Some were applied on my own — such as feeling like I was the reason people I loved were hurt and left my life — and others came through either the people around me, the way I was treated, or illnesses I wouldn’t understand until I was much older.
The lies and labels others put on me created a shell of self-hatred and disappointment in myself.
As depression and feelings of hopelessness began to cloud my mind, all I could hear was the word ‘failure’.
For as long as I can remember, there was a lot of negativity piled onto me in my life. Early childhood trauma told me if I got close to those who I loved, I would lose them. In the span of two and a half years, I lost my mother, gained a step-mother, and nearly lost her in a car-accident, which left her in a coma for three days with severe brain damage.
I shut down, and locked myself in a world of books. At the time, we were not aware I had a mental illness, and this fuelled into issues with my family.
I was disobedient, I didn’t have friends — save for the girls on my street I was growing up with — and I quickly earned the ‘biggest loser’ label in school. I was a chubby kid, which led to teasing and bullying. Kids would scream “earthquake” as I walked onto the playground, and they would pretend to fall off the play-set.
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One of my first ‘boyfriends’ broke up with me the day after we started dating because I wasn’t ‘hot enough’. In high school, I was called a bigot and closed-minded simply for being a Christian. I could go on with example after example of things piled up on me, painting a very skewed image of myself in the mirror.
By the time I had graduated college, I was a mess.
When I had a complete mental and emotional breakdown just over a year later (thus discovering I had BiPolar II disorder and two anxiety disorders), I didn’t even know who I was anymore.
Between the labels and lies which had piled onto me throughout my life, and the new labels and lies which came from being mentally ill, I couldn’t figure out where I was in the midst of all that crap.
I did my best to move forward and try to reclaim my life, and while I managed to rediscover myself, I hadn’t actually defeated those lies and those labels. I had just buried them. For the most part, I even managed to convince myself they didn’t exist anymore.
The mask I had created to show the world was fooling me just as much as it was them.
The biggest problem with lies and labels and their control over us is they filter into all areas of our lives, including relationships. While my time dating my now-husband was one of the strongest, best relationships of my life, once we got married these things began to filter in. They affected our relationship health by causing me to get angry and upset over things I thought he was saying because of my own insecurities which I had built up.
And probably most devastating, the lies filtered into our intimacy. I struggled to be intimate because of all of these lies — I was too fat, too unattractive, my thighs were too big, I’m not sexy, I’m too emotional, I won’t be able to please him because I’m too inexperienced. I couldn’t enjoy it because then I’m using him, I’m manipulating him. I couldn’t enjoy it because he waited for me, but I never waited for him. I was garbage. I was a failure.
I struggled in my job, even though it was my dream job, because I kept expecting it to fall apart.
I was the girl who destroyed everything I touched, lost everything I loved.
I wasn’t really as strong a writer as I was being told; they were just pandering to me. I’m barely adequate, because I’ll never really be good enough.
I was waiting to be fired for not being good enough, and to have my husband walk out on me for not being good enough. It took my husband being brave enough to tell me I should talk to someone, for me to step up and go forward with it.
A few weeks later, I met with a Christian Counsellor who walked me through a program which teaches you how to discover who you really are amidst the lies and labels, and how to let them go. It meant going back to that little girl, and one by one dissecting the lies and labels at their roots.
It meant, for me, prayerfully seeking out God to find out the positive labels he had for me.
At the end, I found a girl who was brave and bold, loving and caring, who wore her heart on her sleeve and pursued everything with a fiery passion.
Just over a year later, my marriage is thriving, my career is thriving, and I’ve learned to differentiate between the mess of a girl who was hidden inside, and this new girl. I have flaws, but that’s part of being human.
Flaws do not make me a failure; flaws make me human. I’m not perfect, but I’m all kinds of awesome, because I’ve learned to live a life free from labels and free from lies.
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