Some people are aware of the pieces of themselves that have broken off because of trauma inflicted by others. But how many of us take into account just how many pieces of ourselves we’ve willing given away?
Many times when I’ve spoken with people, either in a personal or professional capacity, or even taken personal inventory of my own shortcomings, the pain inflicted by others is the first thing that comes to mind. We recall mommy or daddy wounds, cruel extended families or teachers, dismissive siblings, or toxic relationships. But the common thread among a lot of people who were deeply hurt in early childhood is that we can all have a very self-destructive tendency to then proceed to harm ourselves directly via over-extending ourselves for other people. Many abused or neglected children, particularly girls, grow up to be people-pleasing, capitulating, over-worked, and stressed balls of anxiety. The early childhood need for warmth, unconditional love, and appreciation was not met, and therefore manifested into bending over backwards, never saying “No,” always being ready to help, and never disagreeing, for fear of being rejected.
Every time we show up to places that we don’t want to be, engage with people who do not respect or appreciate us, stay in relationships where we are being used or neglected, fail to speak our minds, or give of time and resources that are scarce, we willingly, directly chip away at a piece of ourselves. Most people won’t admit this, but a large part of their anger towards the people in their adult lives is how they have directly allowed the mistreatment, for fear of nothing other than being rejected or abandoned. In general, people don’t like to talk about self-harm. But self-harm isn’t just cutting your wrists or developing an eating disorder; it’s staying in situations where your body might not be at risk, but your feelings, your pride, and your dignity are under constant attack.