one hundred & fifty-nine: affirmation

i loved pocketbrit’s post, even though it made me so sad. i can relate so much to the absolute thirst to hear praise and affirmations but the subsequent inability to absorb them, to hold them, to allow them. the desperate need for the words but the utter lack of experience with what to do with them.

my post is more about the affirmations that you can find slathered all over empty journals, in bookstores on stationary, and all over social media. the ones that often make me roll my eyes and feel slightly homicidal. (i mean seriously, “it is what it is”?! i mean, yeah, it’s true, but then why not say “it isn’t what it isn’t”? or “it can’t be what it can’t be”?! i have enough input in my life from captain obvious…sheesh)

okay, okay, i know i’m being judgy. except, i’m pretty sure you’ll judge me for mine, too, coz they probably don’t speak to anyone else but me. i do have some affirmations i hold tight. like i’ve made it through 100% of my bad days. for me, that is worth celebrating. i’ve had a lot of bad days, especially lately, including ones where i don’t want to be here, where i want it all to end. so that one is a good reminder.

i also seem to revisit shame is just trying to save your life, but we don’t have to listen to him and feelings come and feelings go. i’m fully aware these ones are extra cheesy, and when i’m in the pit, they don’t work, coz nothing does…but  on days when it seems possible to believe something, i do believe those.

Affirmation (159)

People who have grown up in abusive families tend to have missed out on these growing up, I think. Maybe they totally clung to them whenever they received positive affirmations from people, or maybe they dismissed them, refused to let them in, shrugged them off as not truthful, they are only saying that because they don’t really understand, they don’t understand all the reasons you’re actually just terrible. Some people do both; I did. Both clung to any slight positive affirmation thrown my way, and refused to truly let it in. Voices inside my head citing off every single reason that the person was wrong to say what they did, backed up with the data of every single time everybody else said something bad to you, or wasn’t there.

Now, particularly when I’m young, I need (too) many of these from people that I have let in. (Which is not very many people – only pocketcanadian and my therapist). Sometimes my shame surrounding this feels crippling…because to me asking for affirmations – that I’m not alone, that my hurt is justified, that I’m not bad, that I’m loved, or even just that I matter, my hurt matters; all of it feels needy. It feels weak.

In both mine and pc’s circumstances, our parents are acting like nothing is really wrong. It is crazy-making. Like truly *crazy* making. I’m sure there are unfortunately so many out there that know exactly what I mean, and I can’t begin to sufficiently express how insane it makes you feel when your family are carrying on as though everything is just dandy. In my case having no doubt as to the abuse actually having taken place (after all, I didn’t tell them, they merely asked me to confirm it), but nonetheless having a family dinner complete with my abuser, as though we are one happy family. Most of the time I know that they are the crazy ones, but sometimes i start to truly question my sanity…have I lost it? Did I tell them? Am I imagining all of it taking place? Or are they right, is this just not a big deal but I’m making it into one?
This is maybe the most hurtful part of it all.

And so, my point to that last paragraph, was that having somebody by your side, rooting you on, confirming that yes, that really did happen, and yes they really are doing what they’re doing, and no my love, you are not the crazy one, they are the crazy ones, the crazy is theirs, not yours…Having those affirmations, is invaluable, and without it I don’t think I would be here. It feels like when you take the stabilizers off your bike for the first time and you have somebody running alongside you as you cycle…you’re still so scared, still unsure, you still don’t feel totally safe, but you know there’s someone right with you, keeping you going, there ready for when you fall, reassuring you.