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#422195 - 01/15/13 11:53 PM self-consciousness
traveler Online   confused
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/07/06
Posts: 3392
Loc: somewhere in Africa
I can remember being agonizingly self-conscious at a very early age, like about 6 years old (the age the abuse started.) I now think this is unusual – more like abnormal. As an adult, when I have observed young children, I have been amazed at how un-self-conscious they are. Even to the extent of running around nude outdoors with no embarrassment. I wonder if that is one of the effects that the abuse had on me – a focus upon myself – my body, my thoughts, my feelings - that was premature and unhealthy. I know that there was anxiety from a very early age, too. (I have to stop talking about myself in that objective, detached way. I have to start owning the thoughts and feelings totally.) I know that I felt a lot of anxiety from a very early age, too. I was nervous, insecure, fearful, withdrawn and very self-aware, introspective and introverted. I worried about the future - what was going to happen next, who was going to say or do what. I was wrapped up in my own feelings and thoughts – “daydreaming” was the way it was interpreted by parents and teachers. This led me to a form of Narcissism – not the self-loving kind – but a more negative and critical self-obsession where I was always super concerned about how other people were seeing me, thinking and feeling about me. Appearance was only part of it. Their opinions and reactions were way more important to me than they should have been. I was tied up in knots with desperation for approval, affection, affirmation and acceptance. I became perfectionistic and an over-achiever academically and artistically.

The upside of it is that I know myself and understand my motives much more clearly than many people seem to. I never went through the “Who am I?” phase or felt like I needed to “find myself.” In fact it was just the opposite – I knew very well who I thought I was and wished I could me somebody else. That sel-absorption – unlike the psychological definition of “Narcissism” also helps me to psych out others pretty accurately and instinctively. And empathize with their feelings. I also became very observant – sort of the plus side of hyper-vigilance – which has helped immensely in my art, writing and acting. And I think I probably think more seriously and deeply than many “normal” people and started doing it at an earlier age. People thought I was very smart and precocious as a kid. I’m not bragging about that – I felt like a misfit – not as if it was an advantage! Also I think it might have helped in therapy – to have already figured out some stuff about myself and how I think and react already so that when the memories came along and I started making connections, things fell into place much more quickly.

But I am still very introverted, worried about how I come across to others, and self-obsessed. I am inhibited, often paralyzed by feelings of insecurity, inferiority and inadequacy. I don’t ever feel like I fit in or belong in any group.

Now I am realizing that I have spent way too much time in self-examination and criticism. It was necessary while going through therapy but I need to turn it down.

I’d love to get out of my skin and be more self-forgetful. But I don’t know how to do that – how to turn off the mental mirror. It happens once in a while – when I am totally absorbed in a book or movie or music. Rarely, I can get totally caught up in an experience – while traveling or viewing art - and like Emerson’s quote – “I become a transparent eyeball; I am nothing; I see all.” But it is one of those ironic impossibilities – the more you strive to become self-forgetful, the more it eludes you. I am NEVER spontaneous – unless I plan carefully to be! I always habitually examine everything before I act. And as soon as I realize that I have been losing myself in something – I ruin it and it is gone!

I can’t help but wonder if this might be an alternative reaction to abuse – instead of going away into neverland or dissociating to the point of becoming a different personality or identity – I get stuck in the one I’ve got and obsess about my “self”?

Does anyone else relate to this?

Lee
_________________________
As my life goes on I believe somehow something's changed
Something deep inside...
I've been searchin so long to find an answer
Now I know my life has meaning
Now I see myself as I am, feeling very free...
When my tears have come to an end I will understand
What I left behind: a part of me. Chicago


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#422203 - 01/16/13 03:19 AM Re: self-consciousness [Re: traveler]
peroperic2009 Offline
Moderator
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 10/09/11
Posts: 3607
Loc: South-East Europe
Hey Lee, wow, what a insightful and deep thoughts smile
I can related to being self-conciseness since early age. I'm not sure what is cause of that nor how started, I've jest remember how I was turned down by my parents if I'd ask something with great curiosity and when they would say something just to to get rid of me. I was not hurt because they didn't give me proper answer to my question but rather by their stance like: "he is small kid he doesn't understand the thing": I wanted to tell them that I'm aware of their glances and whispers and how they see me as inadequate and unequal. I waned to say them that I understand a lot of more and that hurts me when they are talking in front of me like I'm not there - that was when I was five or six years old.
In primary school I was eleven years old when math teacher caught me writing love message to my first crush - girl that seated behind me wink
He approached me and said: "give me that paper!" pointing on my closed hand and slowly approaching me. I was scared like hell, but I thought to myself on that paper I wrote my intimate feelings (there was written just: I love you) and they could do whatever they want I don't give myself if I don't want. So I just look at him ans said. "I'm not going to give it".
He was upset seeing my resistance so he demanded it couple more times and I just stared direct into his eyes and said: "I won't". Those two minutes were the longest minutes in my life and he gave up, lol.
I'm always trying to be connected to my surroundings and environment even when I sleep I want to be ear open window and to hear sounds for outside for example. Or I can't listen loud music with my headphones I need to be able always to hear everything around otherwise I have feeling like walking trough the darkness.
There are some advantages of being so aware, for example I was seeing couple of times that some fight starting in huge crowd (I was out), my friend was surprised when I said: "it seems like some fight will happen soon" and point to crowd in front of one club. Five minutes later some pushing and yelling between couple of people started.

But there are a lot disadvantages. For example if I want to talk about something important and if I spot slightness sign of indifference in person to whom I talk that can very easily stop my wish to talk. Or if I've seen that my words and their meanings don't reach other side that can catapult me into some negative spot.
If I'm talking with some my close friend or family member and I can't get understanding than I've felt so lonely and isolated wondering why people can't get it, why is so hard for them to understand me.... Many times I've been giving up explaining further, more words for me sometimes means more misunderstandings.
Or for example I have verbally abusive uncle (he has PTSD), I used to live at his place for couple of years and from time to time I have to visit them. I have a lot of problems lately with him there. I can't stand slightness sign of his nervousness and toxic remarks toward others (especially to my nephews and cousins)..

I'm not sure how all this tolerate with abuse, but definitely I found some answers in this post about sensitive people:
http://www.malesurvivor.org/board/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=377303&page=1

Pero
_________________________
My story

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#422205 - 01/16/13 04:46 AM Re: self-consciousness [Re: traveler]
crazy gecko Offline


Registered: 10/04/12
Posts: 309
I relate... and yet I don't really. I can remember feeling really self-concious as a kid. I guess it came from the fact that I could never do right in my father's eyes and I always thought of myself as a bad kid. His punishments and what we were punished for never made sense or stayed the same from one day to the next, so I assumed that it wasn't really about breaking rules. I was being punished simply for being me. I tried so hard to be a good kid but I could never get it right. This lead me to spend hours obsessively examining everything I did and everything I knew about myself in order to figure out what was wrong with me.

But then I got older and the abuse intensified. I started to dissociate, and then I discovered that drugs could help me get out of my own skin. Between the drugs and depersonalisation disorder, I spent most of my teens and early twenties in a state that is the complete opposite of any kind of narcissism. I had no idea who or what I was. I was so out of touch with myself that I couldn't even name my emotions, no matter how hard I tried, and often felt like I didn't exist at all. Failed to recognise myself in the mirror and all that...

Today, I also seem to be able to read people more easily than the average person. I've always put that down to the effort I had to go through to find myself, and all the time I've put into understand the human psyche, in an attempt to understand myself.

It's odd, really, if I think about it. I think I can understand the emotions and motivations of other people better than I understand my own. confused

I flip-flop wildly between being irresponsibly impulsive, and over-thinking little things. I decided to get married, got engaged and got married, all within 6 weeks. And yet I can spend hours, days or even weeks obsessing about insignificant things...

What I can totally relate to, is feeling paralysed by insecurity and that you don't fit in or belong to any group. I feel like that too - I'm the perpetual outsider, always maintaining that wall between me and everyone else.

One of the hardest things for me to do is to phone someone I don't know really well. It's so hard to read the other person's reaction over the phone and I'm terrified that I could come across stupid. Writing - like on here - is so much easier because I can take my time to understand what the other person wrote, and I can also take my time formulating my response...
_________________________
I guess what I'm trying to say
Is whose life is it anyway because livin'
Living is the best revenge
You can play
-- Def Leppard

My Story, Part 2

My blog

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#422286 - 01/16/13 06:28 PM Re: self-consciousness [Re: traveler]
traveler Online   confused
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/07/06
Posts: 3392
Loc: somewhere in Africa
yes, pero - that first paragraph especially is the sort of thing i am talking about - being very intuitive of others' non-specifiv communications and feeling very hyper-sensitive and victimized by it. and you are my HERO for refusing to give up the love note! amazing bravery for a small boy.

and gecko - your first paragraph, too - that was my life, exactly! i hadn't thought about how this might have some of its roots in the way i was always being severly and minutely critiqued by the step-dad on EVERYTHING i said, did, thought or DIDN'T say, do, think...
_________________________
As my life goes on I believe somehow something's changed
Something deep inside...
I've been searchin so long to find an answer
Now I know my life has meaning
Now I see myself as I am, feeling very free...
When my tears have come to an end I will understand
What I left behind: a part of me. Chicago


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#422300 - 01/16/13 07:51 PM * [Re: traveler]
Smalltown80sBoy Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 03/25/12
Posts: 2217
*


Edited by Smalltown80sBoy (04/29/13 02:07 PM)

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#422301 - 01/16/13 08:02 PM * [Re: traveler]
Smalltown80sBoy Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 03/25/12
Posts: 2217
*


Edited by Smalltown80sBoy (04/29/13 02:07 PM)

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#422412 - 01/17/13 05:20 PM Re: self-consciousness [Re: traveler]
LazyPirate Offline


Registered: 01/03/13
Posts: 106
Loc: Ontario
I don't exist. I'm a stranger in my own skin. Count my fingers, they're all there... But who's are they? I drive the car, but it feels like I'm watching tv. I could crash the car, because I'm not really here... It wouldn't hurt. Why go to work today?... I don't exist, but I have a job? What the fuck? Hyper-vigilant. Everything's accounted for... Are the shingles still on the roof? Yes. That's good, that's where they go. I'm floating. I hate people, they always look at me & want to talk. I would like to say to them that I can't talk, because I'm not real. Words sound dumb when I think about them. People are looking at me.

>>>>> That was me for my teens & twenties (sometimes I actually miss it!). I was never a drug user, so it isn't some side effects of a bad bag of little pills. I now take meds that help a lot. Dissociative depersonalization is what the psychiatrist called it. I also have the pills for depression & it helps. I still don't really like interacting & I'm horribly self concious of everything I do. Even with my wife, I have a hard time being naked in front of her. I have a bit of a fear of intimacy... Being too close for too long is hard & I have to get away. I forgot what else I was going to say... Cheers!
_________________________
The Bluebird of Happiness long absent from his life, Ned is visited by the Chicken of Depression. - Gary Larson

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#422469 - 01/18/13 12:43 AM Re: self-consciousness [Re: traveler]
Lancer Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 07/13/12
Posts: 901
Loc: Florida
One of the best threads I've read in a long time, Lee. Thanks for posting it.

And I relate to so many of the stories here I don't know where to begin.

One strange thought I had while rereading it was about the term...and it may not be such a negative. Self Conscious. You alluded to it, Lee. You said you were more aware of yourself than others are aware of themselves. Indeed, you are self conscious. Jettisoning for a moment the social stigma that term implies, it seems more like a medal you should wear.

You also mentioned the hypervigilance and being able to scope out people pretty quickly. I'm glad you see that as a positive. I do. Provided I act on that intuition - it's virtually second nature now - I'm sure it's saved me a lot of problems.

I'll add that the self-critique may not be such a bad thing either, used the right way. We're both artsty-fartsy types, Lee, and had to endure our share of critics, right? In many ways it's made me a better artist/photog...but has really plunged me to the depths of despair sometimes, too. Like I didn't already have a problem with depression. I've never quite verbalized this, but given my family history and years of therapy, I also have a clear idea of when a critique has crossed into abusiveness. That's where I draw the line. I have no qualms confronting the person, telling them to knock it off and walking out if necessary. Having had a lifetime of practice, too, I can keep it deadly cold and unemotional. They usually don't see it coming.

I suppose what you're saying (and I'm saying) it comes down to is - forgive this one guys, please - if life gives you lemons, etc. blush


(And LP, thanks for the laff "Are the shingles still on the roof?" I had a bout of shingles late last year that the guys here carried me through. The answer is, "No, they're on Lancer's right leg!"). laugh Arrrrgggg....

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#422633 - 01/19/13 12:45 PM Re: self-consciousness [Re: traveler]
LazyPirate Offline


Registered: 01/03/13
Posts: 106
Loc: Ontario
lol!
_________________________
The Bluebird of Happiness long absent from his life, Ned is visited by the Chicken of Depression. - Gary Larson

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#422712 - 01/20/13 11:20 AM Re: self-consciousness [Re: traveler]
genedebs Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 11/09/12
Posts: 285
Loc: MO
To Traveler

The truth for me was my mother grew me to be her narcistic supply. (Narcisits need people who work like a mirror and respond so that the mirror reflects what they want to see).

I was very smart, and precosious. I organized youth in 1964 (age 15) to be the primary force in registering 4000 people in Virginia. I recieved my first federal grant in high school mat 16. I always knew I was never good enough. No matter what I did my mother always had improvmvnets I should have performed.

My father rarely punished anybody. But he screamed about 8 to 10 times a week, Punched or hit my mother once a week, and hit one of us children at least once a week. So, physical abuse at least from the age of 4. (And my self perception was enormously distorted). I asked my mother for a good humor bar, she said yeas and asked my father for the 15 cents. My father punched my mother and knocked her off the portch. I felt like I was a greedy child who made my daddy beat up my mommy because I wanted ice cream.

I became intuitive to know how to "read" people AND MANIPULATE THEM TO paticipate in all kinds of efforts.

I could not allow myself to feel my emotions. I would react the way I could make my mother feel better. I could not incorporate my emotions. My father would scream and hit my mother. We would all be crying. My father would walk away. I needed something, so I would hug and comfort my mother. It was the only way I could get her to touch me.

I believe today that I now know what I did and why, after all if I were not more powerful, I would have been dead meat. I could understand my reaction to my mother in the context of rheusus monkies. But not in the context of being comforted so that I could feel safe.

I felt that I was older than forever. I could get no one to understand. I was a social science protege from 15 through 27. But, I never felt that I was good enough. But the truth I now know is I was necessary, but not sufficient.

I was afraid that ifr I showed my love to my children, they would become like narcistic supply for me. I could "behave in the role of" father, husband, etc. But could not allow myself to feel like a father or etc.

I think thiss is similar to your experience. We all have different stories and we all are the same.

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