Impostor Syndrome Redux

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I posted an update in my Dream Stoker Nation group about the recommitment to writing here on my blog, despite only being able to do it from my phone. In the update I included information about the new things I’ve been doing with it, as well as some of the positive feedback I’ve received regarding my writing. I also mentioned a couple of things I’ve done to connect with others to offer my writing services in order to expand, grow, and hopefully eventually be able to earn an income with my writing.

One of my actual long-time friends is part of the group and told me I was doing great. I responded that I wish I could internalize that.

“Repetition helps.”

“Hmmm, I must be repeating the wrong things.”

The fact of the matter is this: no matter how many compliments I get about my writing, it doesn’t even scratch the surface of this belief that I’m a massive failure and screw-up.

My self-identity is so intricately linked to my relationships – with my kids, especially my son, as well as others, and with my ability to stay consistently functional and take care of the day-to-day basics of parenting Luna, maintaining a relatively clean home, and just being able to feel like I’m capable of having normal connections with other human beings.

I had a big blow a couple of weeks ago and experienced another major rupture in the relationship with my son. Somehow, I suspect this rupture is one that could take decades to repair – and there is nothing I can do about it, because, at this point, it is about his journey, his process, and his healing from our past together.

The words he said to me weren’t malicious, but sincere reflections of how wounded he has been by our relationship and representative of his perspective and perceptions.

They hurt. Deeply.

I feel like I’ve failed, even though I now have the best understanding I ever have as to why, despite my many efforts to be a better parent, a more stable person, and not toxically co-dependent I’ve never been able to be that person. I also have come to understand more of the layers and complexities that have worked against me, both internally and externally, that have contributed to my lack of progress in getting and staying out of the poverty cycle and subsistence living.

I know I write well, generally speaking. I’ve always loved words and books. Reading was my escape at an early age. Rote repetition of spelling words like I was in a spelling bee was almost like a compulsive, nervous tic I had as a child. In middle school we had a section on poetry and created our own poetry books. Mine had sanded plywood covers held together by twine, yarn, or some kind of textile. I had painstakingly drawn a picture of a white, winged unicorn, and a bright, colorful rainbow. The pages contained my best, initial efforts at all the poetic forms taught that quarter: Acrostic, Haiku, free verse, couplet, limerick and other forms which escape my memory.

Later, in regular high school, I struggled to write papers and essays. However, when I returned to complete my High School Diploma (the GED I had earned wasn’t good enough for me, I wanted my diploma) I became the editor and a writer for our school newsletter. In college I excelled in my writing courses and fell in love, again, with writing, especially poetry.

Writing has been the only thing I’ve ever done consistently well.

Bit by bit, as every relationship and friendship I had bent, broke, and dissipated, words have been the only constructive thing – and even they left me, or I them, for a long while, writing sporadically over a span of twenty years. Words and writing have been central and integral to my healing and recovery over the past year and a half. I think they’ve saved my life and they are the only way I know to express the deepest and truest parts of me – who I’ve been, who I’m becoming, and who I want to be.

I’ve never known, recognized, or understood myself or my emotions without writing. Expressing my feelings only truly happens when I write. Otherwise, I’m a mask of indifference, exhaustion, sadness, or rational thought and action.

So, receiving compliments about my writing does feel good and I can accept them. However, when those affirming words spread into statements about how I’m functioning or what a great, amazing, wonderful, strong, person I am – I feel like an impostor and a fake.

If my son can’t see those things in me and I can’t see them in myself, then how can total strangers or distant friends who only read my words, genuinely see the real me? I must, somehow, be manipulating and putting on a front, in order for others to see and say those things.

None of that is true, and I know that, in my head. But, it’s who I was and how I operated most of our lives together. It’s what his experience of me has been. It’s what I’ve internalized and what my heart and mind are used to believing about me, my character, the very essence of who I am.

Progress is being made. I’m learning who I am in and through love and faith, with the help of a lot of different people – including my son. The shame and guilt I’ve lived with are mostly gone. Now there’s sorrow and grief, which I’ve never learned to deal with constructively, and I’m working through those things, in the only way I know how – with words.

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13 comments

  1. Hi there. I’m also participating in the UBC. I agree, keep writing! It will help you heal and rewrite you story. Who you are is so much bigger than the sum of your life’s experiences. And you can heal and rewrite your story so that you are aligned with all of the positive comments others say about you. Something that has helped me is creating a list of “I am” statements. Not my idea, but I share it with everyone. I blogged about it a few months ago. So not this particular blog is not part of my challenge blogs, but i would be honored if you would peak at it and create your own list. You are brave and courageous for putting your feelings and heart out here for us. Stay the course!!! Kathi http://fitbattle.com/2013/01/28/how-do-you-use-the-words-i-am/

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    1. Kathi,
      Thank you for stopping by and sharing your encouragement, experience, and tools. I will check out the post. I may use that as part of August’s 28 Days To A New Me Commitment Journey.

      Blessings,
      Kina

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  2. This post touches my heart. I, too have often felt like a failure even in the midst of success. Thank you for sharing your story. I’ll be praying for you and your son.

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  3. This post touches my heart. I, too, often feel like a failure in the midst of success. Thanks for sharing your story. I’ll be praying for you and your son. God bless!

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  4. I think you should try not too blame yourself too much and focus on ways to fix the relationship with your son. I know many mothers who had huge fights with their (usually teenage) sons. All managed to fix the relationship and now have good, loving relationship with the son. Good luck!

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    1. Tal,
      Thank you for stopping by and commenting.

      I have not and won’t ever give up on having a relationship with my son. However, at this point, I have to respect his decision and his boundaries. He’s 26, married, and as of August of last year, no longer legally my son. He was formally adopted into a different family before his wedding this year. So, he’s in the process of building and creating the life he wants for himself and his family.

      In the meantime, I am continuing my own healing journey and focusing on being a better parent to his four year old sister than I was able to be to him and his 20 y.o. sister, whom I have a better relationship with because she’s been around to see more of the work I’ve been doing.

      I understand where he’s at, because I was there too with the only adult family member who is still alive from the things I lived through while growing up. It wasn’t until I was ready to face my own issues, instead of focusing on their actions and how I believed and perceived them that I was able to achieve acceptance and forgiveness.

      I have to allow him the space and time to do the same and accept that his process and path are not up to me.

      Blessings,
      Kina

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  5. I very much appreciate your struggle here. While I have “a way with words,” I have thus far been unable to successfully connect with my 4 children and my wife and I are currently separated. I hope and pray for reconciliation, but I’m growing increasingly resigned to the fact that the best thing I can do is sit in front of my computer screen and write. I’m finding that pursuing a writing career is, in terms of family life, perhaps even more damaging a vocation as pastoral service. At the same time, it’s the only thing I do well that helps me stay sane. So, I write. And pray.

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    1. Tony,
      I completely understand where you’re coming from. I know that I’ve had to do a lot of research, self-awareness, 12 Step work, and access as many resources as possible over the last year and a half in order to not abandon my family and myself to despair, depression, and lost hope.

      There have been gains and improvements in many of my relationships – but it is a daily, moment by moment effort to be engaged, connected, and present when I am around others, especially loved ones.

      On top of what I suspect is the low-level bi-polar condition, cyclothymia, I just figured out I likely have an attachment disorder that not only keeps me disconnected in my relationships with others, but does the same in my relationship with myself and especially God.

      Thankfully, what I’ve learned through my participation in The Circle of Security therapeutic group I attended in May/June, I’m piecing more of the puzzle together and making headway.

      I wonder if researching attachment disorders and learning about the attachment process and cycle might be of assistance in your situation?

      (((Hugs))) and good luck.

      Blessings,
      Kina

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