Being OK with myself

I grew up with a mother who, well at least to some degree, resembles narcissist. She is demanding, critical and unpredictable. It took me years to realize how afraid I was most of my childhood. I was afraid of criticism, I was afraid of her putdowns and shaming. During our fights she would continue putting me down until I begged her to stop (she usually did not).

Before I started my therapy if I said my self-esteem was low, that would be an understatment. I was so ashamed of myself that I was sure that who ever will find out my true nature will be instantly repulsed. So I created a mask- I presented myself as high-achiever who had it all together (even though on the inside, nothing really was together). Even though I have spent four years in therapy, some of these judgmental comments were still in my head. I had created a critical voice that kept comparing my achievements with everybody else and telling me that I was a failure.

Self-development has been my constant companion. Even though on some level I was aware that it was both a symptom and solution to my problems, never did I realize it quite as acutely as during my last therapy session. Suddenly, in my memories I was again this little child who was constantly worried about my mothers reaction. Will she start screaming when she comes home? Have I anticipated her wishes correctly? Maybe I have done something wrong?

All my little decisions needed to be checked with my mother who then either approved or disapproved (usually the latter). I was mortified by the possibility of having done anything wrong. Needless to say that decisions scared the hell out of me. So did perceived failures. There is a lot of literature on low self-esteem and depression, but at least in my experience not so much about its connection to anxiety. In my case, my anxiety has been greatly related to my fear of disappointing my mother, being punished again for not being perfect.

For the first time I am starting to feel some inner calm. Starting to realize that only I decide if I have failed, noone else. The standards that I have failed to meet are foremost instituted by me as well. I am liking where things are going and if I continue to work with the issue, I will be able to feel much better than I have felt most of my life.

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