Who do you want to be?

I had an email conversation the other day with another survivor and they said something that I’ve seen far too many times, in one shape or other. Namely “I am a creation of what everyone wants me to be”.

Most children in abusive situations become what they need to be in order to avoid the abuse. If they have abusive parents, everything they do, is designed to please the abusive parent, thereby avoiding a beating, hopefully.

Unfortunately, as adults, there’s one very important ability missing, namely the ability to make our own decisions. Once you’ve reached an age where being the pleasing child is not necessary, we don’t know what else to be. So instead of having an abusive parent there to demand a certain behavior, we set-up an internal “parent”, always trying to please them, and live up to a standard that is impossible.

One of the best things I ever learned in therapy was that it was OK to stop living up to that standard. That I can live my life, and be what I want to be, not what others want me to be. I hope you can allow yourself that freedom as well.

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  1. Whilst I came to this conclusion through therapy much more recently, on the other side of the coin, if I didn’t have an internal parent back then, I’d have to ask myself whether I’d be in worse shape if I hadn’t tried to be my own Dad all these years when the real one wasn’t interested. It’s good to be on the road to being my own man at last, certainly. Hopefully it won’t take too long.

  2. Oh no, I don’t mean to say there isn’t a very good reason that self-parenting skill is developed as a child, it certainly does exist to help us be safe and grow into adults. There are many abilities we learn as children that are needed to get through that period of time, that can then be unhealthy when we are out of those situations and aren’t children any more. This is one. Trying to please your parent even when they aren’t around can keep you out of trouble as a child, but as adults, as you said, we have to learn to make our own decisions, and be our own man, so to speak. 🙂

  3. I agree with the comments you made about being what others wanted you to me. My mom made a comment that I grew up as a follower. Now I know why. I even married an abuser, because he said he loved me. I never loved him, I didn’t know what love was. I thought him loving me was enough. Now I am divorced, and have an angry ex-spouse who just wants revenge because divorcing him took his “manhood” away, and I told “secrets” in court, and broke his trust. It was abuse, plain and simple. Where do I go from here? I’m moving to another state. Yet, why do I think of my abusers 90% of my day? I am a survivor, on the outside. Still a victim, in my head.

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