Last night I spent over an hour with Honor reminding him of who he really is. That he is smart and kind and sweet and brave and good at math and reading and computers. He’s been believing the lies that the kids in his class are telling him: that he’s stupid, that he’s a “book worm” (apparently a high insult), that he’s not athletic. Aside from the mama-bear rage that this incites in me, I also feel guilt.
I’m telling Honor all of these things that I know are true about him, telling him over and over again to believe the truth about himself, not the lies other people tell, and I worry that he got this propensity from me. I had to laugh at the irony of ME telling this to anyone. Last time I saw my therapist he asked me, “When are you going to start believing that you’re a really cool person?”
I think Honor and I both get caught up in the fact that, yes, people are actually communicating things that are not true to us: That we are unimportant or stupid, unloved or un-liked, that we are not worth someone’s time, love or attention. I think I needed someone to acknowledge to me, YES, this is actually what someone is saying to you with their actions. Yes, Honor, they are telling you lies. Yes, it’s actually happening, it’s not all in your head. You are validated.
I told Honor last night that when someone tells him that he’s bad at math that that’s actually pretty funny because he isn’t bad at math, we’ve got the test scores to prove it. I asked him what he would think if someone told me I was bad at knitting. That’s pretty ridiculous, I’m not, I’ve got the sweaters to prove it. I wanted to normalize to him that people can say things that we don’t have to believe.
I think I have some pretty deep and valid abandonment issues so my default is to always believe that I’m unimportant, unloved, alone. All I want so deeply is to be considered. I’ve come to see that my problem is that I only believe the truth about myself when someone is telling me that I’m important, loved, surrounded.
I need to believe those things are true.
Even when someone is telling me that they’re not.
It’s hard to be 11 and on your way to middle school where the kids are only going to get meaner. (It’s hard to be 33, too.) I want so badly to instill these concepts into Honor now, to give him an inner peace that will get him through anything. I don’t want him to have to be learning these lessons in adulthood when he has 30 years of baggage and lies to wade through. I hope, hope, hope that undoing 33 years of lies I’ve so willingly swallowed will give me the wisdom to help Honor learn to believe what is true about himself.
When am I going to start believing that I’m a really cool person? I think now sounds good.