There is this scene in the movie “A League of Their Own” that at many times I feel I can relate to. I’m transcribing it from memory so it may not be 100% accurate.
Kit: Have you heard how Mom and Dad introduce us to people?…This is our daughter Dottie. (Said with reverence) This is our other daughter…Dottie’s sister. (Said dismissively)
While this wasn’t directly done to me, because my sister was always into things, into performing, I felt this way at times. Once my sister entered high school (she was two years behind me) it wasn’t long before teachers and peers started referring to me by way of my sister.
I am learning, as Kit did in the movie (or at least it was implied), to be my own person. Or as my therapist referred to it yesterday, “see with my own glasses.” I have, in moving away, begun to establish myself as a separate person. What I am working on now is trying not to reference my likes, my preferences, my personality traits, according to what my family thinks I should like, I should do, what I should do better, what is and isn’t good enough. I am working on overcoming my fear of liking what I like and being who I am. (P.S. Mom if you are reading this, this is not about blame. It is about how I feel. So don’t get all hissy with me. See: I bet you think this post is about you)
A very difficult part of this is allowing myself to be truly seen. You think it would be easier to do this with a therapist you like and trust, but it is not. For me it is so damned difficult. I want and need the emotional release that comes with being deeply emotionally vulnerable with another person (read bawling my eyes out and still being emotionally “held”…therapists and students of psychology will know what I am talking about…and maybe parenting experts too.). Part of my difficulty in being emotionally expressive with anyone, let alone my therapist, is a terror of being “seen.” When
you are I am emotionally vulnerable I feel as if all of my “walls” that I have put so much effort in maintaining will come down and that is partly where my terror comes from I think. The fundamental feeling of being wrong (bad, flawed, etc.) that I have held onto for so long is so painful and isolating and it feeds into my fear of being “seen.” “I can’t let myself cry here because what will she think of me? Don’t let go here! Don’t lean on her.” It is difficult to explain because it is not totally a conscious thing either. Part of it is, part of it totally is, but I can’t entirely account for the mental and physical contortions I put myself through to prevent myself from breaking down.
This is also why I have difficultly making and relying on friends more than just surface “acquaintance” type relationships. But that is a whole other post…