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Old 08-15-2007, 08:26 PM   #1
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Problems with "Self Identity" among others

Hello. I'm a 20 year old male. I never fully developed a sense of self identity and I'm really suffering because of it. I'm very inconsistent in being myself; let me explain. I'm not able to be myself with my family. I do not feel confortable with my family(as well as people I meet throughout the day that have these same negative traits). Because of this, I don't have sufficient experience in being myself, which is the reason why I don't feel secure doing so.
I'm aware that I haven't fully described my family experiences yet. Though I will do my best to try to describe them, I'd like to indicate that I feel insecure with pretty much everybody. I don't feel confortable with myself when I'm around all types of people. I also feel very unconfortable with people I consider kind and understanging; and in cases like these, my inability to be myself pretty much lies in my fear that these particularly intelligent and understading people(more so than most other people at least) will see right through me. I'm afraid that they'll see the things that I percieve of myself. I'm scared that they'll see my shame and guilt and cause them to not be interested in me because of it. So there it is: I especially fear that people that I like will see that I have all these issues and decide to spend more time with people that don't have much of a constant inner struggle, people that are easier to get along with, people that require less maintenence.
I live with my mom and my older sister. My parents have been seperated for several years now. Growing up, I had a very difficult time in school. I just couldn't concentrate. I was used to all the chaos at home that when it came time to sit down for long periods of time and concentrate, I just got irritated. At home, my father struggled holding two jobs just to barely make ends meet. It was only after my mother had my younger sister did she get a job. So this caused lots of frustration on my father. He really needed her support to make this family work. My mom has since pointed out to me that she was - and still is - stuggling with mental issues of her own. That does support the notion that some of this mental instability could be hereditary. My mother has anxiety problems; being with my father only made it worse. He would verbally abuse her; So she was being degraded constantly, having her self-esteem really suffer from it. Her insecurity is so bad from being scrutinized and judged so negatively that she has a very difficult time doing anything. And as far as the treatment I received from my father, I can safely state this: My relationship and interactions that I had with my father had the biggest impact on my life. It was by far the single most influential aspect of my life that has shaped me more than anything else. Physically and psychologically. I'm ashamed to say this(I know I shouldn't feel like that), but my treatment was so bad that he actually led me to believe that I was worthless, that I was inferior to everybody. And I felt that I deserved it too. A direct result from this is that when ever anybody suffers a misfortune, no matter how miniscule, I feel guilty for it. I wouldn't pass a lie detector test to save my life. So I constantly have a guilty conscience.
I'm currently unemployed and looking for a part time job. I intend on attending college this fall. I have enlisted in the Navy and will ship out for boot camp near the end of this year. My self identity problems are negatively affecting my social life. Its making work and school very difficult for me. I feel so unconfortable that its really hindering my performance at work(when I had a job) and academically. Its preventing me from achieving my goals. Its preventing me from living my life. I have a hard time feeling confortable with people, period. My biggest fear right now is that when I leave to serve in the Navy is that I won't be able to make friends and have a really difficult time getting along with the people I'll be serving with. So my question, finally, is this: How should I go about establishing my self identity at the age of 20? How do I start building positive relationships with people with this damaged sense of self? How do I practice positive social habits with my overwhelming anxiety? How do I learn to get rid of these automatic negative thoughts that I have so that I can have a clear enough mind do the things that I need to do?
I know thats a lot of information but I do really believe that the better I am in describing my problems, the better and more detailed the feedback would be. I've been looking at lots of other posts on this website and its left me thinking to myself, "Why haven't I found this website before?" Its just remarkable to me that people can actually go online and ask questions about personal problems they're having and have other people share their personal experience and provide useful advice. I know it sounds cheesy but I've been a member for one day and already I've found tons of answers to personal questions that I was too embarassed to ask myself. So to all the people who leave useful advice to those who desperately need it, thank you.

 
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Old 08-15-2007, 08:41 PM   #2
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Re: Problems with "Self Identity" among others

HI nametaken....
wow long post! I'm sorry you and your mom had to endure the abusive treatment from your dad. You sound like a very smart guy who thinks things thru very analytically. I think maybe some therapy might help, you need to realize that you did nothing wrong, you grew up in an abusive household and it had an effect on you. You are NOT worthless, you are a worthwhile person with a lot of insight. I hope you can help your mom in some way to regain her self esteem. Your father took so much away from you both, but he's gone now and you can both move forward to better days. I hope your choice to join the service gives you much satisfaction. I'm sure everyone there will be feeling nervous leaving friends and family behind and I've heard that friends that people make in the military sometimes are lifelong friends because they share a common bond. Look to the future, you sound like you are, and you are moving in the right direction to improve yourself. As far as how to develop your identity, try to discover what you enjoy and spend time doing that. Maybe a counselor would have other suggestions. Don't be afraid to talk about it.......it will help you heal.
Good luck to you!

 
Old 08-15-2007, 08:52 PM   #3
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Re: Problems with "Self Identity" among others

I grew up in an atmosphere very like the one you described, although it was my mother who was abusive and my father sided with her always. I know some of what you are feeling, it is me in my younger days. I had a few years of therapy and counselling which has made it posssible for me to repair a lot of the damage. I was convinced that every good thing people said to or about me was just a kind lie to make me feel better, or because I had sucessfully deceived them into thinking I was a worthwhile person. If you can get counselling, then go for it. About the Navy, Rose is right, you will be among a lot of people who are just as nervous and out-of-place as you are. Remember, you are just the same as everyone else. In fact this change in your life situation may be just the thing for you. When I went off to nursing school, I was able to leave a lot behind and fitted in quite well with all the other newcomers. Good Luck, Sera

 
Old 08-16-2007, 06:59 AM   #4
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Re: Problems with "Self Identity" among others

i truely am sorry for what you had to go thru.you have gotten some excellent advice already but i just wanted to add a couple things.i am amazed at your ability to 'read' yourself at only age 20,most 20 year olds are not that introspective yet.you DO have a reason for being here,no one is ever here without one,you just have not found that reason yet.i definitely agree in seeing a therepist to help you find you a bit more clearly.we all have things we had to deal with while growing up and it does shape us in adulthood.but every challenge that you had to deal with and just accept has actually made you much stronger than you think you are and has also gave you am amazing ability to see things much more profoundly than most,even people twice your age.i do think that being in the service will be a huge help to you.it appears during your life that all you heard was negativity with you and your mom,you will find while in the navy,a huge sense of purpose and how great you can work together as a team with other people around you.it builds strength and charachter.you will also find that you are much more mature and wiser than many of the people you will be meeting and working with,and YOU can actually be a huge help to these people.tho we are very much products of our environments while we were growing up,it does not have to define you,you know what i mean?growing up with all the negatives didn't give you the chance for you to become what you truely are capable of being.

my childhood really sucked in that my sister got all the attention just because of her looks and being smart,i really showed no potential and had no looks back then and i felt worthless.no one in my family ever bothered to see me or 'build me up'?my father was also very much the perfectionist.but i was very lucky in that once i started playing softball,i had the wonderful fortune of having a fantastic team of coaches who did see the positives in me and built me up.if it wasn't for this husband and wife set of coaches just being in my life for three years,i honestly don't know where i would have ended up.just having even one person who believes in you can make all the difference in how we feel about ourselves,ya know?

the wonderful thing about just working with a good therepist is that they can help you to change your thinking patterns about yourself and bring out what should have been brought out in you all along.just remeber that for every 'bad" experience in our lives that we take the challenge up on or have to force ourselves to deal with matters in what becomes a big part of our eventual personality.you have strength in you just because of the way you grew up and the things you had to force yourself to deal with,believe me,it IS in there.you are very much a 'survivor" just to even be here right now,really.you actually do know what your weaknesses are and your strengths.many people go thru their entire lives and never really actually come to that point.you are very wise beyond your years,believe me, it shows in this post.you just need to work on you for a while and get rid of the crap that has been placed inside your head.i worked with a wonderful therepist who helped me to really fully realize my potential.you ARE a good person and you DO deserve to be comfortable with yourself and enjoy your life.its time to put the past behind you and look to that really great future for yourself.you have already won one battle,you made it to where you are now.i am willing to bet that you would make a really great leader,all it would take is realizing what your true capabilities are and getting your self confidence back again.really.i seriously would seek out a good therepist who can help you achieve that.you just need to see all the positives in all that negativity that has been pushed into your head during your formative years.that inner strength is in there,you just need to pull it out and work with it to realize your full amazing potential and self worth.i wish you luck in this journey.you CAN do anything you really set your mind to.please keep us all posted in how things are going.you DO deserve to have happiness at this point in your life. FB
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