This is something we have come to in my therapy sessions. I constantly seek assurance from others, but only in my private life.
If you met me professionally – a senior partner in my business with 25 years of medical experience behind me, you would find me quietly confident, assured, not arrogant but reasoned and balanced in my judgement’s. You would a clarity of decision making, backed up by evidence, that provides a second opinion and support to many of my colleagues, and you would not think that I am a woman who seeks assurance repeatedly in her personal life. I rarely ‘fret’ over the professional decisions I make, some extremely complex with no “right” answers, but I have the confidence and experience to believe in my judgement and capacity to justify the decisions I make.
Contrast that with my personal life. I’m still looking for reassurance that my decision to end my relationship was a reasonable one to make. In my heart – deep inside me I KNOW that a man who literally HATES my eldest child and tries to make him “beg on his knees” for forgiveness; a man who has lived off my earnings for six years with no agreement that I am happy to fund him and no plans to ever refund me, is not a man I should be worried about ‘upsetting’ or ‘being fair to’ But I am worried. I feel that I want EVERYONE to hug me and say , ” Its ok, you are right, its reasonable to be fed up. its reasonable and normal not to want to continue like this’
I am aware that this degree of lack of self confidence is at the extreme end of a spectrum. hat most people sometimes question their decisions, and look for external validation … but I do it to an extreme degree. I NEED it to give me the confidence to stand firm. I’m like an extremely split personality; strong, confident, stable ,a ‘safe pair of hands’ at work; and an insecure, frightened, under confident pushover at home. Who allows herself to be exploited because she does not have the ‘balls’ to stand up for her own beliefs. My discussions in therapy confirm to me that my deepest held instincts are usually ‘correct’ for me, but I am so easily persuaded that I’m wrong…
The first time my ExP and I had an argument ( I don’t remember what it was about) he walked out and ignored me for 3 days. We discussed this in therapy yesterday; the extreme distress, mental agitation that his withdrawal caused me, resulted led me to take a razor blade to my inner arm. That is the first and last time I have ever cut myself, but it gave me a clear understanding of why people in mental turmoil turn to harming themselves physically – the physical pain does distract – at least temporarily – from the appalling mental agitation.
Where am I going with this ? It clearly has to change, at least before I even consider making any other intimate relationships. I think unpacking it – talking about it – in therapy and with people I trust ( Andrew and Kate I’m taking about you x) helps. Angela. (my therapist) also suggested I consider ‘whats the worst thing that could happen’ if I do stand firm by what I believe… I think this will be useful the next time I come up against such a situation.
The loss of ‘shame’ in myself has helped. I no longer feel that I am fundamentally a ‘bad person’ ( which I think I did when I was drinking) Growth of self confidence is a slow and evolving process, and I need to look / think about why I have so little. I’m in my early 50’s and way past ‘blaming’ my parents; but I do think the emotional environment I grew up in has some part to play …
I like the image at the top of this post; I doubt I will ever achieve the level of self assurance – but I’m pretty sure I can do better in the next few years than I have done in the last.