like, I basically think that deep down, I am a horrible person, and the only way anyone could ever like me is if I tricked them into it.
Welcome to: Exploring The Psyche Of Someone Who Was Abused As A Child, appropriate trigger warnings apply.
When you’re abused as a child you internalize a lot of shit. It’s easier to think that you’re a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad kid than to comprehend that the people who are supposed to love and protect you unconditionally are hurting you and letting you down in such fundamental ways because the world is a shitty, unsafe place. If it’s all because of YOU, then the world is still a place where people are good and bad things don’t happen to good people. The only reason bad things are happening to YOU is because you suck and deserve it. If you could just be a better person, things would be okay. If you could just try harder, be more honest, have better intentions, fuck up less, then you wouldn’t be hurt so badly so often.
This is what abuse (and, for that matter, depression, although in a different way) teaches you: that you are a bad person, who deserves for bad things to happen to you, and does not deserve for good things to happen to you, or even for anyone to have a good opinion of you, ever.
Today, every accomplishment that I make is tinged with anxiety. Every time I make a friend, I dread the day that they will figure out my “secret” - that really, I am not the funny, passionate, justice-oriented person they like, but a horrible, twisted liar who tricks people by putting on a Very Good Act of being a funny, passionate, justice-oriented person who is likeable (and even loveable). When they figure this out, they will be disgusted, and rightfully so, because I tricked them, manipulated them into liking me when I knew all along the reality of myself.
The ultimate peril of this is that one criticism of something I’ve done or am doing can send me into big, looping, downward spirals of self-hatred. Good feedback and positive reinforcement makes me feel guilty (because I don’t deserve it); bad feedback and negative reinforcement make me upset at best and suicidal at worst (because it’s just confirmation of everything I knew all along, and now the person criticizing me has Figured It Out - it being my deepest, darkest secret, which is that I’m a bad person masquerading as a good one). I know that, as a human being, I need to deal with this. I need to be able to take personal criticism without falling apart. Often the way I deal with this is by acting utterly impervious - I am by turns sarcastic, defensive, righteously angry. I laugh things off. I stay upbeat. But it’s hard to process things - hard to separate the criticisms that I need to take from the criticisms that I need to let go; hard to draw healthy boundaries; hard to separate my sense of self and self-worth from how other people see me.
A performance review at work, a dicussion with a prof of a paper I’m writing, can undo me completely.
And That’s Why You Shouldn’t Abuse Kids: we grow up into twisted, confused people who want desperately to be good but feel that we’re fundamentally bad, and feel constant guilt about any redeeming qualities that other people percieve in us.