Reading a friend’s blog, she wrote something that triggered an emotional response in me.
Several months ago Dr. B and I were talking through the bullying I experienced throughout grade school. It was pretty severe, both emotional and physical, and some teachers were actually part of the problem as well. He asked me what my parents had tried to do about it. I said nothing.
He was surprised. They didn’t talk to the teachers about it? Call the parents of the children who were hurting me? Move me to another school if they had to?
I told him no, and that I’d never really thought about it. My Mom had said that when I lost weight they wouldn’t bother me anymore and put me on a diet. My Dad had said that if I made some friends that it wouldn’t matter as much and started me on a cold calling campaign. Once a month I called one kid from my class and asked them to a movie or something. TORTURE.
He had to think for a little bit before he spoke again. He said, “You are their child. You are theirs and they should love you no matter what. It doesn’t matter if you’re fat or shy or if you dress funny or if you smell bad. That’s okay because that’s you and you are theirs. It was their job to protect you. You shouldn’t have been asked to earn it. They did not do their job.”
That was the first time that I realized that the belief that I was not acceptable the way I was might not be true. I’ve always thought that if I wanted people to like me, I needed to change. The idea that I am okay just the way I am, right now, TODAY – it had never occurred to me.
I’m having a hard time accepting it. One day I will get there.
All of it was familiar of course, but certain words struck a bell … specifically “It was their job to protect you. You shouldn’t have been asked to earn it. They did not do their job.”
Which got me to thinking about my own situation. Of how all the authority figures in my life failed to do their jobs – parents, school teachers, priests and cops – all of them failed me, not just once, but repeatedly. Different times they were, but the scars still formed. I mean, I can blame my parents, but to some degree they were suffering from their own scars and then they were in a new country with acism and the bullying that goes along with that. But that’s just about how I forgive their behaviour.
I’m the same as B in “the belief that I was not acceptable the way I was” and that “if I wanted people to like me, I needed to change.”
I still feel the same way, even though I finished telling B “and you are already most of the way there, because we love you as you are. No changes. None. Because you are an amazing person. Heck, I barely know what you look like and I still want to marry you!” as though I know. Because, heck, let’s be honest … I am not the person to be handing out advice.
So, yeah, self image and acceptance … those old chestnuts are back for me again.