I’m working on the worksheet Celine (NHS CBT Lady) gave me at my last session, on vulnerability, core beliefs and triggers. As usual I’ve been getting behind with things and already its been a week and I haven’t written anything down.

The first section is ‘What made me vulnerable in the first place”. When I first looked at that I wasn’t too sure how that applied to me. If anything I’ve had a very sheltered, caring upbringing, so how can I be ‘vulnerable because of it? Am I even ‘vulnerable’? It’s true I haven’t been happy or feeling very stable though, otherwise I wouldn’t be having sessions with Celine in the first place! So Celine suggested I tackle the question just by thinking about what has shaped me and my ideas from an early age. That is where I will start.

I’m an only child. My parent made sacrifices for me, and put me before them (even as far as having only one child, when I know their dreams were for a cosy family with a happy mummy, daddy, son and daughter). Now I feel I need to try hard to make sure their effort wasn’t wasted.

My parents think I’m wonderful. I try to live up to my expectations/what I think their expectations are (or what I think they should be). They don’t actually seem to have expectations for me. They just want me to be happy. I don’t know how to do that, I just try extra hard in whatever I do to make up for that (except that tends to lead to me not being happy!)

High achiever at school (and reasonably high through university) = have to keep trying to live up to expectations. (These are basically my expectations of myself. If my family have expectations of me, they don’t say them. Sometimes I think I imagine their expectations, so those are basically mine too.)

Teased for having sticky outy ears when I was 10, 11, 12ish. I think that was the first time I realised something was ‘wrong’ with me. At first I tried to say that I didn’t have sticky outy ears (because I didn’t think I did, I just assumed everyone’s ears were the same), but then when it was pointed out to me that yes, my ears did stick out, then there wasn’t anything I could say. I couldn’t tell them they were wrong and mean, because they were just being truthful. And my parents couldn’t say anything either, as no words would make my ears stick back. Eventually a friend’s mother, and my doctor, suggested pinnaeplasty as an ‘easy’ solution. Four operations later and musty ears…it turns out my friend’s father was a neurosurgeon, so ‘easy’ was only ever a relative term I guess! Eventually my friends got bored of teasing me, probably by then they’d moved on to their next victim, and I got bored of trying to do anything about my ears. Now I’m older people probably notice my ears, but unlike 10 year olds, are too polite to say anything – as long as no one says anything, I can still pretend that everyone’s ears are the same, and mine are no different.

Silent treatment and not popular. When I went into the senior school, I developed a close set of friends. I have no idea what I did wrong, or didn’t do, or if it was just on the whim of the others, but through the second year of senior school I felt more and more as if I didn’t fit in. I think it spiralled out of PE class, where we’d alway have to pick teams. I was always one of the last to be picked. I knew I was reasonably good at sports, but of course it didn’t have anything to do with being good, it was who was popular, and I wasn’t. The popularity contest soon overflowed out of PE class, and I was given the silent treatment in everything. It made me feel confused because I hadn’t don’t something to suddenly become a bad person, so didn’t know what I could do to make myself a better friend (my bad – friendliness isn’t the basis of popularity anyway). My parents even had a meeting with our head-of-year tutor (which mortified me when I found out). One thing that changed was that the PE teacher made sure different people were team captains each week, and that they no longer did all the picking – after the first few people were picked, then she would divide the rest of us up evenly between teams. I’d be interested to know if that has continued or not. I don’t think it really made that much difference. After that year I made another group of friends (mostly those of us who were always the last to be picked for teams), and we’ve been really close ever since.

‘Painfully shy’. I know I’m quiet, and I always have been (even my mother was worried about me as I didn’t speak til I was 3. My doctor was able to reassure her that I was fine, as I could accurately imitate animals). I didn’t realise my quietness was a problem or noticeable til someone specifically described herself as ‘having been just like [me], painfully shy’ ( the story then went that she suddenly changed when she was 14 and became the loud and fun person she is today.) I guess that comment got to me as well, as it was said when I was 16, and had really been trying to make an effort to be more outgoing and self-confident over the previous couple of years. If I think about it now, it is around then that I would rate as having been one of my more confident points in my life!

Went away to boarding school for 6th form. I’m not sure how significant this is. I knew I wanted to go to university in England (US & Canada, my other main options, felt too big and didn’t offer the sorts of courses I wanted to study (geography), so I needed to get into the English system. To do that I needed to do my final years of school in England, so I don’t consider myself having been ‘sent away’. Though equally I didn’t really feel I had any other options, or at least none that I wanted to do, so I was stuck with putting up with the boarding  school for two years. Boarding school and me didn’t mix. I hated the fact that, by the age of 19 (moving to England led me to being a year behind), I was still being told what to do, where to go, what time to do things at, even prevented me from being late if I wanted to be,  and at the same time being told that the boarding school was providing us with so many opportunities and turning us into such independent people . Um sorry, I was way more independent at home at age 16, and had had three times the amounts of opportunities available to me compared to what the school offered. I didn’t resent the school itself, as I had made the decision to go there, I just resented how they tried to tell me that they were so good and gave me so many opportunities. I also wished I’d appreciated the way my school at home had taught: more or less, the teachers gave back what you put in, so since I’d made an effort to ask questions, go for revision classes etc, I did well with my work. At boarding school, however, there wasn’t the question of whether you made an effort or not: there wasn’t any choice, all there was to do was to work. I did (very) well, but couldn’t feel it was all to my credit.

Okey dokey. I’ve never written that much about me all in one go before. Think I will shuffle off now…–>

Here are links to my entries for the rest of the worksheet: Intro | Core Beliefs | Rules | Current Problem & Triggers | Coping & Maintenance