For the first time ever, I have started to better understand some of my motivating behaviors.
I suppose it’s a good place to start.
I keep a running list of what bothers me about myself so I can speak to my therapist. I ask myself questions when I pass immediate judgement on people or situations why I might be lacking the necessary empathy to better understand. I just didn’t know what to do with some of these thoughts.
My list of questions has included:
Why am I always so critical, often times even unintentionally. I take things very personally. Why is income such an indicator of, not only others worth, but my own self worth. I have high expectations for myself and those around me. I don’t listen well.
One part I have just come to understand is that my impressions of money come from the way I was raised. My father and mother put a lot of importance on earning money and having a reputable job that was not “blue collar” like my father. My father owned his own business and my mother managed the money. While we lived in a beautiful home in a great town, a child doesn’t really understand that. I just understood I didn’t have what the other kids around me had. Their parents afforded them luxuries my mother wouldn’t entertain. My friends families went on what felt like extravagant family vacations. If they wanted to shop at the mall, their parents gave them a credit card. I want allowed to buy Jordache jeans. I remember going away to sleep away camp, which is costly and certainly not something every child gets to do, but my clothes, my bedding and even the food my mother sent me with felt inferior. I didn’t get the care packages every other week that the other kids did. We were not poor by any means, we just lived in a moderately wealthy town and the friends I made just happened to fall into the wealthy category. My childhood didn’t feel unhappy to me, but now that I am forced to look back to discover why I measure things the way I do, I realize I was often times unhappy and I became a very jealous and competitive child.
While my father didn’t drink, he was a workaholic and I have my drive from his example but also built in from my birth father. Drive was one of my best qualities. I never associated workaholic to another form of addiction. I tried my entire life to win my fathers love. A father who didn’t want children and only agreed because my mother did and he wanted my mother. I didn’t know I was fighting a losing battle coupled with a personality that was inflamed my father. He wanted a bright child, but not smarter than him, despite the fact that he knew my education was important.
I have only just realized that working harder and earning more money always won accolades from my father. I didn’t even realize this by the time I was an adult. I do remember him scoffing at my college degree and that I would never know a hard days of work sitting at a desk. I distinctly recall years later, after a month of coming home from work in a black car at 10pm every evening, my father telling my mother he didn’t realize how hard I would have to be working. He didn’t know I heard him say that to her. I guess I didn’t know it most likely added fuel to the bonfire of my drive to succeed and “show him” I was valuable. And if value was hard work and money, I could show him that and he would value me.
So much of this makes sense to me. Why I equate self worth with money and achievement. And how money and achievement must be linked to drive and determination. I willed success at one point in my life and was literally able to achieve it through sheer determination. I never allowed myself the opportunity to fail, because failure meant my father would no longer value me.
And, in turn, I have learned not only that I don’t know how to value myself when I’m not earning money, living in the right town, in the right home, buying what I want, spending what I want … but I don’t value others who don’t measure wealth and achievement the same way I do.
I get that all this time it sounded like I was a spoiled brat, and sure, compared to most I probably am. I didn’t know why it was so important to me and could never understand why I placed such importance on it.
While I comprehend on an intellectual level what I’ve learned and discovered here, I know I don’t have the tools at hand to change my world view yet. Strangely enough, this was an area that Scott taught me to view slightly differently and I began to truly questioning what my issue really was. Why wasn’t it ever enough for me?
What if it still isn’t enough? What if I continue to judge value based on income and ambition?
This is easier said than changed.