In an entry I wrote a while back I discussed having feelings of shame and fear that I’ve had for much of my life. I mentioned how I was “programmed” to have those feelings. But, where did that programming come from? There’s definitely been different sources of that programming, but in reality, a lot of it came directly from my parents. And, as I said a few times, this is not a “woe is me” post, this is me understanding things.
It basically goes back to the very beginning. Almost one year to the day after I was born, my parents and I moved to where I live now. And all I ever heard from my mother about where we lived was how much she disliked being here. She never wanted to be here and always talked about how much she wanted to leave. The part about her wanting to leave is actually more complicated than just her dislike of where she lived, but that’s for another time. The point I’m trying to make here is that I never once heard her say anything good about the town or state we lived in. I was programmed to dislike it and that lead to me being ashamed of it.
The upkeep of my house was neglected for years. My mom did various cleaning jobs during the week, but overall maintenance wasn’t done. Walls were dirty, paint is chipped, there’s cracks, not to mention dust and dirt. I kept hearing about how disgusting the house is and nobody should be allowed to be here. The result of that, I didn’t have many guests in my house. I was programmed to not like my house and programmed to be ashamed to have guests.
I know what you’re thinking about that last paragraph. Why didn’t I do more around the house to help keep up appearances? Well, there’s a story for that too. I can clearly remember many times as I child wanting to help with things. Even if it was helping to bring groceries into the house. Often I was told “you can help by getting out of the way” or something like “you can help by leaving.” That did a lot for my esteem. It programmed me to not get involved and to not know how to help, or even really offer any help.
As a child, I developed interests in Professional Wrestling, Star Wars, GI Joe, and a few other things that people start liking at a young age. And many of these interests stayed with me. Occasionally, my parents would take my sister and I to a wrestling event, but like most things my parents did with us,we did them a few times, and then we just didn’t do them again. Of course, I was also told my interest in these things was silly because those things were stupid or childish. Those comments didn’t stop. I was programmed to believe things I liked were not good, therefore I became ashamed of what I liked.
I never knew my parents to get along too well. Seeing them do things together was rare and it actually confused me. Let me make it very clear that them not getting along was mostly them doing all they could to avoid each other while living under the same roof. When they were in the same room, it would usually be an argument, or at least snide remarks back and forth. Holidays were always fun, especially with the two of them having different beliefs. Of course, neither of them practiced any beliefs or anything religious. The only times I ever heard anything religious discussed in the house was when they were arguing about it, mostly how the other one was wrong. What I’ve described in this paragraph programmed various negative traits in me. And believe me, their relationship is something that I could write multiple entries on. I’m sure it will come up again.
My dad does not express emotions. If I went to him with an issue I had with him, I would usually get a blank stare, a response that didn’t really suit the problem, or some of the most shrink worthy avoidance anyone has ever seen. If I went to my mom with an issue I had with her, I would usually be told that I was wrong, or that whatever my issue was simply didn’t matter. If I tell my dad that things he says bother me or offend me somehow, he’ll just keep doing it. I know there’s not a malicious thing there, it’s just that there’s no point to discussing things like that with him, even if the concept is to improve (or at least create) the relationship. If I went to my mom and told her that things she said or did bothered or offended me, she would either tell me I was wrong, or that she’s been holding back her true feelings on it and was “tired of walking on egg shells” around me. So how was I programmed here? I was programmed that it’s probably better to not discuss my feelings because if I do, I’m probably wrong anyway.
My bedroom was my sanctuary, but like it is for many children, it’s also the place you’re sent to when you’re being punished. You know, the old “go to your room” thing. Think of the dichotomy there. My safe place is my punishment place. How did this program me? Did it make me have contradictory feelings about same thing? Or did it just program me to be confused about this as I am as I’m writing it?
I feel that writing all of this is important for me. I’ve often felt that I’m just starting to scratch the surface of what my issues are and where they came from. What’s been said here is me talking about what’s bubbled up a little bit. But here’s the thing about this entry that I believe is the most important part about any of this. For all the people out there that may read this story or something similar from someone else and just brush it off with a “you’re 39 years old, get over it” attitude, let me tell you that I think this IS me getting over it, or at least me getting through it. I don’t know if I’ll ever be “over it.” But, I believe in order to achieve healing, I must first achieve understanding of what caused the issues to begin with. That way I can attempt to figure out how to deal with them in a positive way, especially since I still have to confront many of the causes on a daily basis.
All of these entries are about me getting better, they’re about me healing, and they’re about me moving forward. But, I believe I need to know not just where I’ve been, but I how I got there. Once I figure all of that out, I could be free to change the programming and go someplace better than where I’ve been stuck for so long, and finally be without so much fear and shame.