March 13, 2019

My self-punishment is worse than anything you can dish out.

I am acutely aware that I am a naturally submissive person and I have grown accustomed to rules and consequences. I am generally a good girl…sassy and silly but never intentionally bad because I truly detest being punished. As long as I can remember, there is no greater punishment for me than knowing that I have disappointed someone I love or a dominant person in my life. 

As a child, those dominants were my parents. The look of disappointment was all they needed to have and I would crumble and the tears would run down my face. I vividly remember my parents being annoyed as they would say: “T…Why are you crying? Knock it off!” but I couldn’t. It is an involuntary stress response for me…they may as well have told me to stop digesting my breakfast. I would have had the same chance of completing that task especially because now they were more disappointed about the crying than they were about me not putting my cereal bowl into the dishwasher before I went out to play. 

Let’s face it…I had an incredible childhood with loving and supportive parents and had absolutely no reason to fear having them be angry or upset with me. As I grew older, I learned that the dominant could also be a teacher or employer. I would shrink into myself and fight to control the tears when I was corrected or disciplined even for the slightest error. This can still happen and I have to prep myself for difficult conversations in the workplace to give myself the greatest chance of holding it together. It is debilitating to be this way. I have spent my entire adult life attempting to be stronger…to be less effected by what others think. 

I found my strength. I filed for divorce. I bought a home for myself and my kids in a new town. I went back to school, worked my ass off and earned by master’s degree, graduating with a 4.0 as a single mom, working full time with four kids. I was so busy that I barely knew how stressed I really was. Two years later, I have registered myself for another master’s degree. This time, my MBA. Pfft…I was a math minor in my first undergrad degree. I’m not afraid of taking some challenging classes. I know that I can handle it. Here’s the thing though. I finally realized that I can’t handle it right now.  I am not a quitter but today I feel like one. 

Last week, I worked with the school to get enrolled and to start my journey. There was a glitch that prevented me from getting auto-registered on time. I had to send multiple emails and make several phone calls to straighten out my enrollment and financial aid because of that glitch. Then, 4 days into the 8-week session, I was finally enrolled, and I sat down to get the week one assignment completed just to realize that the booklist I had downloaded gave me the wrong name of the required book for the class. I was now unable to do the reading or the assignment. I went online and ordered the new book which arrived 2 days later than it was supposed to. Today, I was faced with feeling behind at work because I haven’t been bringing it home at night as I dealt with the school problems and needing to get 2 weeks of homework done in 4 days. I have not been myself since this started, I have had anxiety and felt unable to manage the stress of running my house, proving myself in a leadership position that has become more and more demanding and now school. Something has to give…for my sanity and the happiness of my family. The tough realization that now is not the right time to be starting a new degree became painfully clear. I sat down with my laptop and wrote the most difficult emails that I have had to write in a long time. I informed my instructor and the school that I would be dropping the class and the program altogether. I feel like a failure. I have been beating myself up all night because I quit something that was difficult. The subject matter wasn’t even that hard, but I couldn’t mentally handle putting that program into my life. So, go ahead…punish me with as you wish and make me cry. The bruises will fade away, but I will always remember this failure and the realization that disappointment in myself is even worse than the disappointment I’ve seen in the eyes of any dominant in my life. Who knew?

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