Stockholm Syndrome

Stock·holm syn·drome
noun
  1. feelings of trust or affection felt in certain cases of kidnapping or hostage-taking by a victim toward a captor.

I was held captive once.  My captor told me that I wasn’t allowed to do things that made me happy.  I couldn’t hang out with friends because I had responsibilities.  I couldn’t indulge in hobbies because there were so many things to get done around the house.  My captor said I couldn’t push myself at work because my family needed me at home to do all the things they needed.  My captor didn’t want me to exist.  My captor convinced me that it was okay to have your identity as an individual erased, and to solely be the stuff you got done.  I trusted that opinion.  I was comfortable with that idea, even though my instincts told me that it wasn’t right.

I held myself hostage.

I allowed these thoughts to penetrate my being and I convinced myself that there was no other way. I told myself it was everyone else who felt this way, and I was reacting to their opinion.  I cared too much about what others were not even saying.  How did this happen?  Was it a crisis of confidence?  Did I do something to silence my inner voice that would have normally made me rebel?

Over the last year, I have slowly been able to peel this layer of doubt away.  I have let myself feel joy.  I have let myself feel tired (from doing something fulfilling, and not from having insomnia!).   I have reached for goals that I have never thought possible.  It’s a work in progress, but it’s in progress.  That gives me a lot of satisfaction with life.  The work isn’t done, though.  Even as I type this blog, there’s this little shadow looming that says I’m being selfish.  Shouldn’t I be bragging on my family?  On how I am performing as a wife or mother?  Why aren’t you talking about how funny your daughter is, or how she’s excelling at this activity or that sport?  Why aren’t you doing a post on a funny situation at home where your husband did some stereotypical husband stuff?  I have to literally stand up and shake it off.  (I’m using “literally” in the correct form here, guys.)

This post is a bit of a purge.  I am breaking up with my captor.  I’m telling her that she can’t make me trust this feeling like she used to.  The tide is turning against the cocoon she created, where I do nothing for myself.  I get to be me again.  I am a neat person.  NEAT.  Do you feel like you’re a hostage?  Are you holding yourself against your will?  Come step outside with me.  I’ll hold your hand.

angry cat

I took this selfie during captivity.

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