30 DAYS OF FEELING – DAY 16
My psychologist gave me and assignment before I got out of his green chair last week. “Think about a strength that can protect your child-self in the memories you have of her.” He meant some good quality I have today that I can give her her, helping her to speak up or providing her the safety and validation she always needed. Basically something in my character that helps me to get through difficult things today, able to help the girl I used to be in the same way.
Having a personality disorder and having to name one of my own strengths are two things that don’t really match well. I have always had trouble describing myself as an adult. Whenever I try, I get lost between what I have become and what I used to be, I get confused and feel like I am nothing because of the huge contradiction in my image of me.
It is like I’m made up of antonyms. I used to be positive but now I’m closer to negative, I used to be sensitive but now I’m numb, I used to be introvert but now I’m extrovert, or at least pretend to be. There is such a big difference between how I was born and how I behave today that I doubt every single thing I say about myself, what is real and what is not? I don’t know anymore.
I guess the answer is that I am both, at least for now. I was something but life changed me, and even though I feel as if what I am doesn’t truly suit me, it is what I have become and until I change myself again, I must be who I am, because I do know that I am no longer who I used to be, otherwise I wouldn’t have been writing this today.
So let’s assume that what I am today is true, let’s assume there is no point in arguing or doubting about the validity of the person I have become, then, what am I? I have always been so confused about this question that I never really gave it much thought, avoiding it even, I don’t even know what character traits there are to describe a person, to describe myself…
I decided to make things a but more easy for myself by letting psychology, with the help of the internet, point me towards the direction in which my character traits are to be found. I filled in a personality test without allowing myself any time to doubt about present and future me, and for the first time I saw a description that actually made me feel like it is a explanation of myself.
Reading about the personality I apparently have, made me emotional. Why didn’t I do a test like this before? Why did I keep doubting and avoiding, thinking there was something wrong with me while this simple test is able to tell me something about myself without any confusion? I mean, I truly recognize myself in all strengths and weaknesses, the whole description just seems to fit me, without raising any doubt about the future or the past, almost like if who I was and who I am finally merge together into one person.
I feel like for the first time I am able to see myself as a whole. I have always been creative and clever, I have always been sensitive to criticism and avoiding the ordinary, and I guess I have always known this as well. I just choose to doubt about the things I wasn’t so sure about, almost like I was sabotaging my sense of self with doubt.
I might not know everything and I might now always behave as one person in everything I do. I might react different in different situations and amongst different people but there are also things that are just always me, things that always have been me but I failed to see till now. I am not as complicated as I expected myself to be by focussing on the things that are difficult and uncertain to me.
According to my test result, I am someone who needs a meaning for everything as well as for myself. I am someone who tends to struggle with questioning myself who I really am and who I’m supposed to be. I don’t settle for the easy stuff but want to figure out the complicated parts of myself and although I believe this ability does make me the interesting and complicated creature I am, I guess I also have to learn to accept the easy things sometimes. I don’t always have to over complicate everything for myself.
With this knowledge I guess I can turn one of my antonyms into a strength able to help both now-me as well as my child-self. Something actually both versions of me contain but express in a such different way that I usually have a lot of doubt about this thing being a part of me. But it is, I have always had the ability to never give up.
I recognize this endurance of me in my child self mostly in my positivity. I kept trying to make the best of every situation, I didn’t give in to pain or sorrow, but instead always kept looking for a way to turn every misfortune into an opportunity. I always saw the good side of things and although I am definitely not as positive today as I was back then, my endurance remained. I guess I never gave up on myself, I put all my energy, and even more than that, into my work, pleasing my family and creating my ideal body. I continued fighting for my goals even when I’m too tire of too sad to do so. I can set everything aside for something I truly want and even though this led to my breakdown, I still consider it as one of my strengths, especially if I can find a way to balance the use of it.
Endurance, doorzettingsvermogen in Dutch, the ability to fight for what I believe is important, long after other people would have already given up. A strength that has made me truly strong all my life. I guess that if I would have been able use my endurance as I do today as a child, against my parents, I would have won, I would have been myself today. So hopefully using it now will do the same.