Day 17 - Dermatillomania: Where The Negative Thoughts Begin

7:20 PM

I read over my last post and although I am satisfied with it, I am not satisfied with the depth of my personal investigation. I had read Angela Hartlin’s latest post ( about her recovery from dermatillomania, and she described an aspect of the therapy she did. She said that her picking was covering up deep emotional traumas that she hadn’t dealt with, and although I found some need for validation and self-judgment through my last blog, it seemed as though these things were existent, but at a more superficial level. What is lying deeper beneath these experiences? What is so painful that it is being ignored through picking, and then covered up under these self-limiting beliefs? Please read my last blog for context here, because I’m going to dive straight into some more self-forgiveness to dig deeper.

I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to require validation from cooking meals for others, through the positive feedback I get which makes me feel ‘good’ and ‘worthwhile’.

Within this, I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to think, believe and perceive that if I don’t get these internal energetic experiences that I will feel ‘bad’, and ‘worthless’.

I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to believe myself to be ‘worthless’, instead of seeing, realizing and understanding that everyone alive has immense and immeasurable worth, within the mere fact that they are alive.

I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to have experienced myself as being ‘worthless’ as a child, because I couldn’t see myself as bringing any ‘value’ or ‘worth’ to the family.

When I would look at all the people in my world as a child, I can see that I really liked them a lot. I really looked up to and admired most of the people that had an influence in my life, and it was very important to me that they like me too. But over time, I had developed this idea, perception and belief that they didn’t, and that they in fact dis-liked me. Now, don’t get me wrong here, there is a very fine line that must be walked where one does not fall onto the side of blame. I had a normal upbringing, where my parents came to my sports events and school plays, I had a circle of friends, and I always had someone that was ready to listen if I needed to talk. What I am looking at is my experience as a child – an experience developed from my own interpretations of events and play-outs, where I would have thoughts and imaginations that would create internal emotional experiences which I would then believe to be true and accurate. These were obviously not true and accurate, because if I had cross-referenced with the actual reality of the situation, I would have seen that my friends and family were extremely supportive and caring, and assisted and supported me to the absolute best of their ability consistently throughout my life. But, of course, I was young and I listened more to how I felt than what I saw around me. I also didn’t know any different and took for granted all the things my parents did, and the time and resources they put into me and my development. All this to say, I am not looking to place blame on any family member nor myself, that would lead to nowhere. What I am doing is taking self-responsibility for the experience I had created for myself, as a child, in innocence and within innocence because I didn’t understand what I was doing.

Looking back I see I was a very shy and frightened child. I have a significant memory of this experience of petrification of being exposed, or for people to see me, look at me, or talk about me. This caused me to be very quiet, and to learn how to go unnoticed whenever possible. I was also very sensitive and easily hurt, and if I got hurt, I would not express it. I would instead go into an entire internal experience that would be quite overwhelming - suppression. It frightened me and for some reason, I didn’t want anybody to know what was going on inside of me, I felt it was ‘bad’ and ‘wrong’ for me to be feeling this way. This led me to become quite reserved, and I would feel unsafe to express myself around others. I would go into this waiting and observing experience, where I would hold myself into myself and wait for the other person to express themselves, and that would show me the ‘rules’, or the ‘boundaries’ within which it would be safe for me to express myself as well within the particular social interaction. I adapted within self-preservation, to only let myself express myself within the boundaries set by someone else, because I feared that if I were to express myself freely, I might say something that would cause a reaction or trigger a comment or an action that could potentially hurt me.

So, being so quiet, unnoticed and reserved, I also did not know how to express the internal experience of profound love, admiration and joy I had for those around me. I would at times feel bursting and bubbling over with these emotional experiences, but on the outside it would probably look like I was just staring at the person. And I would want the person to do something to get this experience out of me and into something real, to share it with me and experience it together. I experienced myself as having longing questions: how do I express this? Is it safe for me to express this? Do you feel the same way?

But if a person doesn’t know what is going on in a child’s mind, how can that person possibly move themselves to assist that child in any way? So each time my internal experience wasn’t validated and made real by someone outside of myself, I would go into the opposite emotional experience of sadness and isolation. The good feelings would go away and I would be left not understanding why I now felt bad, low, lonely and alone. Unfortunately, I, like most people, believed my internal experience to be true, or ‘correct’,  and that it was something that was being done unto me. I did not take self-responsibility by seeing myself as the source, and so the solution, but instead looked outside of myself and began to blame my environment.

I began to think I was bad or that there was something wrong with me that I wasn’t aware of. I thought I was unlikeable. I was bullied at school because I was a tomboy and dressed like a boy, which made me a target, and I was quiet and meek, which also made me a target. At school for a time I had very few friends, and the friendships I did have wouldn’t last long because I would fear getting hurt and take things personally and the friendships would be too painful. I would disassociate completely in class and teachers would become frustrated and I would think they hated me. As a result, I would get low grades and my parents would get frustrated. I took all of this to mean that I was no good, I was useless, no one would want me around, no one should love me, and so on. And it is within this toxic internal environment where my self-perception took root and from which it would sprout.

I will continue in my next blog…

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