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#224823 - 05/18/08 09:43 AM Where is my self?
VLinvictus Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/05/07
Posts: 273
Loc: NY
I'm increasingly feeling like I don't exist, or rather that there is no real, unique core to my personality. I am plagued by the fear that everything that I am and everything that I have is nothing but things I have copied and adopted from others, that perhaps the things I like and am interested are not really so but things that I have convinced myself I should like and should be interested because others do and are.

I don't know what's wrong. Not too long ago I would have said that I was finally secure and strong in my identity and personality, that I had created and identity and developed a personality for myself and was ever more growing and actualizing my potential and becoming who I am.

Now I'm not so sure. I realize that there has been a pattern throughout my life of latching on to others -- older male role models -- and trying to mold myself to be like them, to take aspects of their identities and their personalities and make them part of me because I admired them (and also was in love/lust with them).

But as I have grown older and moved from adolescence into adulthood, these "role models" have ceased to be authority figures like teachers and professors but have given way to friends, persons to whom I should be as an equal. Yet that is not the case. I still feel like I'm playing catch up, like the person whom I'm involved with at any given moment is so far ahead of me in the race that I can't help but feel far behind, inferior.

One friend was very creative and successful in business, in physical fitness, and sexual exploits -- I strove to be like him because I admired him, but I came to resent the gulf between him and me and I think I drove him away. Another was terribly intelligent and erudite, on track for a Ph. D. program in history. He was cultured and hip and tuned in to things I couldn't even relate to be felt I should, since he was. Again, as my grad school career faltered and my dissatisfaction with myself increased, my resentment of him and the superiority I perceived in him grew. I fear I pushed him away, too. Now I have another friend, dearer to me than all the rest, than anyone else I've known. I love and admire him and cherish him and I know he feels the same. Yet, I see in him so many things I wish I had myself, both personal qualities of creativity, skill, and intelligence, and also incidentals of home life, income, sexual adventures, travel opportunities, and so forth. Several times now, the resentment that I feel -- not toward him but to the gulf between how I perceive myself and how I perceive him -- has boiled over and led to awkwardness between us. He protests that he's not going anyway, but I know it's only a matter of time before I push him away, too, and I don't think I can survive that.

Where is my self? Why can I not find some core within me that is real and admirable and respectable, desirable and enviable, that I can take pride in? Why can I not feel secure that I am my own person and that that person is good, intelligent, attractive, unique, and desirable? Where did this "self" go? Or, did I ever even have one and have only been deluding myself?

_________________________
We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.
~ Oscar Wilde

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#224825 - 05/18/08 10:17 AM Re: Where is my self? [Re: VLinvictus]
hogan_dawg Offline
Guest

Registered: 03/26/08
Posts: 492
I find a lot of my 'self' in written expression. Maybe you can too.

_________________________
I can say unequivocally that the lie of "To truly heal you must first forgive" has derailed more victims than the abusers themselves.
Andrew Vachs, 2003

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#224832 - 05/18/08 11:33 AM Re: Where is my self? [Re: VLinvictus]
king tut Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/13/08
Posts: 2465
Loc: UK
i understand you completely, it is actually about, in my opinion, feeling different.

We get abused, we feel different, there is so much to hide, so much to suppress, it is so confusing, we don't even know what parts to hide and which bits are ok, which parts of ourselves people will understand and which parts people will not. So we hide everything, we hide the abuse, and hide who we are. We get so used to hiding stuff that when we feel something which would give us a self we hide it in prefernce for something copied. It is very much a fear, it is us rejecting an idea of self because self is also that person that was treated so badly. It is just a reaction, an unfortunate defense and secret mechanism that makes us hide even the normal things just because they come from the same place that is still hurting, that little child left in the dark that is still afraid to stand up and say i am a good person. To recognise a self is to confront the pain and win, to stand up and say i am worth it.

It is hard to find a self because every time i try to spread my wings the old reaction kicks in about being different and the need to hide that. So it is a contradiction, to be a self is to be different, but we dont want to be different but still want a self. So it is really about being secure as an individual person, which is a very hard thing considering.

To make a statement of preference digs into the same deep places that hide our secrets and then to be a self can feel like your exposing yourself and you feel like your rummaging about down in that dark place where the free self is still imprisoned, like you are going and asking, hey little me, what is your favourite colour? and then going back out, leaving him locked up and saying, yes, my favourite colour is red whilst knowing that that little guy is still locked up down there and then oh my God what if somebody wants to know where i found out about my favourite colour maybe they will be able to see me cry inside, maybe i will tell you that my favourite colour is green instead.

And then the need to tell people your secrets, because you realise that it is part of yourself, you think that, ok, if i let them know my pain, then i can finally drop the burden and be myself, but at the same time you don't want the badness to be part of yourself, to be part of your identity, you don't want to be identified that way, even if it is to call yourself a survivor instead of a victim, so you drop the idea of self altogether, you say, i'll take a little bit of this and a little bit of that and mix it with morning dew, and that's all you have to do- but it is not- the pain is there, the real self wants to come out, the bad things don't have to be part of your identity, but rather your strength in overcoming those things. It is recognising that you have just as much right to be an individual person as everyone else.

The fact that i keep thinking do i really find this or that interesting or is it just that i think i should find it interesting, has an important message too. It tells me that i am afraid to recognise a self, that i am so afraid of what the rest of the world would think of me if they found out about my life that i am just hiding, afraid to be me because i am hurting, and that isn't really living at all. At some point i have to stand up and say, you know what, fuck you world, my favourite colour is red, i dont find clowns funny, people who talk about cars all day long are morons and dogs are better than cats. Which is exactly why i am bemused by the idea of finding and buying a pair of red shoes, not trainers, shoes, a pair of bright red shoes, because i've never seen anybody wear them before, i will just be saying, yeah, that's right, they are red, so fuck you, and i can do what ever the hell i want because i am allowed to be me. One of the things i like about science is i feel i can be justified in being different, i can just say, hey, what do you expect, i am a scientist (the best thing einstein ever gave the scientific community is the right to be weird, oh, and all the science stuff...)

_________________________
"...until lambs become lions"

I love you, little lewis, and i will never leave you. We are the same. You brighten my day, and i will make sure that i brighten yours. Hugs and kisses.


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#224837 - 05/18/08 12:04 PM Re: Where is my self? [Re: king tut]
GateKPR4 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 10/28/07
Posts: 955
Loc: North Carolina, USA
I can see myself in your post. Although I do not have the admiration I once did for others I had to stop comparing myself to these people. I did not have a good male role models and wanted to be like many men I knew. I could never measure up and would be resentful but it was me judging myself and not them judging me. I always felt less than the people I chose as role models or successful people.
Lately I have been thinking of going back to school but as a person with a 9th grade education and a General Educational Diploma (GED) I'm really not up to 3 years of adult education classes while all my peers already have a BS or degree.
Most of the time I am comfortable with how far I have come since I am at a disadvantage due to physical mental abilities. I am a little part of all those who I held in admiration and carry a little bit of what I learned from them in my life. Nothing is really new and not all those who I admired had qualities that I would necessarily would want. Some of those qualities come at a price I'm not willing to pay. I found it best for me to focus on what I have accomplished as a person and the things I have done that define my identity. It's not an easy question to answer and I think its even harder for us given the trauma we have all experienced.

I know I am a loving, caring person who gives freely of time and experience.
I did not always see who I am nor did I identify who I am, sometimes I still question it. All I have learned is from personal experience and watching others
that I thought had qualities that were admirable. Its nothing new humans have been doing it for lifetimes. Don't be too hard on yourself trying to figure this out.
I'm sure on one level or another we are all searching for our own identity.

_________________________
I'm a normal person dealing with abnormal experiences.
The greatest discoveries we will find within ourselves.
Ricky
__m_τΏτ_m__
|| || || || || || |

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#224995 - 05/19/08 06:28 AM Re: Where is my self? [Re: GateKPR4]
VLinvictus Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/05/07
Posts: 273
Loc: NY
Thank you for the insights, guys. I was in a bit of a crisis mode yesterday morning, but after taking a day to step back and think about my situation, putting limits on myself for the sake of sanity and accepting the limitations that I cannot change in the outside world for the sake of serenity, I was able to achieve a semblance of equilibrium. As to what today will bring, who knows, but I feel like I'm in a better place and forearmed against the next crisis.

Dan

_________________________
We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.
~ Oscar Wilde

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#225029 - 05/19/08 09:28 AM Re: Where is my self? [Re: VLinvictus]
dark empathy Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 1871
Loc: durham, north england
Dan, for a long while I've had to say "I'm me" and leave it at that. There isn't much else I can say, this isn't to say I'm valuable, it's just to say, ---- often I know in a quite stubborn and probably unpleasant way, that I'm me, and I like what I like, and I think what I think.

My bedroom is painted purple because I like purple. I studdy philosophybecause I happen to enjoy doing it, ditto with writing. I can't say whether what I do is good or not, ---- in fact the majority of the time I generally believe what I do is pretty dreadful, and I often can't understand why people tolerate me, but at least I am! me, and not something else, ---- and that's been a thought which has given me strength.

What you say about admiring others really makes sense to me, and in fact I recently raised this question with one friend (one of the people I've disclosed to).

I met him at the start of university, him doing the same course as me. We talked a lot and spent time together, ---- we even read each other essays and went to tutorials together.

it always seemed that he was so much better than me. that his essays were more interesting, what he said in tutorials was more insitefull, his tastes in music were more interesting than mine, etc. Often I felt completely outclassed by him, ignorant, narrow minded, stupid, clumsey and unlikeable, ----- the fact that he met his Gf (who he's marrying next year), at the age of 19 before I even met him and was verry happily with her didn't help much either, ---- neither did the fact that he has no problems at all with anything to do with S.

The weerd thing is, that when I told him about this, his response was that he was interested in me, that he liked my company, found me interesting, and in fact thought I was better in terms of our undergrad work than he was, and even though as recently as last Tuesday I wrang him up and cried down the phone to him, he stil wants to know me, ----- even more than that, he's requested i send him my poetry etc.

In a discussion as to why I felt so inferior to him, he actually thought thinking everyone else was more interesting etc than yourself was fairly universal. according to him,the only difference betwene the way he thought of himself, and the way I think of myself, is that he could see what he himself does as valuable, where as I can't.

I'm stil struggling with this idea, and will probably talk about it with my T, but perhaps it can be of help to you Dan.

I'm really sorry if this doesn't help, as I said, this is a question I'm really grappling with myself.


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#225036 - 05/19/08 10:22 AM Re: Where is my self? [Re: dark empathy]
MemoryVault Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 03/01/07
Posts: 693
Loc: NJ
Quote:
Where is my self?


He's there. You're not a chameleon, nor a wallflower. You're not one of those fade-into-the-background people. I feel that I have moods and phases where I really am absent and people look right through me--a survival skill I evolved-- but you have a presence that, to outside eyes, is distinctive and solid.

Quote:
Why can I not find some core within me that is real and admirable and respectable, desirable and enviable, that I can take pride in? Why can I not feel secure that I am my own person and that that person is good, intelligent, attractive, unique, and desirable?


Mean trick, I know, to take a rhetorical question at face value, but the "whys" are probably among the usual suspects. Emotional abuse, sexual abuse, the closet, being 'the smart kid' which means that most of what's going on in your mind is opaque to most people. Etc, etc. But the problem is one of perception, not reality. You have that core. And you have a self who is good, attractive, unique, desirable, and intelligent (can we just call it "GAUDI"?)

Why do we go on blocking our own knowledge of our GAUDIness? Why do our friends scream themselves hoarse telling us about ourselves? If you find that out, let me know.

Quote:
Where did this "self" go? Or, did I ever even have one and have only been deluding myself?


Do you know what my greatest fear is? I wrote this in my journal once. I still literally shake when I think about it.

My greatest fear is that I'm mad. Not that I'm going mad, but that my whole personality is a fake -- nothing I feel is even remotely like what anyone else feels. That all I do is simulate humanity--that somewhere underneath whatever I think I'm feeling, love or compassion or joy, is a little voice putting on the act so that it looks real. I fear that I've never really loved anyone or felt anything.

I know that doesn't make sense -- If you think you're feeling something, what external measure of "the real thing" is there to compare it to? It's as real as anything else. But that's my version of "Do I have a self?"

About the competition ...measuring yourself against other people, reassuring yourself by having something others don't, tormenting yourself by not having something others do:

Losing is losing
Winning is losing
Walking off the field is winning


You're a good guy and very real and very present, Dan. In spite of the fear above, so am I. Let's just be GAUDI!

David



Edited by MemoryVault (05/19/08 10:24 AM)

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#225081 - 05/19/08 01:55 PM Re: Where is my self? [Re: king tut]
LW1527 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 05/14/08
Posts: 408
Loc: Salt Lake City Ut
Man, do I relate to this topic. All my life I was different. When I was a kid, 9 years old, I tried to kill myself because I was different. There's part of me that hates being different and part of me that hates being like everyone else. Who am I? What am I? Why am I? It's now okay to be different because we just are. We are survivors, victims of horror. We are different. My identity is victim / survivor. I didn't start out like that at birth, but others made me that way. Everything I do is based upon that identity. The way I react and respond is based upon that identity. Who are we? Maybe we're still little boys and teenagers caught up in some psycho world of back rooms and dark nights. Maybe someday we can walk out of those back rooms into the sunlight. I think we are always evolving into ourselves. Maybe we are looking too hard. We are who we are, survivors. We cannot compare ourselves to anyone else because we are victims, we are survivors.


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#225514 - 05/21/08 08:12 AM Re: Where is my self? [Re: GateKPR4]
Trucker51 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 05/20/08
Posts: 2826
Loc: Denver, CO
GateKPR4:

A lot of colleges will accept your GED for admission, though you may have to take some remedial classes. I attended Cleveland State University 12 years after dropping out of high school and I was accepted on the strength of my GED. I spent a large part of my time there on the Dean's list with a GPA in excess of 3.5.

Full-time students at Cleveland State also have access to free counseling through the university, and there is a long-established male survivor's group they will refer you to there.

Detroit57

_________________________
"We stay here, we die here. We've got to keep moving". Trucker Mark



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#225519 - 05/21/08 08:31 AM Re: Where is my self? [Re: Trucker51]
GateKPR4 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 10/28/07
Posts: 955
Loc: North Carolina, USA
Thanks Trucker,
At least this gives me more hope for the future of attending school and getting a BS. Here in NC the community college is relatively cheap for residents and I can get the adult education to bring me up to college level.

_________________________
I'm a normal person dealing with abnormal experiences.
The greatest discoveries we will find within ourselves.
Ricky
__m_τΏτ_m__
|| || || || || || |

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#225553 - 05/21/08 10:53 AM Re: Where is my self? [Re: GateKPR4]
VLinvictus Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/05/07
Posts: 273
Loc: NY
I just want to thank everyone again for their comments. I was in a very low place when I wrote this and I seem to be coming out of it. I could write pages and pages of philosophical crap about how, really, there is no such thing as "the self" and that what I think of as "myself" is really a complex of relations with other things, but I'll spare you. \:\)

Two things that I know I have to work on are boundaries and acceptance of limitations - to set limits for myself to define myself and to accept that I can't control everything. Easier said than done, but the past couple days I've had more success by consciously trying to do this.

Thanks,

Dan

_________________________
We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.
~ Oscar Wilde

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