This post is a bit of a hodgepodge and will be in broken into two parts due to length. It has thoughts and introspection on myself, my past experiences, influences, and how I think I have seen the world for many years and that I am trying to change. In some ways this is a very esoteric post and asks more questions than it truly answers about me and what I think. I am not even really sure what I learned about myself through this exercise except a little more self- loathing and a determination to keep trying to affect change in my life because I do want something better and I don't want to hurt as much as I do and I do want to trust and have people in my life. So here are some thoughts... and God help the thinker.!
I have mentioned before that I do not feel like I have had good leadership experiences. This of course leaves a fairly empty field to draw positive experiences from when looking at my past. If I look at the parts of different experiences that I feel good about I find that I have a few more options to look at. If I look at passion, I really like to give of my time and possessions in service to other people. I think that I have a hard time with boundaries so that I sometimes do not know when I should stop giving, how to say no, and to also curb my impulsive nature to just give even when I don’t have it to give. (I think I am in some ways trying to buy the attentions and goodwill and friendship of other people. I am not really sure how successful that has been in my life.) I feel passionate about helping people improve, in trying to understand people and their behavior and motivations and I feel passionate about being successful and helping others find that success too. However, I am not sure I have the skills or understanding to be helpful in many areas and I am not sure that I have had a lot of positive inspiration that has actually caused change in my life. I am not trying to avoid the idea I don’t think. I just have really struggled to find positive change from inspiration from my life in my thoughts and memories and I can’t seem to find any yet. I don’t know if that is my memory, my perspective, or my current trials that tend to block out a lot right now.
When I look at the early patterns of my life story and the people in it, it seems fairly clear that a large part of my childhood was quite negative or my early experiences were such that as time went on, my learned biases and perception of the people and actions around me became negative because my early experiences were. The entire early story that I remember is struggle, fear, the feeling of needs not being met – and I think it is fair to say no self-esteem or confidence in myself. (Certainly over the last year I have come to describe it as self-loathing and failure.) The patterns seem to show a want or a need, a lack of fulfillment for many reasons, frustration and hurt which then manifest as anger and a form of push back whether through action or withdrawal. I have also noticed a strange trust pattern- I will not share with people I do not trust, I trust very easily, if trust is broken the relationship is broken and I walk away from it. That doesn’t make a great deal of sense to me. If I am going to look at people from my early life, I would say that my interactions with my parents were not positive and so they were not positive influences to me and my choices. Ashley Kendrick was my first real friend, and the loss of her due to moving away when I was twelve is a loss that I still feel. She feels like the only positive force in my life in the earlier years. While my siblings helped form memories and action through experience, most of those interactions were negative as well. My mother (whether intentionally or not) would ‘pit’ us against each other and so no positive strong relationship could possibly have been built- at least not by me. I also think that one of the most positive (and negative) things that did happen to me as a child until about the age of fourteen to sixteen was a very strong fantasy life. I think that my creativity and my ‘alter ego’ so to speak helped me to struggle through and sometimes laugh in a life that at sometimes I couldn’t imagine living for or in much longer. In many ways, when I was eighteen I tried to live a life reborn, but found it difficult with the baggage I have carried with me for so many years… and still carry so much of.
I have been dissatisfied with myself in a leadership role in every instance I can think of in my life. Thinking of constructive criticism and experiences with it are nearly impossible for me and I realize that is because all criticism to me is personal. I am not sure there is a way- at least not until recently- to give me criticism in a way that I could truly comprehend it and understand it as a critique on action or thought… and not me as a person. I am not at all convinced that is entirely my fault, but I am unwilling to relinquish responsibility for my biases and prejudices and blame my lack of understanding on anyone else. I also wonder if people were able to feel the anger and hurt underneath and didn’t feel that they had a way to give me constructive feedback. I can remember sometime when I did received feedback (not in a leadership role) and I think that my reaction to it was probably not typical. I remember once getting to go on a church trip without my parents and I was criticized on two things. Once I was told that I should buy as much food with my food card or I would be out by the end of the week. I clearly remember not listening and being a little sad at the end of the week and hungry, but feeling full for a few days and eating what I wanted felt so wonderful that I couldn’t see the criticism as valid… and in some ways I still don’t. That feeling of satisfaction for a few days was truly wonderful and I think of it sometimes when I volunteer at my local food pantry… I wonder if that is one reason I like to volunteer at the local food pantry…? Another time was actually on the same trip (clearly that was a big event in my life! :) and someone whose name is lost to me would correct me every time I ate a bit of food. I guess my teeth would touch my utensil and make a sound. So she would lay her hand on my arm and remind me every time I took a bite of food. My reaction was to not only find no enjoyment in the meal but to stop eating so that I wouldn’t be looked at and I still sometimes attempt to not eat in front of people because I am worried that I don’t look nice while eating and I have poor manners. I think I am still quite a loud eater when I think of it. So I am not sure that if I did get constructive criticism, I would recognize it and be able to recognize what my response to it should be.
I think I have felt that way (the victim) often in my life, but I haven’t called it that or thought of it in that way. I don’t like to feel like a victim; I want to be me and to feel happy and satisfied and successful. I think that sometimes I really don’t understand how not to sometimes. I have been told that I communicate differently than other people and I misunderstand things a lot so I feel very insecure stepping into a strong role. I worry that I will cause difficulty to others or even harm that I didn’t intend to make. I worry that my being me is a problem and maybe it would just be easier to stand back and do what I understand others to tell me to do. That seems so much safer. That way I can get along safely and not be a victim and can find some peace and can give of the talents I think that I have but not hurt other people.
When thinking about whether my earlier experiences constrain or hold me back, the answer is fairly simple. My earlier experiences do constrain me. I may look free and not like I am controlled, but in so many ways I am as confined as someone who has her hands and feet tied and locking in a dark room. If I allow myself to impulsively act, I tend to feel regret or feel that I am told that I am wrong. I do not feel a lot of trust, I am limited by my mind, my allergies and my fear, and so ever circumstance is one that can be used to show me why I am wrong, not a good person, and being part of a team and doing a good job as part of a team is a way to feel successful without a lot of attention on myself. Over the last year I have been trying to understand how to re-frame some of my experiences, but so many of them have so much emotion attached to them and my life feels sort of emotionally unstable right now that I am unsure how to even go about doing that any more.