ghost castle

valid emotions

i don't know how to build the belief that my emotions are valid.

one of my biggest issues is that i was "a smart kid." "smart kid syndrome" isn't exactly rare. a quick description would be someone who does really well in school but then immediately crashes as soon as that stops. the moment the work starts to become difficult, the smart kid falls apart completely. not only have they not learned how to adapt because they have a talent that let them sail through school, but it also undermines their very identity.

sorry if i sound like an asshole complaining about smarts. i hear it too.

if you're a "smart kid," then from an early age you learn that this quality is what makes you special. it's what your parents want to show off. it's what your teachers fawn over. it's the reason you're in special classes and it's the reason you're happy and it's the reason you're the de facto head of the friend group—because you have the quality, you have the thing that makes you special, that earns respect and trust. that earns you love. you're loved, because you excel. you're loved because you achieve.

an achievement-based self esteem is easy to maintain in that situation. there's achievement in every single school day. homework, tests, report cards, those special day-long tests you'd do at the end of the year. but then the schoolwork catches up to you. now not only are you not achieving, you're actually failing, and often. because all being "smart" is is just a little bit of a head start. it's nothing. it got you a handful of good in some nice school years, and now it put you on this cliff edge.

and just like that, the reason you deserve to be loved is gone. and you feel like such a disappointment. and you hate yourself. not like an angry, burning hate. well, sometimes. but mostly, you hate yourself like ash hates itself for not being fire. dark, cold, lifeless hate, created by the death of what you were. and suddenly your body is overflowing with things you've never felt before; fear, weakness, insecurity, doubt, etc. but don't you dare show them. don't you dare make them more disappointed. they don't love you anymore and they won't show you empathy. they'll only find a way to love you less. you shut those fucking emotions up and keep your head down.

it's hard to pay attention when you don't believe you deserve to be loved. it's hard to keep up in geometry when you're missing the basics because you're vomiting at the thought of being this thing forever. when it makes you sick and anxious so often. when you're missing one or two days every week, and you have to stay after school to make up the time. when you spend a week out of school because you can't get out of bed without having an emotional breakdown. when they start bringing you in on saturdays just to try to get you to do your shit. when they pull you out of normal classes and sit you at a computer all day because maybe then you'll be able to get something done. farther and farther away, more and more isolated. more and more worthless.

and of course after school it's hard to achieve very often. there's not a lot of tests in regular life. so now you have to face reality: by some bad twist of fate, you got fucked up real early. you haven't viewed yourself in any normal way your whole life. you have to take those emotions you stuffed down for so long, and you have to feel them. you have to accept them. and you have to mourn. you have to take this self esteem that's based on achievement and you have to learn to base it on the validity of your emotions instead. your emotions are valid not because you have any kind of special quality, but because nothing could ever invalidate them.

but how? i don't feel like my emotions are valid. i haven't probably since i was a child. i don't know the last time i didn't hate myself for getting angry, or wasn't ashamed to be sad. i still am so afraid to show any weakness. i've been judging myself my whole life. i don't know how to stop it. all i can do is notice it when it happens and try to question it. drive it into my head like a railroad spike, your-emotions-are-valid. stop treating them like beasts i have to try not to wake.

i don't know. i don't know how to end this entry. i'm just putting some shit together. trying to figure out why my self esteem is so goddamn bad. i think that's probably a good chunk of it. i feel like such a pathetic dick complaining about this stupid shit. people have way worse problems than me. how dare i waste their time with my idiotic non-problems. ~i'm sad cuz i was smart!~ shut the hell up. but then, that's just the same thing, isn't it? saying my feelings are invalid because someone else has it worse. when someone always has it worse. shit. maybe that's where i should start.


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