Over the last year or so, I have been exploring, with the aid of Cognitive behaviour therapy, psychologist and a wonderful friend, my "core beliefs"; things that for years have coloured the way I perceive the world. Some of them came as no surprise- I discovered that the belief that I am a "quitter" was at the heart of a lot of my difficulties and successfully challenging that belief and its meaning has enabled me to see things more clearly and more importantly, have a closer relationship with the person who first uttered those words to me: "You're nothing but a quitter!"
Probably now she doesn't even remember them or their significance. I too have forgotten all those positive messages and hugs she must have given me over the years, with my distorted way of thinking, only the negatives were heard and attended to and remembered and seared deep into the soul.
Now I see that she too is like me, fully human, fully alive, struggling, doing the best she can.
And this morning another core belief suddenly floated to the surface. A chance remark on the radio about someone who had died who had been in the nightmare concentration camps. After he "made good choices" and lived fully, and the speaker went on to say that he lived believing in the importance of not being "chosen" but being a "chooser"; making the best choices he could at the time it came to make them.
One of those little bells rang inside me and the creaking of cogs turning in my head drove me to a conscious place.
Another core belief.
I am never chosen. This matters, it means I am not valued, loved, cherished. I am worthless, useless. Those sharp and stunningly quick thoughts that fly through the mind. The images of not being chosen for teams, parties, dances (oh those humiliating discos where no one asked me to dance,) being the odd one out in a pair. being afraid, even as an adult to apply for a job in case I was not chosen, to submit my name for a task in case I am overlooked, to push myself forward.
Those without such a negative cognitive set will by now be laughing out loud, not realising the power of the unconscious thought, hardwired into the brain. The protective evolutionary device that ensured choices in the jungle were made wisely and rapidly, before the time spent contemplating whether to fight or flee gave an opportunity to the sabre tooth tiger to get out the pepper and salt....
Because hardwired in my brain was the assumption that to be chosen was to be valued, to be loved and lovable. To be chosen is a marker of worth, of quality.
Which my non hardwired brain would feebly try and call out that it wasn't and secondly, it didn't matter.
Did it matter that I wasn't picked for the team? I hated sport anyway and would only get shouted at by the hard girls! Did it matter that no spotty adolescent asked me to dance? I hated their sweaty touch anyway. I missed for so long the point that being chosen wasn't important, choosing well was. And sadly, for so long, I let my hardwired brain do my choosing for me.
Then I lost my faith. I lost the ultimate element of being "chosen." If all else failed me, if all else rejected me, God had still chosen me, died for me.
Suddenly, no one had chosen me.
It has taken a long time to realise how important deep down this was to me and why I nearly fell apart at the seams. But thanks to many, some especially, I am now approaching 50 this week; fully human, fully alive and trying to be a chooser and worry less about being chosen.