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Lotus Jester
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was severely emotionally abused by my mother as a child and as a result never believed in myself, and believe that no one decent could ever really care about or value me.

http://personalitycafe.com/sex-relationships/156425-narcissistic-parent-romantic-relationships.html

As recently as two years ago; I got involved with an abusive narcissist who treated me like crap and of course, I totally bought into his maltreatment of me because I was trained to believe anything horrible about myself.

For many years, I coped with this by keeping other people at arms length and refusing to allow anyone in. Showing my humanness and vulnerability to another living soul was, without question, verboten.

But now I have really caring people in my life who really value and appreciate me; who honestly care what I think and how I feel; so I should be on cloud nine, right?

Well, it's not so easy because my self-esteem has been so extremely damaged in the process that it's very difficult to accept genuine love and caring from others and recently - as a result of my ignorance I hurt someone very badly who cares about me, because well, frankly; I'm not even sure I even have a clue what true caring, friendship or love even is. How could I when I've been trained to be so jaded?

So, I desperately want to know; how do I stop this destructive behaviour and see only the worst in people who clearly have my best interests at heart? How do I stop being so defensive and mistrusting? It rips me apart that I could hurt someone by completely misinterpreting their feelings for me in this way. :crying:

I honestly want to stop causing good people pain and stop projecting my self-esteem issues on to them but I don't know how.

I don't want to go back to being so alone and closed off like I was; it was hell but the thought of hurting such good friends, hurts me more than any psychological pain that's ever been inflicted on me.

Please help, thanks.
 

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@Chesire Tower

You understand well that the goal is to appreciate being yourself. Others might provide love to you, but that's never going to fill you the same way as when it originates from yourself. It takes time to reach a healthy state of self care, take it slow and don't rush things, as long as you are honest to your friends about those trust issues there's nothing to be fearful about, everything will be solved in due time. The major land mine here is to make too much efforts to accommodate those friends and let your relationships become unhealthy for you.
 

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Lotus Jester
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
 
@Chesire Tower

You understand well that the goal is to appreciate being yourself. Others might provide love to you, but that's never going to fill you the same way as when it originates from yourself. It takes time to reach a healthy state of self care, take it slow and don't rush things, as long as you are honest to your friends about those trust issues there's nothing to be fearful about, everything will be solved in due time. The major land mine here is to make too much efforts to accommodate those friends and let your relationships become unhealthy for you.

I do understand that true self-esteem comes from within and that's what I've been doing since very recently - either over accommodating others or withdrawing from them. My fear now is to push the people away who really do care about me because never having had much experience being on the receiving end of caring (well my late father saved me to some extent); I have real trouble recognizing it. I have spent so much of my life trying to become an expert in weeding out toxic people that I now am having trouble with the reverse: being aware when people are treating me right because allowing myself to be so vulnerable and open and not getting punished for it; is entirely new to me - tbh, I'd have a much easier time trying to make sense of calculus. XD
 

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Sounds like this is still fresh, so I'm sorry, truly. You sound confused more than anything else, which is fine because these things are impossible to make sense of even at the best of times and if it only happened recently then even more so. But I think you're going to have to try to make sense of it. Eventually. Things tend not to be so scary when you understand them - meaning both your thoughts and other people's. How you do that is up to you and it really just depends on what works best but there are lots of things to try. Try quiet reflection, writing things down, talking about it with some close to you, seeing a counsellor, reading self-help books, going through some online CBT programs... whatever helps, keep at it. It's really hard though because a lot of these thought patterns have a way of hiding themselves and making it seem like something else is the problem. Like, you might be too scared to love yourself because you think it'll turn you into a narcissist, and instead of seeing that as the problem you might start pushing people away who encourage you to think like that because they're the real problem. Whatever it is won't be as simple as that but as an example... Also, it's best if most other things in your life are going well because sometimes thinking about this stuff is really difficult, emotionally. You'll come to all sorts of weird conclusions about yourself as well as other people, some scary and none necessarily correct.

Here's a website that I really like and a few people have found helpful https://moodgym.anu.edu.au/welcome. It says it's for depression but have a look even if you think that's not you. I actually found the exercises kinda fun (though, I was just looking at it out of curiosity and not because I'm depressed so that probably changes things a little).

Sorry if none of that helps. Wish you the best with it anyway :)
 

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My fear now is to push the people away who really do care about me because never having had much experience being on the receiving end of caring.
You see people caring for you as special and unique, as if it requires particular traits and skills to enjoy your personality. They understand better your qualities than yourself, you need their expression of satisfaction to recognize those same qualities in you. At least that's my limited understanding. You have to trust yourself in two different domains: you have full control over you actions and emotions, you are competent and mature enough to take responsibility for any potential wrong doing and mistakes on your part. Your friends probably already picked up on your trust issues, those things can be felt early on, they accept your flaws. You need to let go, and stop stigmatizing yourself over those trust issues. Considering what you have lived through, you should love yourself even more for who you have become despite those disfavoring odds. Take your time, that's the least you deserve. Be your own best friend, nurture yourself, trust in your capacity to fulfill your own needs. Trust that your unique presence is enough to satisfy your friends.

As I said earlier, take it easy, this ain't a race ! You are free to change at your own pace, you are both the patient, the doctor, and the medication.
 
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