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#446365 - 09/03/13 07:21 PM Kicking my own legs out from underneath me?
AndyS87 Offline


Registered: 12/12/08
Posts: 302
Loc: sorry, but I don't say on the ...
Had an interesting chat with my T yesterday. I don't know how true this is for all of you, but I'm curious if anybody else has caught themselves doing this.

So besides CSA, I was real low on the totem pole where I went to school. People were awful to me for a long time, and then just eventually started ignoring me, but in a small town (tiny graduating class where everybody had known each other since Kindergarten or Pre-K) even if you're no longer being harassed, you know where you've been "placed", or at least that's how I felt.

What I hadn't realized was that after I left my home town, went to college, graduated, and did all that good stuff, I was still keeping myself low on the totem pole. In another way of saying it, I was automatically assuming the social role I thought was "expected" of me back when I was growing up.

This is so pervasive in my life that I am now realizing I've engaged in a tremendous amount of self sabotage. In new social settings, I tend to frequently isolate myself or gravitate to other people who seem to be "outcasts" (and shame on me, because that's me passing judgement). I assumed that most normal people didn't want to talk to me or have any interest in hanging out with me. I've never really dated outside of college because I've always assumed if I approached a woman I'd just be bothering them or annoying them. I held off sending out an application to a Grad program I was dying to get into because I wanted to keep earning money (it wasn't great money) at a dead-end job in a really awful company, and for what? Of course if I'm feeling good about myself, there's always the shame left over about the CSA to take me down a few pegs. Sometimes I'll be out and see other dudes out with their friends or girlfriends and go "wow, I must look like a pansy compared to those guys", because not even knowing them, I somehow feel like I'm less masculine or less of a man for some reason, whether it's that I'm single, I'm not sexually promiscuous, I had all these CSA issues, etc. I could go on for pages. It's scary how automatic these reflexes have become in my mind.

Oddly enough though, after realizing this, I just felt like "Well who am I then if I'm not this person who is supposed to be way down on the ladder of society?" It's hard. Today the kids came back to school, and as a teacher I'm sitting there thinking "I wish I had that much bravado and confidence in myself when I was their age", followed by "Well, what's stopping you?". In the end though, I compare myself to other people and just sit there picking out all the flaws I see in myself, and thinking "Why can't you be more like this person/that person?"

I'm 26, but I'm too damned old for this BS.

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#446371 - 09/03/13 08:47 PM Re: Kicking my own legs out from underneath me? [Re: AndyS87]
concerned_husky Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 08/29/12
Posts: 585
Andy,

Your post really struck me because I'm at a point where I'm trying to break free of all that you've described. Breaking out of expectations, low self-esteem and old habits is really tough. Like you, I'm (relatively?) young at 25. Like you, I was at the end of the social ladder back in school. Like you, I sabotaged myself, particularly during and after college. Like you, I had/have a tendency to befriend outcasts (but this I don't find too much trouble with, as I find them more interesting...). Anyway, back to the point - yes, I do catch myself doing this. I find making yourself goals and tasks help raise the bar of expectations you have of yourself. And a LOT of positive self-talk. If you think about it, you're trying to undo decades of negative thought - they won't go away overnight. They need to be constantly addressed and thwarted with boosts within yourself that raise your esteem. Make a list of good traits you have, abilities, capabilities, talents, past achievements, hopes and dreams - and constantly remind yourself of them. It's hard work - but I have faith in it paying off.
_________________________
Husky

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#446377 - 09/03/13 09:45 PM Re: Kicking my own legs out from underneath me? [Re: AndyS87]
Rich1967 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 07/17/13
Posts: 270
Loc: PA
Andy,

I very much relate to everything you said. I spent my entire life like that to varying degrees till just last year. That's why I love hearing from someone your age that sees the cycle and tries to break it. It's not easy, but it can be done. I wish I had seen it earlier on in life, but I'm trying to break it now at age 45. For me I looked at the things that seemed to cause me the most pain and I attacked them head on one painful step at a time. I really embraced "no pain no gain". That pain can sometimes be turned into the most euphoric feelings of success. It can also hurt a hell of a lot, BUT you know what your potential is when you don't even try. There are so many more possibilities when you do try. Can the pain really be as bad as it was when we were being abused? Love yourself and have confidence in yourself to know that you will survive the inevitable set backs.

I didn't do this alone I might add. I spoke with my T every step of the way and I turn to MS for perspective and support all the time. With that help I have made great strides. Enough that I know I will never go back to the way things were before. I still have my ups and downs, but WOW is finally cool to be alive for a change.

Don't forget you are not alone and the people here will love to see you succeed and will gladly help support you along the way.
_________________________
Rich

"Me too" - I don't think I will ever get tired of saying or hearing these two words.

My Story:
http://www.malesurvivor.org/board/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=441625#Post441625

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#446379 - 09/03/13 09:59 PM Re: Kicking my own legs out from underneath me? [Re: AndyS87]
Onesimus75 Offline


Registered: 08/22/13
Posts: 158
Loc: Minnesota
Yeah. I internalized that, too. I still do it too often.
_________________________
We are not defined by our faults, or our wounds, but by the truth within us, which nothing can take away.

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#446397 - 09/04/13 11:49 AM Re: Kicking my own legs out from underneath me? [Re: AndyS87]
Suwanee Offline
Greeter
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 10/30/12
Posts: 706
Loc: Southeast USA
Andy,

When I was a senior in high school a younger kid---a freshman away from home for the first time---asked me how to be "cool." He was dead serious. At first I didn't know what to say since I never considered myself "cool." I was a weird mix of scholar, athlete, and a flannel wearing Grunge hiker/canoeist/outdoorsy kind of person. I didn't think I belonged to any particular group.

My on-the-spot answer was something like:
(1) Stay true to what you consider important.
(2) (In your case) there are many totem poles; positions on them change constantly; don't worry about the daily ups and downs.
(3) You'll never be happy if you try to derive that happiness by comparing yourself to everybody else.
(4)There's nothing wrong with healthy competition, but everybody runs a different race.
(5) Everybody has a public persona; you never know what demons that "winner" deals with in private.
(6) Everything is easier said than done.

As an addendum, I identify with what you said about job vs grad school and approaching women. I made the leap to grad school at 26 and didn't really have a good idea of a life direction until the next year. It wasn't until then that I felt like a "real" adult.
Andy, you are successful, you've already accomplished a lot---now go accomplish more---for yourself first and foremost.

A poem I read a long, long time ago that still resonates:
Richard Corey

Will

_________________________
Cruel Summer
My Journal

-Signs and traces left in stone
Ruins of a past unknown-

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#446490 - 09/05/13 10:46 AM Re: Kicking my own legs out from underneath me? [Re: AndyS87]
AndyS87 Offline


Registered: 12/12/08
Posts: 302
Loc: sorry, but I don't say on the ...
Thanks all! You guys have all been instrumental in every step of this, ever since I started posting here back in 2008 (hard to believe it was that long ago).

I am putting a lot on teaching, which is terrifying for me. It's a difficult thing to get my head around, but at the same time, everyone I've ever talked to in the profession tells me the same thing. It is NEVER supposed to be easy, and I will NEVER figure it out completely, and that's a good thing. It forces you to keep digging to try and discover how to keep growing and getting better.

Much in the same way, this is where I'm at now. EMDR, back when I first did it, lifted a TREMENDOUS weight off my shoulder. It took me three years, but there were a lot of poisonous feelings and memories that I had kept bottled. I've never felt freer then when I left my last session.

My T did tell me back then that this process is like "peeling an onion", and that there are so often many layers. It is apparent now that there are some other things which I just dismissed as small issues, such as how crappy my school life and social skills were, or the verbal/emotional abuse I suffered at home as a teenager, that really have deeply affected me. That was not an easy thing to realize, because I have rationalized those things as something that just IS, versus something I can change. The CSA was a few incidents over the course of a few years that I have very distinctive memories of. All the crap I dealt with in school? That was so constant that I don't have a memory of it, just a ton of blurred together ones.

Life is weird though - elementary school until early high school I was constantly harassed. Typical to the age group, I was often called "faggot", which normally I would've just shrugged off were it not for the CSA and me being convinced that they were right. I reacted negatively (uhm, duh) to the CSA, and was especially worried as a ten year old that it was going to define me and meant that I was "gay" because I had been engaged in sexual acts with another male, so that word really cut me deep.

Now I'm in grad school, and the girls were discussing which of the men in class were the "manliest man". They concluded that I was the most masculine and also the "total package", which was cool, but would have been better if they weren't all married. I personally find the contrast hilarious in comparison to my early life, and especially hilarious considering one other guy in the group is ex-army special forces (but he bakes, which apparently is a disqualifier), another is a competitive power lifter, etc. etc. I'm built like a wet noodle and I know karate. I also have a beard and a fairly deep voice. Not sure what else is there, but I'll take the compliment!

Another girl in our grad class LOVES to tease me in a very mean and sarcastic way, but the difference between now and my past is that NOW I know it's being done in a teasing manner, and also that I turn around and give it right back. Last night she commented that "I'm sorry, I'm so mean to you, but I LOVE that you aren't even phased by it and just give me shit right back".

I dunno. This was so much a right place at the right time thing for me to be where I am in my life right now. I've been incredibly fortunate to find a group of fun, interesting, and like minded people, and I will miss it all terribly when this program ends. On the other hand, it has also made me acutely aware of the fact that I am by no means out of the woods in terms of all these mental health/stability/self esteem issues.

Thank you guys for all the support!

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