Being Weird

Feeling like you're Weird


Question:
I always feel so weird - like I'm an outcast everywhere. I don't know why but I've been this way as long as I can remember. I don't really want to feel that way, but I can't help it.


Answer:
For me, weirdness has been a part of my everyday life for as long as I can remember. Sometimes I think it's just part of my personal makeup. Maybe it's genetic, too. Both my parents have a history of mental illness, on my father's side it is extreme. But I think mostly it comes out of early childhood trauma. In those formative years, our parents are supposed to be exemplifying for us how to behave. Until I was 4 1/2, while my mother was with my biological father, I lived in an environment of violence and neglect. Sometimes I think, well things got better after that, why didn't I stop being weird? The effect of living in invalidating environments in our formative years cannot be undermined.

We don't live in a vacuum. Behavior is learned, at least to some degree. As a child, I would sometimes do outrageous things (which are shameful to me now) to get attention, like once I wrapped a towel around my arm and told the teacher it was broken. I was too young to see the difference between a towel and a cast.

Those of us who grew up in dysfunctional families (and there are a lot of them) learn to normalize dysfunctional behavior. As a consequence, I remember my weirdness more by how others reacted to me than by what I did. In 2nd grade, I had a clueless, brutal teacher who hauled me in front of class and then asked the rest of the seated students, "what's wrong with Lisa?"  I was, of course, too consumed with shame to remember the responses. I was so confused because I didn't know what it was about me that was so different.


Weird behavior was ALWAYS something that I didn't plan, but it caught up to me. Now, right after I'm in a social situation, after I leave and reflect,  I'm sometimes filled with regret because I recognize that the way I behaved was weird and I have such a strong desire to fit in seamlessly. The problem is, my life has not been in any way "normal" and so my expectation may be beyond my capability.

Why? What did I do? My BPD tendency  shut me in, telling myself how bad I was until I spiraled into destructive behavior. Since DBT, there is another side of me that interrupts that spiral. It is a voice that tell me to use a distress tolerance skill to hold off the destructive self-examination. DBT provided me with some alternatives to acting out negatively on my feelings. Maybe I will listen to music that is soothing, cuddle up with my pets and go to bed, knowing that tiredness is always bad for negative self-talk.

Today, I look back on it and remember that I did the best I could. I try to focus on thinking about people who like me and love me. When that doesn't work, I go into radical acceptance. I acknowledge that I don't like the situation, but I accept who I am and know that I always do my best and I am not  malicious. When my self-judgement rears its ugly head, I try to acknowledge the thought and then watch it float away. It is in no way helpful to obsess on it. I'll ask for help, love and self-compassion from God/the universal good. Life goes on.


-Lisa

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