used to. I recognize that I am in control of my present and my destiny. I get to choose my actions. I am not a victim of other peoples’ demons and I don’t have to feed my own. I am not that little girl anymore. I am free.
Am I the only person who gets caught up in this gunk? Share below if you feel me.