I stopped caring about what you think

42 days of Teresa – day 5

I grew up in a household where everything was about how it looked.  The house was to be kept in a way that people could arrive at any moment and all would be presentable, because “what would people think?”  Even our play clothes were always in good repair, no stains and otherwise clean, because “what would people think?”  I had to have good grades, smile, behave as expected in school, at church, with family or out in restaurants because, “what would people think?”  It just didn’t matter that my dad was on a drunken tirade the night before, throwing things, beating us or basically bringing his family to tears.  In the morning, we all got dressed and put on our smiles.  People had to think that all was well.

Once I got to high school age, I saw the true purpose of it all.  It was all an illusion and a game of sorts to ensure attention wasn’t drawn to my father and his horrible behaviour.  Maybe he thought he was fooling everyone.  His police record and multiple jail sentences weren’t exactly secret.  His friends were mostly assholes he found in jail.  Who was he kidding?  I spent my whole life worrying about what people would think of me.  I was always insulted, told I wasn’t enough, told that I couldn’t do anything right right from when I was as young as 4 or 5 years old.  I was always worried I’d say the wrong thing, have the wrong posture, have poor grades, not be fast enough, smart enough. I was told not to embarrass my family (my dad really) or else….   I was made fun of for being too skinny, too smart, for having the good grades, for being too slow, for being ugly by my classmates.  My father was right, I wasn’t good enough.  I had learned to hide myself, my voice and who I really was all the while waiting for the validation that I was finally enough.  It never came….at least not from family.

There was a point I realized that I was looking for my validation from the wrong places.  It took so many years of therapy and self help to start finding myself.  I slowly started to find my voice.  It was there all along.  I was able to start speaking with my own voice and learning not to worry if I was saying the right thing.  I could advocate for myself and be proud of my ability to articulate how I was truly feeling.

Strangely, I have been finding myself considering those that would tell me that I am selfish or inconsiderate.  My decisions should be mine but…..what about what others think? Could you do something else, at least when you’re here or there….or at least when I’m around?  Qualified support.  I didn’t realize that I still kept some people in my life that would put me in a place of considering how I made others look.  What would people think of them based on the perception of me?  I can only smile, even as I watch my relationships evolve right before my eyes.

This year is going to be interesting.