a blog by Ellen Davies

I wasn’t always this enlightened

I wasn’t always this enlightened

I wasn’t always this enlightened. That title makes me laugh — as if I am enlightened now! (I am not, but I’m on the path somewhere.)

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Back when I was a teenager, I was a mean girl. I was also immature and insecure. I was the classic example of a mean girl — since I felt I was powerless in my life, I tried to exert some control over others. 

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I was not, however, Regina George. I wished I was Regina George. But I wasn’t even a Gretchen Wieners or Karen Smith. I was somewhere between that “plastics” group and Janis Ian.

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Here is a good description of me as a teenager:

Although [mean girls] diminish others in order to raise themselves up, they are not conscious of how negatively they feel about themselves. Diminishing others keeps their need to elevate themselves out of their conscious awareness (see note).

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I diminished others, certainly. I used my words to tear people down (behind their backs — I was never brave enough to face someone). I gossiped maliciously. I was two-faced, pretending to be friends with someone but attacking her behind her back.

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I definitely felt negatively about myself, and I expected rejection before it even happened. For example, I wanted to be a cheerleader, but I never tried out. They would never pick you, the voice in my head told me. You’re not good enough. At school games I talked about how bad the cheerleaders were and I picked apart their routines. This was, I know now, an unconscious reaction to how much I really wanted to be up there cheering. I disparaged them in order to make myself feel better.

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I also wanted to be in the show choir. But again, that negative voice in my head kept me far away from the choir room. I recall feeling left out and miserable, aching to be a part of the group that wouldn’t include me. I buried these feelings, never able to explain why the choir made me angry and why later I cried.

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In college I got into a bad relationship, unfortunately, with a manipulative boyfriend. Things started out well, but gradually turned toxic, with emotional and verbal abuse. I was the classic victim—low self-esteem, easily manipulated. He was the classic abuser, isolating me from my friends by telling me how awful they were.

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I was able to get out of that relationship before it got worse, thank goodness. My friends welcomed me back, relieved that I was no longer under his control. I started to branch out more, try new things. My grades improved. I started singing in the church choir. I got a part-time job.

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I still suffered from depression and anxiety, but I took baby steps towards maturity. Yet what really helped me grow up and change was meeting my husband.

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We met after my college graduation. I knew immediately he was different, because I could be myself around him—I never had to pretend to be more exciting or interesting. I could be me, and that had an amazing calming affect on me.

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He was (still is) a better person than me, and he inspired me. Our daughters used to ask, “How did you know dad was the one?” My response has always been this—he made me want to be a better person. (And also, I was crazy in love with him.)

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I am writing this to make peace with my past, because I am not proud of who I was, or how I once acted. I am also practicing self-compassion (which was last year’s New Year’s resolution). I have been so ashamed of myself that I never attended class reunions. I did not want to remember who I used to be. But I am learning to let go of that shame. These days I tell myself kind words: you were young, you were suffering so much emotional pain, you were doing the best you could.

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I am not that girl anymore. I have grown and changed. We can all grow and change. These days I do my best to speak with kind intention. I try to use my words to build people up, or at least, leave them undiminished.

Mantra: I speak with kind intention. 

Why Bullies Don’t Feel Bad (Or Don’t Know They Do)

psychologytoday.com Posted Mar 01, 2015

by Mary C. Lamia, Ph.D.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/intense-emotions-and-strong-feelings/201503/why-bullies-dont-feel-bad-or-dont-know-they-do



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