If you've followed this blog you'll see that since discovering I had a false self I've been diligently searching for the cause, the Great Question of "Why I am as I am?" During that search I healed enough to get married to a fantastic lady, picked up a bunch of great kids, and slowly discover myself. But lingering was the feeling I wasn't whole, wasn't enjoying life as I should. I still feel broken.
As I look at my past, found no big-T-Traumas, and still felt broken.
I found my core beliefs, and still felt broken.
I identified my secret attachments, and still feel broken.
I integrated the 5-year-old child-self I suppressed when I was a kid, the thing that resulted in my false self, and still feel broken.
I started therapy, did some EMDR to sort through the small-t-traumas, and still feel broken.
I found I was always highly sensitive, but still feel broken.
How am I still broken? I ran across a list in a book, Running on Empty, by Jonice Webb, with what is the most accurate list of what is wrong with me I've ever seen:
- Feelings of emptiness
- Counter-dependence (where my lack of trust in others makes me want to appear completely independent, needing no emotional care)
- Unrealistic self-appraisal
- No compassion for self, plenty for others
- Guilt and shame; What's wrong with me?
- Self-directed anger, Self-blame
- The fatal flaw ("If people know me, they can't like me.")
- Difficulty nurturing self and others
- Poor self-discipline
- Alexithymia: poor awareness and understanding of emotions
It is very strange to see yourself completely defined in a list, but that's what this list is: a summary of who I was, and in many ways still am.
The cause: Childhood Emotional Neglect. This doesn't mean I was abused or anything like it. It just means that when those moments came where I needed emotional guidance, it wasn't there. I was always looking for an event which caused my false self. Turn out it was probably a long series of things that could have happened, but didn't. And being highly sensitive, I probably needed a lot more emotional understanding than my siblings. Maybe they got enough. I didn't. For me as a kid, emotions were sufficiently confusing, and without help to understand them, I did the best thing I could: I suppressed them. I suppressed emotions so well that I suppressed my true self in the process. Because unmet needs gave me emotions I didn't know how to handle, I suppressed the needs, too. I forgot that there was ever a part of me that had needs. I developed complete counter-dependence, not needing anyone to help me, and trusting no one to do so. Complete independence.
But vastly empty inside. That was the cost. Living without emotion isn't living, and that's how I knew I was broken. And all the problems listed above showed up.
I don't know where this will go. I hope it leads to healing.