I remember this moment vividly- in my college counselor's office, she sat reading my questionnaire. We all had to fill them out. They involved questions like where we saw ourselves and how we saw ourselves.
Under how I saw myself, I wrote "slacker". I was watching her jaw drop and a quizzical look spread across her face. With one eyebrow lifted, she looked up
"You know you're top 5% of your class right?"
She didn't understand how I would see myself as a slacker, but I did. It was because I internalized all of the messages my parents communicated to me growing up. Never did they tell me something that indicated my value. I was always unlovable, never good enough. Top 5% meant I was worthy of nothing but rejection- I needed to be #1 to get some approval and even then, there would be something I hadn't done right.
This impacted me for all of my life. I had very low self-esteem and my external reality never matched my internal reality. This is exacerbated in a culture and environment where my peers grew up coddled and getting everything they ever wanted. This is a very confusing experience- you think you are beneath everyone growing up and when people are intimidated by you or your accomplishments, you don't understand- it creates so much dissonance and you find yourself justifying it in all ways like, maybe you made a bad impression? Maybe they knew something about you that you didn't? This is why people become neurotic. This is a fucking mental prison someone else locked me in.
If you never grew up feeling that you hated yourself and you deserved to die because you were nothing but burdensome to your caretakers just based on you breathing (not to mention that you deserved nothing- when you asked for something your life was literally threatened), you don't understand the pain and you never will. It is a sense of isolation and loneliness that leaves you more self sufficient than most- my ex roommate told me a few months ago when I finally told her about my upbringing, after years of being close friends (she had NO idea even after 2 solid years of living together- I've learned to conceal it well) that no wonder I was the only one of her friends who was truly comfortable being alone. She always wondered why I spent a lot of time alone in my room, and it made sense to her that being alone was the only solace I ever had. Either I was taking care of someone, or I was being used as a scapegoat or being shown off. My parents like to parade me around so other people will compliment them on their good upbringing and how pretty I am (and they always add that I look so much like my parents, of course) which flatters them endlessly. It's bullshit. I had anemia starting from the time I was in 3rd grade when my brothers were born because no one was feeding me. I remember being so dizzy at school for most of my life because I was starving- no one looked after me or prepared me food or made sure I got to eat breakfast before going to school unless breakfast means hysterical yelling- they fed me a lot of that. Any upbringing they did was something I had to learn to undo whilst parenting THEM.
As a result, I spent my life aggrandizing average people. I spent all of my energies soothing those that were threatened by me by being self-deprecating and elevating them so they felt better. When you feel your job is to be in service to others (because you're trained that if you even think of yourself at all you are labeled "selfish") and to convince people what you are led to believe- utterly worthless even when their appraisal of your value is above theirs, life is a weird fucking place. You protect and aid your enemies. If I were really in jail, I would've been the prisoner that endlessly nurtured and gave to my guards even if they strip searched me constantly just to humiliate me and even if they had so much more than me. Entitlement was never on my radar, but giving until I had nothing, in spite of myself, was. If you didn't understand where this came from, you might see me as weak- but it is the very opposite of that. It is a type of strength not many would understand.
But the day you realize the truth, there's absolutely no turning back. Truth carries a different vibration, one that is strong enough to shake off all of the excess clutter accumulated over a life time.
It is an act of grace when you look someone dead in the eyes and you tell them the truth. The truth has nothing to do with the ego- it has everything to do with the heart. But the ego objects. The ego is threatened. The rush of emotions you feel is your ego. The truth carries only peace and neutrality. It is not you resisting, it is your ego. The ego carries an interesting association because it's not always (but mostly in the general scheme) the classic hubris- the ego is a conditioned state of "self". For me, my ego was the one who believed I was worthless. When people complimented me, I used to think they were lying to me. I couldn't take it and felt anxious, I wanted to leave the situation. My ego positioned compliments, or people telling me my worth to be an attack. This is the distortion of the ego.
When I shed my ego, I found my true worth which no one can take away from me.
Learn to separate the ego and the truth. In the space between is where you find freedom.
It is one of my gifts to be able to swiftly identify and step into that space of yours.