Thursday, 14 April 2011

Not Good Enough

Poster Campaign for Domestic Abuse Awareness- Scotland

Last night I didn't sleep. I have no explanation why I didn't; at three am I took two sleeping pills, at four am I got up for the third time and fetched a large glass of sherry and a packet of sickly sweet hazelnut cream biscuits upstairs, then sat on the edge of my bed and alternately took a drink of sherry, ate a biscuit, took another drink, and another biscuit, and on and on,  until the drink was finished and the packet of biscuits half empty and I felt sick and sickened at the same time. I had already read a soporific self-help text, checked my emails - at three in the morning, for heaven's sake - and scratched the itchy insect bites on my legs. Nothing helped.

I've had a very good week, loaded up on sunshine, saw lots of friendly faces and nourished my soul. I had also had some fantastic comments on several recent posts which did my delicate and slightly bruised ego a lot of good, convincing me that I should continue blogging. I even had emails from people I didn't  know existed, who neither follow nor comment, but still felt called upon to tell me how much they enjoyed reading my blog.

Yesterday afternoon, walking past her house with Benno,  I met a neighbour  pruning some dead growth in her front garden. She and her husband read blogs all the time as part of their professional duties, I think. The couple read my blog and have always been very complimentary about it; I can trust them not to gossip about it in Valley's End, and I don't feel obliged to change my veiled comments on village life for their sake.

I stopped to chat, and Sally once again praised my blog, she smiled sweetly and sincerely and mentioned several entries and what she thought of them. You'd think I would be pleased.  Unfortunately, I feel inclined to trust her judgment and that is where the problem comes in.

You see, she couldn't be right, and neither could the other people who have said that they enjoy my blog; in fact, nobody who has a good word to say about anything I do can possibly be right. They simply don't know what they are talking about.

This is where it gets hard, very hard indeed, to continue writing this.  I am convinced, and always have been, because I was told by people who knew about these things, that I was Never Good Enough. Nothing I did deserved appreciation and certainly never praise. There was always somebody who would have done so much better than me, who wouldn't have been the same kind of fool, the same imbecile, incompetent, ridiculous child, who was not only a complete idiot but also disobedient, ungrateful and disloyal. That person was my still-born sister, a fantasy being.

So, you see, this is where logic comes into it: if I accept the compliments some people misguidedly insist on paying my efforts, in blogland and elsewhere, if I accept that these compliments are sincere, then it follows that much of what I was told as a child, much of what I have come to believe, my core belief, in other words, is wrong. Lauren (my counsellor) and I go over this ground time and time again. It's a circular argument.

If I am Good Enough, then 'They', whom I owe obedience, gratitude and loyalty, were wrong. I would have to accept that, knowingly or unknowingly, 'They' were acting abusively, that I was psychologically abused. If I were to accept that 'They' got it wrong, it would automatically prove 'Them' right, that I am indeed disobedient, ungrateful and disloyal. Q.E.D.

Which means that I punish myself by sitting on the edge of my bed at four am, eating a packet of biscuits, which is bad for me, and gives me no pleasure at all.

The wheel goes on turning.

P.S.  Don't take too much notice of this, I am sure I shall feel better tomorrow, after a good night's sleep.


  1. I appreciate your honest words here. Family relationships are some of the hardest there are, so much damage can be done knowingly or unknowingly over the years. I grew up with being told not to waste paper - I took it to mean that my drawings and/or words were worthless. Teachers told me not to work on group projects, to leave it to others who were better/neater/smarter/...
    I have very little confidence and my delicate ego is easily damaged.
    Your writings on your blog are fantastic, if only I had one once of your talent.
    Accept that the adults in our childhood lives can and did make mistakes, as I said, either knowingly or unknowingly, and in accepting this accept also that you are a very gifted worthy person.

  2. I think "growing up" often comes after 40 for most people. It is when we start to realize that we can't please everyone, our parents and family might be wrong about some things, and we start to learn to accept ourselves as we are. The most important thing is to feel good about our own choices. Learning to accept that others see beautiful things in us and by us is difficult (I suffer from this as well:) I didn't have much confidence as a child. I hope I have instilled in my children an equal amount of confidence AND compassion.

  3. Effective, rambling-toned piece. Solid work.

  4. This is my second time here in Friko's World. I wondered if I could be so bold as to make a comment. Then I read the above that I should say whatever I want to say. So...

    It does not need to be a circular argument. The people that were in your life were horrible people. Mean and unloving. Granted, I can speak from experience. My father used to hang me over the ferry and bridges because it gave him some sort of sick pleasure. What an awful thing to do to a child! Now that I am grown I see a broken man. He was wrong. That is an absolute truth.

    However, I am in no way disobedient, ungrateful and disloyal for saying so am I?

    We have to go with truths. They are absolute. Either you are saying every child that was abused is disobedient, ungrateful and disloyal if he/she stands up and says, "that was wrong!"

    Am I disloyal? Am I Ungrateful? Am I disloyal?

    Are you? No. Absolute truth.

  5. I know that feeling, and the self-medication, well.
    The only way I know to deal with it is to accept that I myself am flawed and have unintentionally hurt people.
    And so, maybe other people are also flawed, and have made mistakes.
    And maybe it's all in the past and over with.

    It doesn't feel like it those nights at 3am, though, does it?

  6. Was it only a week or 2 ago that I didn't even know you existed, Friko? I came here to see what opinionated dog had visited me, and instead found an articulate, funny, ascerbic and keen observer of places, plants, people, and it seems, herself.

    I'm no psychologist, but your sleepless night strikes a chord in me. Here's my 2 cents worth.

    Who you are today (see 1st part of my comment) is the result of the experiences and people who have so far been in your life. They may have been harsh or careless in their care of you, but it seems they didn't do such a bad job. As far as
    I know, you're not uncaring or cruel which are much worse things for a human to be than useless.

    I have to stop here because Georgia has decided to go to sleep on my lap which makes typing quite difficult, (not to mention her snoring is disturbing my ability to be coherent) but maybe just one more thought from this opinionated dog...

    Usefulness, like self-esteem, are highly over-rated Things To Have.

  7. "You're useless" is what is called an introject - something you took in from someone else. It is not yours. It is not you. It never was. The people who said it believed the same thing - could not tolerate it and so projected it on to you. It is not the truth. It never was. It just seems you become vulnerable to old, screechy music in your head when you are sleep-deprived.

    Eject the introject - and don't believe anything you think when you are sleep deprived!

    Frankly, my dear ... I find you quite lovable.

  8. It's now how I know you, Friko, but it's part of who you are. We're all so fractured and mended, backwards when we should be forwards, anxious when we could be confident and generally feeling less-than when we are often better-than. I think it's part of the human condition - or rather, the woman condition. I wish you peace of mind and a good sleep.

  9. well 'they' can bite are just fine friko...smiles.

  10. it's a shame what people do to children because the parents feel powerless. when I was first married I went to lunch with my new father-in-law who told me to my face that his son, my husband, had never done a single thing in his life to make him (the father) proud. this same man credited only me later in life for the success we both worked hard for. finally, he disowned him and by association me and his grandkids. what drives parents to punish children like that?

    you are more than good enough, you know.

  11. Yes, no question this is an endless loop from which it's tough to escape--and, certainly, taking the route of half a packet of hazelnut creme biscuits is a desperate measure! If I may say so, to heck with anyone who might have made you feel this way. I can only say how glad I am to have discovered Friko's World.

  12. Friko,
    You are very brave to speak about your childhood hurts in a public forum but very generous as well since it has allowed others to express some of their stories. I know the deep sadness of the mid-night hauntings as well ---I get up and onto the computer or read.Thanks for sharing and promoting awareness.

  13. Yikes! It must be hard to have been treated like that as a child. You reminded me of soomething I heard long ago by Woody Allen, that he wouldn't want to join a club that would have HIM in it. Somehow the circular logic of last night couldn't escape you, so you wrote it down. I hope you're feeling somewhat better now, or will after a good night's sleep. Here's hoping...

  14. Friko, I'm sorry for the things you were told. People sometimes don't understand the damage they do, don't even know when they do it, but the damage is done, nonetheless. My words, our words, here on the blog will not change that, but please know that there are many who recognize something very different in you. Even from afar, across great amounts of water and land, and despite the fact that I've never seen your face in person, I know.

    Have peace.

  15. Friko, I have the same exact problem. Our psychological formation takes place up until the age of seven, and then we're pretty much "set." That was the time to get the compliments and establish a basis of self-esteem. Unfortunately, my mother lavished praise on my sister and criticized me constantly. I do know that feeling of not being good enough.
    I think I speak for many others, Friko: you are admired--for being indomitable, creative, responsive to others, unafraid to be yourself. Plus you run a home and estate and manage to occupy yourself in interesting ways. That takes will and intelligence, curiosity and empathy. I ALWAYS enjoy visiting your blog: it's so honest as well as entertaining. I put on an eye mask and ear plugs just before I go to sleep. LOVE

  16. BTW, my word verification on that was "unsatedl." Drop off the "l" and it says much, doesn't it?

  17. Friko, then there is me. I had parents who loved me, disciplined with love, and made me always feel cherished. And yet . . . I felt not good enough, that I never measured up, and on and on. But that foundation they laid, of love and faith, eventually paid off. It has taken awhile and I still sometimes fall back into that old mental broken record. How harder it must be for you to accept on faith and on the record of your own adult behavior the truth of your own value. It sounds, however, like you are well on your way in that difficult but life-affirming journey! Your courage is showing!

  18. aber, aber, aber! Weisst Du, Friko, wenn Du etwas postest und Du fühlst Dich gut damit (das ist doch dann, wenn man eine echte Idee hat und konzentriert und intensiv daran schreibt), dann ist es auch gut! Und wenn Du denkst, es ist etwas langweilig oder vielleicht nicht so interessant und die Leute loben trotzdem Dein Blog(und nehmen wir nur mal an, sie würden ein Post vielleicht nicht so gut finden, wie ein anderes), dann heisst das doch einfach nur, dass sie Dich unwahrscheinlich schätzen und Dich weiterhin unterstützen oder glaubst Du wirklich, man hat die Energie, regelmässig zu kommentieren, wenn das Blog nicht gut ist??!!!! Aber wirklich, also :-)! Es geht doch gar nicht darum, besser oder der Beste zu sein, und was heisst das schon! Es geht doch nur darum, mit sich selbst im Reinen zu sein und im innerlichen Gleichgewicht seinen Weg zu gehen. Und dies strahlt, an Dir selbst und es strahlt Dein Umfeld an. Wenn Deine Nachbarn es wert finden, über Dein Blog zu diskutieren, dann schätzen und lieben sie Dich offensichtlich - und was gibt es Schöneres?!

    Ein Lächeln für Dich - und man soll nie alleine trinken, hat einmal ein ganz besonderer und mir lieber Mensch gesagt...!


  19. I so totally understand this. My therapist and I went rounds with a similar story last year. Not quite the same, but with a similar effect on me...and my therapist deemed my parents "emotionally abusive."

    I refuse to believe that. Parenting is a learning experience, and we do the best we can with what we have. We, as parents, often make mistakes, but we, as children learn from those mistakes and if we're wise, we will not repeat those mistakes.

    Did my parents' remarks and actions hurt me? Yes. Did they have an impact on my future? Yes. But did they make me a more empathetic person? Did they let me see behind a person's appearance and look into his soul to see the beauty there? Yes.

    Darlin', you've got to pull yourself up out of that hole and realize that those who molded you were no doubt grief stricken, and grief affects people in different ways...and not always rationally.

    I don't know your whole story and you don't know mine, but I believe we're both fairly well adjusted people, with somewhat troubled backgrounds, but we've overcome most of that and are stronger for the experience. Only sometimes when the nights are long, we dwell on such things and relive that which we cannot change...

    Please keep writing. Your world is a place of wonders and I quite enjoy my visits here.

  20. Bonnie is absolutely sensible and absolutely right. Couldn't add anything more to that. Except - sleep well!

  21. friko - we're here now. you're a talented writer and thinker. i'm grateful. steven

  22. Try reading here for a bit. The method helped me...

  23. You have too much drive and talent to be down for long. We are all wacky and uneven creatures (at least those of us who are interesting at all).

  24. I've told you to your face (well, straight into your listening ear!) how much I admire both your writing and your outlook on life. Be kind to yourself, and admit you're good! Except at sleeping, of course, and anybody can be excused in that department! LOL :)

  25. Friko,

    Intelligent. Witty. Caring. Funny. Keen observer of life. Writer.

    That's how I know you. It's incomplete, but I'm thankful that I found your blog and the personality behind it.

  26. Wow,25 comments. You have lots of friends that seem to disagree with your assessments. I guess we all see through different glasses and come from different lives, and perhaps those who told you, wrongly, that you were not good enough, thought they were challenging you to be better and not deflating your optimism. Insomnia is a rotten thing that comes in the night without reason. I hate it when it happens to me because that is the time we see through a glass darkly.

  27. Look how many of us, your readers, say that all of this strikes a chord with us. We can relate to the things you have experienced. At first I wondered if this was a response to one of the "writing prompts" - but as I read on, realised that here you are a brave and whole person sharing hard things. I grew up knowing without a doubt that I would never be good enough to be loved. It has taken many, many years for me to know that I am loved, and even then there are times when I can only beat myself up (metaphorically) for being such a bad person.

    Hope you're doing better now. Every Blessing

  28. You know what happens when you tear down a core belief that you've held since childhood? You get to build a new core belief in its place.

    Most people get it right the second time.

    So tear down that core belief and start building.

  29. Sorry to ring the same bell, Friko, but I also think you are terrific. You are deeply honest and nothing resonates more deeply with me than honesty. The key, as always, is not allowing others to define who we are.

  30. Friko - the things you had hurled at you when you were a child were simply NOT TRUE. The real truth is that we all love you very much and your blogs are brilliant!

  31. THEY were SO wrong! Dump them!

  32. Hello to you Friko. This is another of your posts that just makes me wish that we did live closer together.

    I was well into adulthood before I came across, probably through reading, the concept of parental "unconditional love." Twas then that I realized I might have missed getting it. When as a child you are worried that if the dentist finds a cavity in a tooth of yours, it is another proof of your failure, well....

    If we ever do get to sit down at that table together with that cup/glass of something, I think we might trade many tales. For now, I just treasure the opportunities you give through your writing to see how lucky I am to have met you over the airways.


  33. No child could possibly understand not being loved unconditionally by its mother . And the scars run deep .
    I hope that , once it became light , you were able to leave the unhappiness behind . Your life is YOUR demonstration of your worth . And you're making an excellent job of it .

  34. That was then. This is now. Parents make mistakes. Forgive them and move on. (It worked for me.)

  35. Stepping out of the circular and either/or thinking is challenging. Leaving thinking behind as to allow for feeling, fully, the childhood hurts and despair, the pains accumulated over a life time is yet another challenge. We are all on route to healing and to coming home, home to who we really are. Being with our feelings will get us to where we are.

  36. If you want to find someone who will tell you you are not good enough, you can find them. I think I probably had the same childhood experience. I cannot to this day reveal the names my own parents called me (too painful). You are correct, it is pyschological abuse.

    I might not have been the best parent to my kids, but I did manage to bite my tongue and never call them names. I am sure my own parents had a rought time as children than I did, so they tried too. I know my Mom did, she shared some of her experiences and they were awful. I think my daughter managed to break the cycle with her girls. Thank goodness. That is the best any of us can do....not pass the pain onto others. You will feel better, a good night's sleep always helps. Dianne

  37. I agree with all that has been written before. You are a very talented writer and your blog is always a joy to read.

    I don't know why your parents had to demean you; maybe they were very insecure. But that was their failing and not yours. They were wrong in their harsh words and they were wrong in their assessment of you. You are not responsible for the failings of your parents then or now. You are obviously a very caring person. Let the past go and accept yourself for the wonderful person that your followers all see.

  38. I'm so touched by your openness and honesty. You are maybe the most frank blogger I know. Because of that, this post is powerful to me. You don't mess around, you're strong, you state your opinions openly and courageously. Now you state your vulnerability the same way. It does me good, and also to see such stellar words from friends here.

    I sure hate to see you suffer from this after so long though. These words and advice are all well and good, but I imagine it is damn hard to undo the endless tapes that were laid on your sweet brain when you were a wee one. Those are so hard to erase. Practice. Practice. Practice.

    I like you an awful lot.

  39. I will say do not dwell in your past. You have moved away from your childhood home. Leave your childhood memories there. Make new happy memories to fill the space where you are living in now. Do not let anything bring back the pains of your childhood. If it starts to happen, ignore it, Leave it behind, let it go, blow it away and move on. Do not give your brain permission to consider such sadness. Think about redecorating, planting flowers, pictures you will take, people you will visit, food you will cook. Shrink the sad space in your brain. Do not give it power. Do not feed it cookies. Starve it and ignore it. It will curl up and shrink away.

  40. The sad part about being told something like that as a child is that it might only be said once, or once in a while, but we tend to pick up that slack and remind ourselves of its message forever after. That doesn't make it a truth, yet we believe it all the same. And it takes so many "You're amazing and wonderful" (and make no mistake .. you absolutely are) to even begin to make a dent in "you're useless."

    Hurtful statements come from flawed people.. and we're all flawed. We're all guilty of it at times. It doesn't make us horrible but it doesn't make us right, either.

    During sleepless times (and I understand those well), it's usually best to rely on your rational voice rather than your emotional voice. The former tends to become louder in the morning. Embrace that because it usually speaks the truth.

    It's not disloyal, ungrateful or wrong to be "disobedient" to those we love if we believe they might wrong.

  41. F...Lovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelove...................D

  42. No words, just a hug from a fellow insomniac who hears the words pictured in her brain. Damn those biscuits anyway!

  43. Dear Friko, I know and understand from experience. Sad, isn't it, that so many people do? Ah well... that's life. It's full of sadness and stupid people who are cruel to others (so they can feel better about themselves perhaps?). On the other hand... it's full of love and happiness and wonderful people too ;-) Just look at us! We're the best!

  44. so...Friko.. here I am , a glass of good red, the rain,

    I can't possibly say anything more profound or brilliant than those above me here...

    I stand fairly confident now that I am fairly awesome :)

    but a few months ago I was accused of writing some nasty letter to my mother( over six years ago) and of course denied it , explained how I thought an email might have been "misused" , etc to my trusted and loved siblings/step siblings,..

    and still... the situation remained. the accusation remained. Until just a few weeks ago I finally admitted to my brother that perhaps, yes, indeed, I had written this scathing letter. That I was so hurt and bitter and messed up that perhaps drunk or tired or in a dark and now forgotten or blocked out moment I had written and sent this letter to mom years ago . Can you imagine?

    With this "confession" my brother went to my mother and it turns out it was not true at all. That she had "exaggerated". That she had created this whole drama to make me look bad in defense of her actions.

    I don't know what hurts more. The fact that I was willing to own a hurtful and spiteful and petty thing that I wasn't responsible for because deep down I doubt myself, or that no one came to me for years to ask me about it and had taken the story at face value .


    you are loved.

    you are.

    and your light shines and shines and shines.


Comments are good, I like to know what you think of my posts. I know you'll keep it civil.