Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do
– Marianne Williamson
An awakening is not only a pleasant experience. It can be brutal at times. I can see things so clearly now and it’s all painfully real. Suddenly I get these realizations – or like a spiritual ‘epiphany’ – and I start to look different to myself. It feels both liberating and scary at the same time – and can be very confusing at times. This week I made a strange realization.
Throughout my whole life, I’ve heard that I’m different, special or an ‘odd bird’ – but I’ve never really defined what that means to me and what consequences those labels have had on me and my life.
I haven’t followed conventions and rules – so I am considered as ‘difficult’. I never understood superficial social interactions – so I was labeled ‘weird’. I have never wanted to belong to any group, any religion, political party or ideology – so I am a ‘misfit’. I have always expressed myself and who I am – so I have been considered to be ‘too much’ – and deserve to be punished. I have my own Universe inside me, I have a vivid imagination and a heightened emotionality – so I’ve been called ‘crazy’ (mostly in a positive sense, whatever that means). I’m overcoming PTSD – so I must be ‘sick’. The right hemisphere of my brain is more dominant than the left therefore I use my imagination, empathy and creativity more than I use logic – so I must be ‘stupid’.
But that’s just it – I am none of those things. I just have a lot of integrity and won’t give up who I am in order to ‘fit the system’. I am not mentally ill because I have PTSD, I am simply fighting the traumas, caused by other people’s madness and manipulation. I am not crazy, just open-minded.
But, what I’ve discovered lately is how much and often I’ve belittled myself in order to make other people feel smarter and less insecure around me. So much so that I forgot about my own intelligence. I acted stupid, felt stupid and then believed in my own lie – I started to believe that I actually was stupid. It might be hard for you to understand why I would do this to myself – but it has an explanation, rooted in the PTSD (in psychology called “regression”). It’s a common survival strategy during a trauma; to endure unbearable long-term situations the victim takes on more childish mannerisms in order to escape the responsibility and emotions of an adult. There is often a bond between the abuser and the victim in which the victim is both terrified of the unreliable nature of the abuser and at the same time is seeking comfort and security in the same person (I call this destructive bond ” the dance of death “, this routine is why people stay in abusive or toxic relationships). To act oblivious, or more ” innocent ” can make the victim feel safer because the abuser (especially in domestic violence) is also the “caregiver” and authority figure as some sort of a parental substitute. It’s a complex phenomenon.
So I felt comforted in the way I acted stupid – and that allowed the abuser to seem smarter and more in control, so I wouldn’t question the situation. Sometimes abuse seem to make more sense than the thought of breaking free and having to deal with the aftermath – that’s what abuse does to your mind. After the trauma, this was just part of my twisted behavior and part of my PTSD. I didn’t even notice how I was belittling myself and acting stupid. It became part of my self image.
At one point I even thought about making a boyfriend my legal guardian. That’s how fucked up this self image was. I thought I was incompetent, talentless, worthless and such a victim of my own bad decisions that I couldn’t be trusted.
I can’t believe how I could ever think like that. It’s shocking. Gross. Bizarre. And embarrassing.
After my last break-up in 2014 I started to change, drastically. I had overcome most of the PTSD symptoms through therapy and nothing made sense anymore – I was finally shedding skin and finding closure in all the destructive behavioral patterns.
Now I am finally able to acknowledge my own intelligence, not only how smart I am but also HOW I am smart – in what way I am smart, what my resources are, my strength and my competencies. Basically it’s all about the qualities that I’ve been bullied for – the qualities that made people say I am difficult, weird, too much, a misfit and crazy. All that is what make me intelligent and amazing. I never want to act stupid again just to make other people feel better about themselves.
I know my intelligence is rare and beautiful – and when I combine it with my creativity and imagination I can be very powerful. I know it can make people uncomfortable but it’s just not my problem.
I’ve only just begun exploring my intelligence and where it can take me. I wish all people could experience this kind of enlightenment – even if it uncovers embarrassing and painful truths about who we have been forced to be while hiding our true selves. We all deserve to shine from within.