I would like to help you with your question.
I can understand why you want an end to this vicious cycle of self-defeating behavior. What you have presented is rather complex...and I appreciate the detail you have provided.
It seems to me that you have a very good grasp on what occurred to you in your childhood and your acceptance of your brother's poor behavior is admirable. You are right...he was a kid himself and handled himself as best he could given his limited maturity and genuine inability to have known how to "parent" another child. Still...you are sitting with unresolved feelings that feed your insecurity and lead you to mishandle some situations.
You didn't write about your parents...but I imagine that you have also attempted to address your feelings towards them and the feelings of abandonment and insignificance you felt as a result of their parenting choices.
What stands out to me about your childhood and the behaviors you described (passive aggressive reaction, etc), is that any hint that you are not being "seen" by others takes you swiftly down the path of being indignant. That is, saying to yourself..."how dare they.....(fill in the blank with: take advantage of me, not see I am already pre-occupied, not see that I have needs, etc. etc.).
This indignant state comes from those years of abuse you suffered at the hands of your brother and parents (likely from your wife as well) and their failure to have seen you as a unique and wonderful person in the world. You have compensated for this in many, many ways...academically, athletically, and so forth. But yet that little boy part of you longs to be recognized, coddled and nurtured.
Of your marriage you write: I felt "unloved and that my needs were not seen as important"...this is likely the same experience as brother and parents...and it has continued to replay itself in your current work relationships and friendships.
I would say you are right on the money. And you have an accurate estimation of my wife and marriage. I want to stress that see was and is a lovely person. I wouldn't have married her otherwise. I don't regret the marriage. I also don't regret the divorce. I do regret hurting people.
Hello. I was just working-out (no surprise). I'm ready to chat if you are.
Hurting people is sometimes an unavoidable consequence of life...we might say the same thing about your brother...he likely did not mean to hurt you...but he did.
Yes...I'm here and can chat.
I don't like hurting people. Partly because I know how it feels to be hurt. More so that I don't like the idea that they are disappointed in me.
Think about this for a minute:
we give away what we want most...
Does that ring a bell with what occurred with your brother...and your parents...
It rings a bell loudly... but not with my brother or parents. I'd have to think about that connection.
Okay...so tell me more about how that statement connected to you...
People tend to be attracted to me because I am always pointing out the bright side, encouraging them to reach or try something new, offering genuine compliments and answering with objective critique if I am asked for it. People see me as a positive influence. In other words, I give out all the things I desperately want. That's how is was in my marriage.
It's interesting that we are all looking for different things. So what we are giving out might not necessarily be what the other person needs.
I know my wife was giving, for example.
But not in what I needed.
Oh, and I tend to be pretty good at figuring out what it is that people need.
I'm just not good at voicing what I want.
So should I be chasing these needs all my life? Is it possible or even necessary to out-grow them?
Or do I accept them and learn to communicate it better?
I really don't know.
And when you think about this...how encouraging you are to others...how attentive you are to other people's needs...what a positive influence you are...your goal to help other people and give to society...do you see the deficit that you have operated under all these years?
But...then...we have to ask...if you had not experienced that abuse..that abandonment...would you be the person you are today? I'm not saying to be grateful for how you were treated...but to see your own power and courage to overcome a terrible start.
Oh I do see it. But still feel I that I am somehow covering up my selfishness or laziness. It makes no sense. I feel inadequate but I can find no evidence to support it. And I'm very quick to assume that other people see me as inadequate.
You have childhood wounds...no doubt about it. From where you are standing today...those wounds are still significant. In my viewpoint...it would be beneficial to heal those wounds so that you are free of your past.
I work hard. I'm very sincere. I'm fun to be with. Why is that not enough for me?
Hmmm to your posting about selfishness or laziness....
Yes, those are the words I attack myself with.
Your musings about inadequate are a voice from the past....
You attack yourself because that's how your brother, parents, teachers, and others attacked you! Because of what you heard from them you built this view of yourself...and you've stuck with that view.
Think about this....
Yes. Those are the words from childhood. It so amusing to me how I will bring them out every time when in fact, no one has accused me of those things in 25 years.
You were a little kid when your brother attacked you and spoke ill to you. Correct?
As that little kid you did not fully understand why he was saying and doing those things.
the worst was around 8 years old for me.
I did not.
All you knew was that he was big...big person, big voice, big everything.
You also knew that your parents put him in charge of you.
And I knew he could TEACH me things. He showed me how to develop my talents.
You understood this as: mom and dad have no problem with how he is hurting me...they let him be in charge.
So I really looked up to him.
Yes (about my parents)
Yes...he was larger than life itself!
He taught me everything I expected from my dad.
So...let's review...you are a little kid. Your BIG brother is BIG, STRONG, TOUGH, MEAN. He hurts you. Your parents endorse this because they put him in charge and leave him in charge. Therefore, mom and dad think I should be treated badly.
Brother is pseudo-father....
In your immature mind you come to believe that you DESERVE to be treated the way your brother/parents treat you.
You come to expect to be treated like this.
My brother taught me to ride a bike, throw a ball, swim in deep water, create art, build things, drive a car, ski, get a job....
Your translation: my role in life is to be beat and mistreated by my all powerful, big brother who is pseudo-father to me.
I did believe that. Still do (kind of)
you are correct
I still believe it
I even invent reasons to believe it.
Now...today you can - with your mature mind and life experience - look back on that childhood and put logic, compassion, and understanding on that picture. You can see that your brother - left to his own devices - mistreated you not because you deserved it but because he was a kid himself. You can see your parents as having made a regretable mistake in putting your brother in charge of you when they shouldn't have. None of this was about anybody wanting to hurt you purposefully...rather it was an unfortunate parenting choice.
So...if you can see this clearly now as an adult and realize that the impressions you formed as a child...impressions that became "the truth" in your child state - were the thoughts of a young child who had no ability to understand what was going on...you can let go of that past and change your interpretation of that past.
Is this making sense?
What you today as an adult can do is to say:
Wow. What I saw, heard, experienced, believed as a child looks different as an adult. As an adult I see that I believed something that was not true. I did not deserve to be treated like that. I am significant. I am lovable. I matter. People do not see you as selfish, lazy, insignificant...YOU SEE YOU that way. Others don't. And why you see yourself in that way...why you have those voices in your head...is because you have not made the shift from 8 year old to adult.
This is very clear
I do see it. There is still a long habit to break of repeating these thoughts. But I feel that it's very helpful that you pointed out the FALSE belief. I'm not going to believe something I KNOW is false.
So that has to be my answer to those voices.
Exactly...stick with the truth...dump the falsehoods.
It is unfortunate that your brother was left to parent you at a time in his life when that was truly not possible. And it's unfortunate that the result of his inadequacy was that you began to see yourself in such a negative light. Your chasing after his approval and wanting to "beat" him in life put you on a difficult path. We would all hope to be raised in families where love was unconditional and no one had to fight to be well treated..and where unconditional love flowed uninhibited. But that's not what most of us experience.
I'm glad that your brother did teach you so many wonderful things...that helps...but it didn't overshadow the terrible messages you internalized and that threatened your self-worth.
Those terrible messages need to be extinguished once and for all. You need to look at your childhood with mature eyes and to create new messages about those years.
Yes! That's what I'm looking for. I do see the facts as you've illuminated them But I was still searching for what to DO with them. I want to create new messages.
I encourage you to get out a notebook and make a list of the negative messages you have running around in your head...then next to each message re-write it using positive words. Then post the sheet of paper somewhere you look often - fridge, mirror - and read over the list routinely, letting it sink in deep...
Revise the list if you need to...
I like that!
I've never done that before. I use visualization a lot. I post notes and drawing up of what I want to create. But I've never done the list as you've suggested. I've never applied this to my self-worth.
This is not something that is going to happen over night...but by writing it down..you get it out of your head and out into the world. This is turning something abstract (your thoughts) into something concrete (the piece of paper).
Think of this as another drawing...you want to create new messages...
How you will do that is by drawing a new map...
That old map you had - the one that you formed as a kid - was a kid's rudimentary drawing...now you are capable of a sophisticated, grown-up map...
Oh I am really looking forward to this
I'm going to right to work on it.
I will revisit and rewrite
Thank you for the clear homework
Yes...you need some time to think this through and get on paper all the details of that kid map...
The facts, as powerful as they are, still needed some kind of direction for me
LOL to the homework
I know it's not going to change the world for me tonight
But I don't rule that out
the point is that this is a very good tool for me
because these voices have been so muddled and murky
I couldn't keep track of them
writing it down doesn't let them escape
and I can point to them - identify them as false.
and REWRITE them
Yes...now you are on the road to healing...rather than being stuck with an old, inadequate map that just kept the tires spinning.
Take a deep breath...
You have done a tremendous amount of work in this chat...
I agree that the homework won't instantaneously clean up your negative voices ... but it will give you a darn good start on seeing yourself differently and being able to formulate a new map...one that is healthier, more functional, and REAL.
Take a deep breath..
You have done a tremendous amount of work in this chat..
Is there any last thing I can do for you this evening?
No. I think you've given me quite a bit. Thank you!
You are very welcome.
It was my privilege to work with you tonight.
If you should ever want to chat again...just ask for me by name.
I very much appreciate your time and your insight
and especially your clear instuctions
You have a good night as well
I will remember you name
If you should want to print a copy of our chat...you can do that.Otherwise, it is stored with your account.
Oh thank you for telling me
Many thanks for your willingness to be open to my help.