As a 10 year old, I remember having a diary where I would write fun things I did with my friends. I also remember writing that I hated myself. As I wrote a list of things that were wrong in my life, I remember feeling so sad and alone but kind of feeling that this was how I was supposed to feel.
The power of showing vulnerability
Growing up, I had a wonderful mum and brother with lots of love but I still had dark thoughts from a young age. I’m still not sure where they came from, but I think that if I had seen others close to me show their vulnerability, maybe a conversation could have been had. This could have enabled me to learn and realise that I didn’t have to think this way and these dark thoughts could have been replaced with loving beliefs towards myself. I never told anyone what was going on in my mind and that sometimes, I felt really alone. I remember people asking me why I wasn’t happy. I could feel them judging me, as from the outside, I looked like I had it all but emotionally I was extremely sad and a little numb too. Hiding real feelings My real dad was from Venezuela (he was based there) and the only relationship I had with him was on the phone. I remember he would call me at all hours of the night giving me empty promises. My stepdad on the other hand, was a very kind man, though an alcoholic and deeply unhappy too. He would joke a lot, but underneath, there was a deep pain and I guess, as a child, I could sense it. My sub-conscious was probably confused, ‘why is everybody laughing and joking on the outside but on the inside so sad?’. Humour was a big value growing up in our family and, despite the sadness, I have always been very grateful for that.
Where does self-hate come from?
I learnt from a young age that to express sad emotions only made bad situations worse. I remember, one day, my mum and dad were arguing about my dad drinking and I just burst into tears. My mum immediately shouted at my dad for upsetting me as their screaming grew louder. At that moment, I decided never to show my sad feelings in front of them again. As a result, I detached myself from those feelings and chose not accept them. After time, I grew to hate them which I guess led me to hate parts of myself. A conversation can change everything As an adult, I realise the effects that this small incident has had on me throughout my life. I have found it really difficult to feel and accept my uncomfortable feelings and even harder to show, share and talk about them. Had I been encouraged to show my vulnerability earlier and that it was okay not to be okay sometimes, I’m sure that things would have turned out differently and I would have been more equipped to deal with the physical and mental sufferings of life.
Awareness is the first step
It’s not a surprise that when I experienced a sudden trauma eight years later, the dark emotions I experienced all at once nearly destroyed me. I had no idea what to do with them and became severely depressed very quickly. The lack of mental health awareness back then did not help either.
The earlier the better
As children, we are creating our beliefs about the world around us and about ourselves. I believe that this is when children need to see others sharing their vulnerability and to be encouraged to talk about their feelings too. Children need to know from a young age that their feelings are valid, whatever they are. As adults, we need to increase our awareness about this, and be able to create a safe place to express our feelings too. Having one person in our lives that we can share our real feelings with can make all the difference. It can give us a sense of belonging, connection and can stop us from feeling alone. I believe that this is the key to self-acceptance and can be life changing for us and in my opinion, can give us the best chance to go on and live a healthy, happy and balanced life as an adult.
Have you told anyone today how you’re really feeling? And how often do you express your true feelings?
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