Friday, May 27, 2011

You're Stupid

The words would come out of my ex-girlfriend's mouth at the drop of a hat. "You're stupid," Niki would say. It was almost casual, the way she would insult me like that. She would smile and look at me anytime I did something slightly strange (like trip over nothing while walking down the hall or drop a heavy bag on my foot) and say, "That was stupid" or "You're so stupid." She would often say it after we got grades back and I did better than her. The next time I did something kind of dumb, she would roll out with, "God, you're stupid." I think that she needed to do it to feel superior.

The problem with that is, when you tell someone that they are stupid every day, they start to believe it. I let her tell me I was stupid to the point where I honestly believed that she was the more intelligent of the two of us. Even when we took a class together and I got and A and she got a C, I believed with all my heart that she was smarter than me. I would ask her almost any question I had, fully expecting her to know the answer or be able to find it for me. I was like her child at these moments, believing her to be a source of unending knowledge. Which, of course, she wasn't. When she broke up with me it was at a bad time: the week before Spring finals and moving out, and my laptop had to be sent in to HP because the motherboard had melted. Still, when she left my room after breaking up with me, the first thing I did was sigh in relief.

Now, two years after our break-up, I can look back in retrospect and realize that the only thing I ever did that was stupid was letting her make me feel that way. When I am in a relationship I am one of the most romantic boyfriends in the world. I took her out to eat at nice places, I took her to movies, I would make her dinners we would eat to candle light outside in warm weather. You would think someone would repay that in kindness.

The worst part is that she is not the first person to do that to me. As a child, my father always enjoyed having control and power over me. When I was smaller and he was less fat and unhealthy, my father was a man to be feared. I remember sometimes hating going to his place because he had multiple times hit me or thrown something at me. He settled down when he got on meds for high blood pressure, but even my mom has stories from when they were married like a time he put his fist through the wall near her head. And I remember a time when he yelled at me on my friend's porch and her dad told him that if he ever yelled at me like that again he would call the police. But the tides began to change when I hit puberty. I was growing into a strong young man from swimming and his knees gave out. I was taller and faster than him. I was doing well in school.

Instead of being proud of me, however, he began to put me down. He would make fun of me for not knowing something to the point of hurting my feelings. If he was wrong about something and I knew the correct answer, he would lie and say that he was just testing me. If my hair was slightly different than the cut he preferred, he told me I looked like an alien. If I was dressed nicely and looking good, he'd call me a fag or "gay bait" depending on his mood. And no, he didn't know about my sexual explorations and he still doesn't know anything about my sex life. My dad is very conservative and would never forgive me being any different.

My dad's teasing got to me really bad. Like with Niki, I let myself believe that he was right, that I was stupid. Or I was ugly. Or any of the other number of spiteful things he said to me. It got to the point where I developed clinical depression. By my senior year of high school I believed him so much that I was subconsciously doing things that made me get bad grades. I pulled away from my friends, family, loved ones, even Paul for a while, and was trapped in a shell of misery. I didn't know what to do, especially because my grades had gotten so bad that I was close to not graduating high school. Because I was such a good student, I only had to actually pass one class to graduate, but I was failing that class.

I even missed some big cues that I had depression. For example, one day in Health Class I had to present on Male Depression and I remember listening to their stories and thinking, "That's not depression. I feel that way every day." Obviously this should have been a clue. But it wasn't until later that I finally realized I had a problem and looked for some help. Typical of me, I found a therapist on my own and began going to see him regularly. No, I'm not going to tell you I had sex with him, but he did help me out greatly. And fortunately for me, my teachers were very understanding, allowing me to make up the work I had missed and I managed to graduate high school in very high standing. Not top 10, but close enough for me.

And as far as my dad goes, last summer I was getting to the point with him where I felt like if he didn't change his attitude about me then I would have to cut him out of my life entirely. So I sat down with him and said, "Are you disapointed in me?" and let the question hang before I continued: "Because if you are, then you might as well forget about me. I'm an amazing person and I'm doing great things. And if that isn't enough for you, then nothing ever will be." After talking to him for over an hour I heard two words I never thought I'd hear: "I'm sorry." He isn't totally better, of course, no one changes that fast. But he doesn't treat me as badly as he used to.

Still, the question remains: Why do I let people make me feel like crap? I know on a base level that I'm very intelligent and attractive, and men and women tell me those things regularly. But sometimes the depression creeps back in and all I see in the mirror is a hairy blob turning into his father, or I can't remember something and for a moment I hear Niki, my father, or any of the other people who I've been in bad relationships with over the years, say in my head, "You're stupid."

15 comments:

  1. I have (and I dislike admitting it) let myself get into the position of allowing friends and famiy similarly to mistreat me. It might begin as teasing. I can probably think of a hundred instances in which I laughed at the words, myself. But even if every insult seems weightless, when they accumulate, they begin to accumulate a heaviness that's tough to shake off—because when I finally protest and ask the person not to tease any more, they're always astonished and tend to refuse to recognize they've done anything wrong.

    Since I recently lost a good friend recently for this very type of behavior, the topic's sensitive, for me.

    But you've got to stand up for yourself, Ace. You've got to stop the little jibes and teases before they make you feel stupid, or before other people begin to believe the words themselves. If the other person won't stop—well, the world won't end if you take them out of your life. It'll hurt, but in the end you might be happier.

    I hope you feel better this weekend. You're not stupid.

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  2. Rob,

    Thank you for your comment, my friend. You've basically hit the nail on the head with this one. I've had to remove people from my life before to make the teasing and hurt stop. When I was in 6th grade I hung out with a group of friends who used me as their personal punching bag (mostly emotionally, but sometimes physically). Finally, one day, I didn't sit next to them anymore. I sat with a different group of people and ended up making a much better group of friends, many of which I'm still friends with to this day. The stupid part is, one of the kids who used to treat me badly came up to me later in high school and asked me to go on a date with him. I shut that down pretty quick.

    I also had to cut one of my aunts out of my life for doing something similar. And your right, it does hurt. I think about people I've lost in my life a lot.

    Thank you for your words of encouragement. That will be my mantra from now on: "You're not stupid. You're not stupid."

    -Ace

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  3. Wow my friend,I read your post and the same thing happens to me when i was young. My father did the same, i wasn't good at anything and i cannot do things right, and anything i do, it wasn't ok for him so he was always telling me that i was a " nothing". I was good at sport but not enough for him until a made a perfect game at bowling that he start a bit to see something in me but none the less it came back to what it was before. I play "sandbag" in my province for a long time and i was # 1 for 5 yeras and i was not good enough for him eather.
    He even told me that if he knew that i was gay that he would kill me and that stays in my mind for a very long time, even after is death 24 years ago. I start going out in gay club when i was 40 with my best friend. 'm a little better now but still find myself "stupid" as you said because to many people told me that i was.
    Even at school, it was the same thing so i was always alone and only talk to some people.
    So WE are not so stupid my friend and that we can start loving ourself the way we are, smart and beautifull.
    Have a great week-end my sexy friend.

    Yves

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  4. Ace: One of the most valuable life lessons that I've learned is to disengage myself from negative energy and negative people -- that can be difficult to do but it's vital to your health, emotional and physical (because depression can be a major drain on you.) If the negative types are family and so-called friends, too bad; cut them loose, too. People who are really your friends don't go out of their way to drag you down, and doing so in the guise of "just kidding" is doubly abusive. Life can be damned short. I refuse to waste time and energy on people who don't treat me with decency and respect. You are a smart, talented and attractive young man. Don't sell yourself short and don't allow others to do that, either. rjd

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  5. Yves,

    You have my sympathy. I'm always sorry to hear when someone goes through what I've gone through. I'm not sure if I'll ever come out to my father, but honestly I'm worried about his reaction. It could be VERY bad.

    -Ace

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  6. RJD,

    I've learned not to let anything my father says get to me, and I've started giving it back to him harder. I know it may be vindictive of me, but I get a certain pleasure letting him know how much better I am than he is. I even graduated college with a higher GPA than he did. But I still can't really cut him out yet. He is a help to me and a good listener to my problems. He is often rational and he gives me money when I desperately need it. And I do love him. There are just parts of him I hate with all my heart.

    So it is kinda complicated.

    -Ace

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  7. i never told my father about that and when he died in 1987, we were not that close cause i start to drift away from him because of everything he told me before and also, my character change and i was more up to him and face him more about things. But what he told me was always on the back of my mind for a long time. Getting threw it every day now so feeling better each day. Talking to you, Rob, Mark and Scott help a lot so thank you my friend.

    Yves

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  8. Yves,

    You're very welcome. And thank you too.

    -Ace

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  9. Ace, Thanks for your posting. It got me thinking that it can be even more subtle than people saying "You're stupid", but just the way they treat you. I find it in my previous married life more like an element of being told you don't do something very well (like cooking or washing dishes) and being pushed out (of the kitchen). This negativity is also related to being taken for granted which I certainly was by my wife, and also feel that way sometimes at work. But standing up for myself has never been my strong suit. Good luck with your efforts to get people to respect you.

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  10. The wonderful thing as I read this post - and your response to the previous responses to it - is to see you saying things like "the only thing I ever did that was stupid was letting her make me feel that way" and explaining how you've taken steps to cut out of your life the people who bring too much negative energy into it. You know the truth, revealed by your words here in your blog, in Rob's words, and in the responses you make to your readers. So, for what it's worth coming from a man you've never met: you are obviously SMART. Not just smart, but SMART. Emotionally smart, intellectually smart, socioemotional maturity smart, and human-heart smart (among many other things). Like the rest of your readers, I respect you and care for and about you. Never forget the infinite worth of your mind, body, heart, and soul. All people are important and special - but you, Ace, are quite a marvel.
    ---jonking

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  11. Paul,

    Thank you so much for your comment, and I'm sorry at my lateness in replying. I think you are right, that it is every negative thing that builds up until you can't keep it in anymore.

    -Ace

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  12. Jonking,

    Thank you so much for your heartfelt comment. I'm so glad to have readers like you who support me and remind me when I'm feeling down that I am a worthy person. When I get a comment like the one you just sent me, my heart swells.

    Thank you very much.

    -Ace

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  13. People can be cruel, some on purpose, perhaps it makes them feel better about them selves or perhaps they are just mean hearted. Others do it & don't seem to realize they are doing something wrong. It doesn't matter, we really can't let them make us feel bad. After years & years of teasing from school mates I finally came to the realization that I'm a good person. I have the capacity to love & I am worthy of love. I don't deserve to be treated that way & neither do you.

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  14. slaveboy johnny,

    I feel like this is something everyone deals with to a certain extent, but not everyone goes through this kind of emotional bullying. For those of us who do, coming out the other side a better person is hard, but worthwhile.

    -Ace

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  15. If you need your ex-girlfriend or ex-boyfriend to come crawling back to you on their knees (even if they're dating somebody else now) you have to watch this video
    right away...

    (VIDEO) Get your ex CRAWLING back to you...?

    ReplyDelete