If there’s one thing I’ve struggled with during therapy all this time, it’s validating my own feelings. I’m used to not being validated. Actually, whenever I’m in therapy and my doctor asks me what I feel about something, I usually begin my sentences with “I know it’s ridiculous, but…”, immediately invalidating myself.
I had a therapy session with the doctor this past week and it was quite cathartic, actually. First thing was when she asked me how I was feeling and I, of course, began with “I know it’s ridiculous, but I’m feeling…”. She cut me short and looked at me, very serious, and said firmly, “It’s not ridiculous, Borderline Med.”
Honestly, I was shocked. Absolutely and positively shocked. No one has ever told me my feelings are not ridiculous, or pathetic, or childish. Since I can remember I’ve always been invalidated. Whatever I felt was always invalidated and refuted, so I stopped talking about myself to my family and everyone around me from an early age. I kept to myself. I put up walls.
Then, those walls got even higher when I started getting bullied early on. I was ridiculed for my looks and personality. Even if the bullying wasn’t physical or extreme, it still hurt a lot. It was persistent all through my school years. So I was invalidated at home and at school. The person I was was an outcast everywhere, and nobody wanted to deal with outcasts.
Now, during the last appointment the doctor asked me why I’m so demanding with myself. I’ve always been this way, striving to be the straight A student, and perfectionist. I didn’t know how to answer her question at the moment, but now I think I do. Being demanding with myself is a means of validation. If I was a straight A student, and perfect in the outside, then I was a person, I was someone, and people validated me. For example, I looked for validation in so many teachers. They were mother figures to me, and being a straight A student, I was always on their good side and validated by them. They listened to me, they treated me like a person.
Being demanding allows me to hide what I believe of myself. I have this deeply ingrained belief that I am worthless, pathetic, and ridiculous. It comes from so many years of invalidation and bullying. By being perfect in the outside, other people have no reason to believe what I think about myself. I fool them. And along with them, I fool myself.
So, when the doctor told me my feelings were not at all ridiculous, it resounded in me. Because I am deeply attached to her and admire her greatly, the fact that she validated me at a moment when I was not being little-miss-perfect and was actually being my honest, vulnerable self, truly shocked me and made me feel like a special person. It meant so much to me.
I don’t think I’ll ever forget that moment.