Why it can be hard to be authentic if you have experienced abuse growing up
When it comes to authenticity, it's so much more than being an honest person. Authenticity is about knowing who you are and feeling comfortable with who you are. But as a woman, this is often complicated because women are often groomed by society on how we should act.
We are told to be nice. We are told that being a woman is to live by a man’s expectations of us. This is still an issue in 2021. This prevents us from expressing our true selves.
We are told to be feminine. And do not have too many expectations. We are told to not be aggressive or demanding. We are constantly told how not to act and feel. And of course, we are given that checklists to get them married at a certain age and to have kids.
And why wouldn't you want these things? Many women, yes, end up getting married and having kids. Some women are happy that they did get married and have children. For some women, it's not really what they wanted. But it was what was expected of them. Peer pressure does not help. Many women are also influenced by their female friends. It becomes a competition to see who gets married first. Or who gets pregnant first. Society also gets in a way of us being authentic. But a lot of this grooming can come from our background. Our parents can have expectations of us. Often, we are raised in the shadow of how our mothers were raised. Most of our mothers came from a time where women had limited opportunities. They were supposed to get married and have children and not complain about it. It is very groomed within a woman to not complain.
And if she does, she's ungrateful. Women are not given the space to be themselves. It becomes awfully hard to be authentic. The minute that you're asked who you are? It's "hey, I've been a mom. I've been a wife. I went to college. I did what was expected of me. I checked off all the boxes." But unfortunately, there are women out there who don't know who they truly are because they just wanted to please others. They checked off the boxes but do not feel fulfilled. And that is another problem for women. We are taught to please others. Therefore, we get removed from ourselves, the pressure of pleasing others and not letting anyone down really causes us to put ourselves on the back burner. We are constantly groomed on how to act and how to be. Not only do we not know ourselves, but we also don’t know what we want. Because no, one's never listened. We are not asked what we want for ourselves.
Women are often raised seen and not heard. We were raised to be pretty. To be sweet. To be quiet. To listen to your man. We are told to listen, but often we are never heard. We don't know what to ask for. There are so much social grooming and family grooming in our upbringing. It can be unconscious, but it's there. She may not even know that she's affected by her family, upbringing, and society, but she is. This is often understood as she gets older and she reflects on her life. It's like, what life have I been living? Is this the life that I've wanted? What makes this harder is if you came from a family of dysfunction. just about everyone has some type of dysfunction in their family.
But when you must deal with a narcissistic parent or a manipulative and controlling parent, or an abusive parent, it becomes even harder to be authentic. The trauma of abuse stays with us even into adulthood. Counseling does help to break free of conditioned toxic patterns that occurred in childhood. Counseling is a way to find out who you are and what you want so that you can be your authentic self.
But for those who have been verbally or physically abused, it's almost impossible to be authentic without going to therapy. Old triggers can make a person question what is real for them.
To be authentic, you must become self-aware. Being self-aware can be painful at times because it means acknowledging a lot of things that you did that you didn't want to do in your life. But it was expected of you. Being manipulated by a caretaker has a long-lasting effect. It can cause a woman to live a life that is not her personal choice. But a life designed by an unhealed childhood. Even now some adults are still dealing with this type of situation with their parents. I have heard many stories about narcissistic moms and verbally abusive dads still affecting their adult children.
When you have the noise in your head telling you that you can’t or you won't succeed. Just do this and to me happy. I won't love you if you go against my wishes. If you would just do X, Y, and Z, it becomes hard to become authentic. Asking for a woman who has been through abusive and manipulative situations to be authentic is asking a lot, but it can be obtained.
The first step is acknowledging what you have gone through. You want to find out who you are. You want to discover yourself. Acknowledging what you have experienced growing up in an abusive household is the first step. You can see the patterns that influenced your life. This will give you the power to make the necessary changes that are needed to become who you really want to be.
The second thing to do is to say to yourself that you know that it might be hard or triggering to heal, but you are willing to go on this journey without feeling, bad or apologizing for wanting to be your authentic self. It will upset the people who want to control you. It is time to put yourself first. You lived life on their terms and it did not make you happy. It's time to make yourself happy. Forgive the people who have held you back from being your authentic self.
The next step after that is setting boundaries, boundaries so that you can have your space honored to find out who you are and what you want. That means saying no to other's expectations. Including any parents or family members who had expectations of you that were not something that you wanted to do.
You must be willing to say no when it is not for your highest good . And to know when to say yes, when it is for your highest good.
There are many therapeutic approaches that can help including
counseling and psychotherapy
emotional freedom technique
There are many other modalities out there that can help you to heal.
If you are a woman who has not yet begun to live your best life because of other people's expectations, and you have just been fitting into the box of what others expect from you, it's not too late. You can have what you want now.