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This is Who I Am

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Once when I was in therapy I remember telling my therapist that I was like Fred Flintstone. I yelled. I wanted to be right all the time. I wasn’t as good of a friend and a spouse as Barney was. In retrospect, I now realize that the show was about Fred, so people clearly liked him, despite all of his flaws. But at the time, it was a painful realization.

This was a common theme in therapy. How ashamed I felt about being all the things that you weren’t supposed to be. Too loud. Too sensitive. Too controlling. Too needy. Too high maintenance. I couldn’t stand being me. And I couldn’t respect anyone who thought I was great. They clearly must not have very good judgment. So I treated them badly. Which made me feel terrible about myself.

That’s why I treated life like a test. I felt like I was the wrong answer. I had the wrong opinion on everything. I listened to the wrong music. I didn’t have good table manners. Didn’t know anything about current events.

That’s why I got a Ph.D. and got married and tried to have kids. Why I changed my oil every 3,000 miles. Why I force myself to eat vegetables. Which doesn’t have anything to do with being a good person, but somehow all of the big and small rules became equally important to follow.

In all of those years of seeing my therapist, the thing I remember the most was when she said she liked it that I felt things deeply. That I made life more vibrant. This was how she rephrased my shame about being too emotional. I had spent my whole life trying to be less. Until that moment, it never occurred to me that my excesses could be assets.

Yes, feeling things deeply means that sometimes I get depressed. I worry about everything. It’s hard for me to let go of my anger. But being emotional also allows me to be passionate about life, expressive in my writing, and compassionate for other people’s suffering. My excesses enable me to have a blog that helps other people feel less crazy about the things that make them who they are.

And my most recent epiphany is that it doesn’t matter if I can’t think of a way to turn one of my flaws into a strength. Like, I have no idea how counting all the time can be interpreted as something useful. But still. That’s what I do. This is who I am. And I want to accept everything that makes me who I am.

And you know what? It’s pretty liberating. It’s easier to write now, knowing that the only thing that matters is that my posts are a true reflection of how I feel and what I think, regardless of whether or not they’re popular.

Although I still want them to be popular. But that’s OK. Being someone who seeks approval is a part of who I am, too.

About Christy Barongan

I didn't know it at the time, but I wanted to be a psychologist so that I could figure out how to be normal. I think many people come to counseling for the same reason. What I've come to learn is that feeling good about myself is not about trying to be normal. It's about trying to be me. But it's a constant struggle for me, just like it is for everyone else. So I thought I would approach this task with openness and honesty and use myself as an example for how to practice self-acceptance.

17 responses »

  1. disconcerted72

    This hits close to home in so many ways. I’m actually working with a therapist right now to try and figure out how to accept myself just as things are and not worry about the “why” to everything under the sun. And sometimes, it’s okay to not be perfect, from what I hear…

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  2. This post is very interesting and offers me some comfort. I have gradually come to realize that all the difficult parts of my life have given me fodder for my writing. Being emotional allows me to write things I don’t always want to admit.

    Love,
    Janie

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  3. Self-acceptance…I’m not there yet, but I’m most of the way towards embracing myself, which is a far cry from ten years ago. Labels. Societal pressures. Biases. The list of influences goes on and on, but the influence we most need is the inner one.

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    • Maybe it’s one of those thones where few people ever actually get there. Like enlightenment.

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      • Just like that. Personal growth is always a work in progress. Sure, if there’s a lot of growth needed then exponential growth is maybe possible, but that desired line that is perfection is never quite obtainable. As it should be. Perfection, I should think, would be quite boring, though we should try, for not-to-try is stagnation.

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  4. This really hit home to me too. Thanks for your honesty.

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  5. i love the way you always make me feel better about myself xxx

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  6. One beautiful post. I so love this. You have it inside and out. What a wonderful person I have met today.

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  7. Your description of yourself – and your counselor’s response – remind me so much of my surrogate dad. Yes, he had plenty of room for improvement, but he feels things deeply. He empathizes deeply. In my family of origin, there was no depth of feeling, and thus no empathy. That’s why I can love my surrogate dad, even when his emotions get the best of him. I’ve seen the opposite, and it leaves you cold and isolated.

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  8. Your description of yourself – and your counselor’s response – remind me so much of my surrogate dad. Yes, he has plenty of room for improvement, but he feels things deeply. He empathizes deeply. In my family of origin, there was no depth of feeling, and thus no empathy. That’s why I can love my surrogate dad, even when his emotions get the best of him. I’ve seen the opposite, and it leaves you cold and isolated.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

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