Reply To: Trying the new PSTEC tools
Thanks so much Paul for your reply! After reading both yours and Brian's insightful posts, I think I have an idea of where I need to focus my efforts. Brian really got me thinking about toxic shame and I've been reading further about it and it almost feels like everything is written with me specifically in mind
If I had to break down my issues into simple groups they would be:
1. I must be perfect in everything I do in order to be loved/accepted/wanted. Perfection is the bare minimum, starting point. I can easily trace this to my childhood where anytime I messed up, acted out or otherwise behaved poorly my mom would first berate me with her explosive anger about how badly I screwed up and then when that was over she would withhold all love, attention and communication for some time (i.e. the silent treatment).
2. As a child I was never allowed to get angry or stand up for myself within my family. If I did show any kind of a temper I was immediately overwhelmed by my mom's temper and subsequent silent treatment from point 1. I think this played a large role in my problems with bullies as an adolescent and even in my thinking to this day. My general feeling is that I am completely “at the mercy” of everyone who wants to harass me, say whatever they want to me etc. There's this strong feeling, like a wall, that I cannot “fight back” or stand up for myself and if I did I would be hurt/killed/overpowered etc.
3. My relationships with women have been hit and miss and even though I have made tremendous progress in my adult years, I still feel embarrassed (shameful?) about expressing my sexual desire towards women. Again, I can trace these feelings to childhood. I remember as a small boy saying how I thought certain girls were cute and my entire family teasing and laughing at me followed by whistles, catcalls and “woooh hoos!!” which absolutely humiliated me. I also have an older sister who would routinely shame and ridicule guys who showed any kind of sexual interest in her behind their backs. I would constantly hear “ewwww what a sleazy creep!” anytime a guy talked to her, asked her out etc.
4. I should note too that my dad was very present in my life though he worked a lot and was somewhat quiet and preferred to sit back and let my mom run the daily home life with my sister and I.
Finally, I've been able to have many productive discussions with my mom about the points that I mentioned and to her credit she's apologized and made huge strides in changing her ways. Still, the damage from my early years remains in the form of many limiting beliefs.